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A Circle in the Woods [Kindle Edition]

Winston Emerson
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $9.95
Kindle Price: $0.99
You Save: $8.96 (90%)

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Book Description

"All my life you've been pacing around me in circles. What do you want from me? Why don't you just take it and leave me alone?"

In a place where people have been disappearing for years, a little girl gets lost in the woods. Meet the man who saves her life.

On a late summer morning in 1958, Phil Stapleton discovers and rescues five-year-old Brittany Duncan after she spends two days lost deep in the Kentucky woods. Two months later, when a tree branch crashes through the rickety trailer where Brittany lives, Phil takes the girl and her mother under his roof. What follows is a decade of mystery, terror, violence, and tragedy, with no escape in sight.

A Circle in the Woods is a novel that lulls and charms its reader while quietly drawing a knife.

"A significant literary achievement. . . . At times the writing is genuinely brilliant." -- an editor at HarperCollinsUK

"The new generation of literary fiction." -- Casey Watson, author of The Boy No One Loved: A Heartbreaking True Story of Abuse, Abandonment and Betrayal

Editorial Reviews


"A significant literary achievement. . . . At times the writing is genuinely brilliant." -- HarperCollinsUK,

"The new generation of literary fiction." -- Casey Watson, author of The Boy No One Loved: A Heartbreaking True Story of Abuse, Abandonment and Betrayal

"Emerson takes what I delight in calling his sweet time in building the tale. He never becomes exclamatory or strident--he knows just how to whisper us along. Even the most sensible adult reader will be genuinely scared." -- Jon P. Bloch,The Kindle Book Review

About the Author

Winston Emerson is a novelist, amateur knife thrower, and content writer living with his wife in Louisville, Kentucky.

Winston welcomes readers, agents, and publishers to contact him at

To read Winston's new serial novel for free, visit

Product Details

  • File Size: 422 KB
  • Print Length: 217 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1469977613
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0075CG636
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #584,490 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Some books are difficult to wrap thoughts around. This novel is at times a gory, gut-wrenching story that is difficult to continue reading. The protagonist is a seemingly normal man that we soon realize has a warped mind that vacilates between intelligent, deep thought and eloquent speech and his deeper, dangerous side as a serial killer. An unusual form of dialogue is effective, but at times required my re-reading passages to be clear about who was speaking. The story's tension rises and falls nicely throughout. Not since I read Sophie's World (Gaarder) years ago, have I read anything containing so many philosophical thoughts, many of which each of us has possibly pondered at times ourselves. As with some novels, I found the ending unsatisfactory for my taste, but no doubt others will read it and be satisfied. The tale's epilogue causes the reader to rethink a lot of the story and presents even more questions about the man and his issues. Other characters in the story are secondary to him and one is ultimately influenced by his thoughts. It seems to be a book for thinkers who do not mind blood and guts thrown in.
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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe the strangest book I have ever read. February 9, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Dark, violent, heartbreaking, ethereal, and very funny at times, in a most twisted way. In A Circle in the Woods we follow Phil Stapleton, a mysterious (young?) man who saves a little girl from the deep woods and soon has married her tramp of a mother. I kept thinking, "He's going to do something to that little girl." Tension mounts, strange things keep happening, and all the while my fear for this child grows. Part Two jumps ahead five years, Part Three another five, so that by the time we reach the incredibly dramatic and tragic climax, Brittany is fifteen years old, and so far unharmed by Phil, strangely enough. What a unique, complex, edge-of-your-seat moment. I would love to see the climax of this book on screen. The entire book, really, though parts of it would be difficult to watch. And the ending! I respectfully disagree with the other reviewers regarding the ending. If the big reveal at the end hits you the way it's meant to - if you realize the identity . . . no, I can't give it away - then you will be completely floored. It is such a major twist, and done in a way that isn't cheap. It makes you realize just how tightly woven and deep this story really is. I have no doubt this book won't be here much longer. A publishing house will likely pick it up very soon, and you won't be getting a copy for five bucks anymore. Terrific, haunting read. You don't come across a book like this every day - anywhere. I don't know if the author is brilliant or insane or both. I do know I'm glad I don't live next door to him.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense and Compelling March 22, 2012
"A Circle in the Woods," by Winston Emerson, is set in a world in which everything is potentially animate. If you've ever spent time in the woods, you already know the feeling: creeks and trees and underbrush seem . . . well, teeming with life. And in your imagination it seems like anything might start whispering to you, or moving about in a phantom manner. In a way, this novel is the story of Red Riding Hood, in that a little girl lost in the woods is befriended by a seemingly good man--or is he? But in this version, the girl's distracting hood has been removed, so to speak, and the true complex psychological horror of a wolf in sheep's clothing is revealed in all it gory splendor.

The writing style is somewhat experimental and may take some getting used to. But you will get used to it, and come to realize that it adds to the mounting tension of the story. In the world of this novel, conversation itself is appropriately flattened out and slightly unreal. For as the situation unfolds, what people say becomes less and less important when confronted with horror in all of its inexorability.

Emerson takes what I delight in calling his sweet time in building the tale. He never becomes exclamatory or strident--he knows just how to whisper us along. Even the most sensible adult reader will be genuinely scared, and though there are countless horror stories out there, not many can make this claim. I suggest reading it alone at night, with maybe some faint, unfamiliar noises in the background . . .

Jon P. Bloch
(The Kindle Book Review)
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Story was fine, style had me stumbling April 1, 2012
By JustJen
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoy this genre very much, and decided to give my newly-gifted Kindle a spin with this free-to-me story.

The story is dark and depressing, very occasionally reaching out with an olive branch of very dark humor; essentially what I look for in this genre.

The character of Phil eventually - well, okay, almost immediately - did grate on me with the know-it-all look-at-these-plebes-below-me attitude and had me seeking solace with the beset-upon Marley even though she was obviously written as an object of derision. It was still a bit amusing to follow Phil and his interactions with "regular" people in this tiny sticksville town. I believe the story really hit its stride in the last 10%, where we follow someone other than Phil for a while and get to experience some more character growth.

Unfortunately, I am one of the folks that have a difficult time parsing stories when they are not "correctly" punctuated, and my brain came to a full stop many times as I backtracked and tried to figure out who was speaking - or if anyone -was- speaking - or merely thinking dialogue. There were several run-on action passages which were a bit overwhelming, and a point in the book where there were suddenly indentations, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if that had significance or if the indentations were just an oversight in publishing. With no real use of punctuation other than commas and periods, I found myself reading the story with a flat, dead affect in my head - which could be fitting to this particular story! Though I found it made it more difficult for me to become attached to any of the characters.

I do appreciate attempting a different kind of style, but unfortunately it did not work for me.

If you can parse stories well no matter the punctuation style, I would give this one a try if you enjoy your reading black, with no cream or sugar.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Do you like 'experimental' writing?
Do you like 'experimental' writing, including lack of punctuation? Then it is possible that you might call this one 'Literary fiction' and pronounce it something to admire. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Zim Zoo Vig
3.0 out of 5 stars Puzzling
Strange book .. but compelling enough that you read the entire story ... and then wonder why you wasted your time. A psychological thriller that left me puzzled.
Published 1 month ago by Julie M. Siemek
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful!
This book kept me on the edge of my seat. Very well written.
Published 2 months ago by Paige Lee
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Disappointed in book. Too far out for me. Not realistic at all.
Published 4 months ago by sandy gadd
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely awful!
The punctuation in this book is atrocious! There aren't any quotation marks in the entire book. There were places in the book that I had to reread just to figure out who was... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Mlw
3.0 out of 5 stars difficult to follow
I like weird psychological thriller's but this book just didn't do it for me. Some of the descriptions of the setting of the story were good-- but the main character made no sense... Read more
Published 21 months ago by ilikebooks
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid
This has to be the WORST book ever written. If the punctuation was experimental, what in the world was the purpose? No redeeming factors at all in my opinion. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Sherry Lambert
2.0 out of 5 stars Huh
Not sure how to review this one. First, it took me about 20% of the book to get used to the lack of grammar/sentence structure. Read more
Published on April 24, 2013 by B. Agler
5.0 out of 5 stars A Circle in the Woods=different!
I have never read anything like this. A very unusual writing style. It made me feel like I was watching it instead of reading it, if that makes sense. Read more
Published on April 7, 2013 by ferri
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Unforgettable
One of the most compelling books I have read in a very long time. Mr. Emerson crafts a dark tale that will haunt you long after you finish the story. To say Mr. Read more
Published on April 6, 2013 by Sunny S
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More About the Author

Winston Emerson will return with a new novel in 2015.

Until then, rest easy.

Contact him at


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