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The Dead Path Hardcover – October 5, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385533438
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385533430
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,513,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Australian author Irwin's impressive debut, a supernatural thriller, evokes a world full of death and spirits to which we are, mercifully, oblivious. Since the night of his wife's death, Nicholas Close has been cursed with second sight to see ghosts re-enacting the final moments before their own often violent deaths. These disconcerting visions drive Nicholas back to his family home in Tallong, Australia, where, instead of finding comfort, he sees the ghost of a childhood playmate replay the murder that almost took Nicholas's life instead. Clues from other local murders and data gleaned from his father's books of occult lore apprise Nicholas of ancient unhallowed traditions still being practiced in the forest near his home--and of malignant powers attempting to reassert a balance that was upset when Nicholas escaped death. Irwin writes in a lyrical style that expresses both the poignancy of Nicholas's distressing supernatural experiences and the mood of horror those experiences conjure.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Following a wicked accident and the tragic death of his wife, Nicholas Close has been cursed with the gift of second sight, condemned to watch the dying moments of ghosts over and over again. He flees London for the comforts of his childhood home in an Australian suburb but is surprised to see that the dense, dark woods down the street have still not been developed. That’s where his childhood best friend, Tristram, was murdered, and now another child from the neighborhood has gone missing. Nicholas is the only one who knows that she, too, has perished in the forest, for he is now being haunted by the vision of the moment she was taken, whisked into the woods by unknown forces. Compelled to find out what happened to both his childhood friend and the missing girl, he learns that there is an ancient spirit residing in the woods, one who seems especially interested in Nicholas and is poised for battle. Irwin employs many of the images familiar from dark fairy tales—skittering spiders, a haunted forest, an evil witch—and infuses them with fresh terror. One of the scariest novels of this or any other year, The Dead Path is sure to draw comparisons to the work of Stephen King. --Joanne Wilkinson

Customer Reviews

The characters are well developed and interesting.
knitting ninja
I guess what I want to say is that there are great passages in this book, a lot of scares, and I really enjoyed that.
Mallory Anne-Marie Forbes Haws
It's actually quite a good story, paced a little slow but not too slow, and written in great detail.
Doc Stew

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on September 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I don't read too many traditional ghost stories anymore, but something about Stephen Irwin's "The Dead Path" called out to me--whether it was something from the nefarious underworld or whether I was just intrigued by the mutilated bird on the cover, I'll leave up to my analyst. But Irwin delivers the supernatural goods in this tale of haunted woods and a string of mysterious child murders that has plagued a small town for more years than seem rational. Irwin establishes a creepy and unsettling tone in the early pages, but as more secrets become revealed--the novel becomes an all out assault on the senses with a impressively high body count. A definite recommendation for fans of the genre, this one ticks all the appropriate boxes but still has some surprises left to unfold.

One of the novel's strengths is its principle character, Nicholas Close. Close, in particular, is what made this a unique and gratifying experience for me. Plagued by a tragedy for which he feels responsible, Close returns to his childhood home to recuperate. Instead of rest and relaxation, however, he is presented with a whole new set of horrors. He sees dead people! The gruesome tableau played out for his nightly enjoyment shows him unsettled souls in a death loop--he can see someone at the moment of their death and their violent demise plays out over and over for his viewing pleasure. Disturbing, to be sure, but particularly disconcerting if your home is the sight of numerous child murders. Haunted by grief and guilt, Close is drawn into the mystery that surrounds this town and its woods which have remained undeveloped against all odds.

Irwin stages some intense scenes throughout--I'd be particularly wary if you have a thing about spiders as they are employed to great affect in "The Dead Path.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on October 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Widower Nicholas Close fears he is losing his mind since his wife Cate died. He wonders if it is grief playing tricks with his sanity as he sees ghosts play out their final moments of life; most of the replays are violent deaths.

Needing relief from the horrific visions, Nicholas returns from London where he and his late wife lived for years to his family home in Tallong, Australia. However, instead of comfort from being at a place of supposed fond childhood memories even his mom wished he stayed in London. His first night in town has the cops show him a picture of a missing boy; but the photo frightens Nicholas as the child is his childhood friend Tristam whose brutal murder happened twenty-five yeas ago. When he sees Tristam's ghost, he begins to investigate this and other local homicides he now bears witness to. Nicholas also peruses his father's occult book collection in which he concludes that ancient desecrated rituals are being practiced by those who believe he should have died years ago when his friend did.

The Dead Path is a great horror thriller starring Nicholas who sees ghosts, but this is not the Ghost Whisperers or the Ricky Gervais' movie Ghost Town pleading for help to enter the light as he learns about human demons and other evils wanting him dead. Fast-paced yet character driven as Nicholas fears he has no way off The Dead Path except perhaps in his death.

Harriet Klausner
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Mccarthy VINE VOICE on January 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I don't read a lot of horror -- other than Zombie Lit, which is a whole 'nother critter -- so I may see "Dead Path" differently from the true aficionados. This is the story of Nicholas Close, who wishes he wasn't able to see the dead reenact their final moments over and over and over. Newly widowed, he moves back to Australia to live with his mother, whose house is not terribly far away from some very scary woods. Just as he arrives, a young boy is brutally murdered in those woods, eerily similar to the murder of Close's best childhood friend years before.

Things start a bit slow but stick with it, the pace picks up without ever getting hectic. It doesn't exactly drag but some judicious editing would have been nice. The main characters are wonderfully drawn and a thoroughly eclectic bunch, though not necessarily likeable, which works perfectly here. Tallong, the primary locale, fits with the small town Oz that I've experienced along the east coast, but oddly is never really brought to life. In fact, outside of the language, there are very few reminders that you are even in Australia.

Overall, the story was more creepy than frightening, though I'll give it points for prompting one really nasty nightmare! Close's "gift" gets a lot of play, but becomes more annoying than a useful device. Without giving anything away, I'll simply rate the ending as disappointing. Still, this is a darn good first novel, though I'd bet the author has much better to come.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J.Prather TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Dead Path is a richly atmospheric novel of horror and suspense. The author exhibits quite a talent for the descriptive; in this novel are cities that can "shrug their shoulders", boxes that can "chuckle" and of course the woods that seem to breathe, and lunge, and menace, and cut, and whisper... well you get the picture. The rich language is worth the price of the book. The author has done a surprising thing here. He has created a novel that relies heavily on atmosphere, and still sustains a pretty brisk pace. Things happen quickly enough, and the plot is interesting enough that I never felt bogged down in all the description. It merely added to the suspense that ran throughout the book pretty consistently from page one to the very end. This book sometimes had the feel of an old folklore tale, while at other times it felt like a contemporary Stephen King novel. It's an intriguing mix.

You can't have a good horror novel that includes witches and hexes and pagan gods without also having some great characters. Nicholas and Suzette are well developed characters that I believed from the beginning. Nicholas' misery is profound but never sinks into whining self pity. His sadness and it's eventual
change into anger is very believable. His sister Suzette is more street wise (and magic wise) and plays well off of Nicholas' sometimes surprising innocence and naivete.

I found this book to be incredibly creepy. Did it make my heart beat faster? No, it's not that kind of scary. It did make me start seeing spidery shadows in all the corners, and I am quite certain there might be a few spidery nightmares in my future. See, spiders scare me anyway and there are a lot of spiders in this book.
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More About the Author

Stephen is an Australian author and filmmaker. His short films and short stories have won numerous competitions and awards around the world. His debut novel, The Dead Path, was published in many countries and was named top Horror title in the 2011 RUSA Reading List. His second novel, The Broken Ones, was released in Australia in mid-2011 to excellent reviews, including being named the Sydney Morning Herald's Pick of the Week.
Evidence from Stephen's childhood reveals he wanted to be an Egyptologist, a P-51 pilot, and Gigantor; instead he has worked as a handyman, drinks waiter, call centre operator, and illustrator. Now he makes stuff up for a living. He lives in Brisbane, Australia, with his wife, two young children, and very needy but well-loved black cat.

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