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The Dead Path Hardcover – October 5, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra
Featured Author: Anna Snoekstra
In this chilling psychological thriller, one woman's dark past becomes another's deadly future. Learn more
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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.
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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

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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
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,888,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
You will enjoy The Dead Path if you don't take it too seriously and just go with the flow. After the sudden death of his wife, a man begins to see visions of the dead. Although we've seen this "I see dead people" plotline before The Dead Path takes a new direction and transplants our "supernatural seer" into his hometown where he'd experienced trauma as a child. It is in his hometown, with his dysfunctional relationships and a new series of murders occurring that we come to understand that something more sinister is at work. There are some pretty silly elements to this finding, but nonetheless (go with the flow remember?) if you roll with the story there is some creepy moments and a memorable villain to keep the story moving.
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