The Forgotten Island by David Sodergren
Reviewed by Morgan K. Tanner
I’d been aware of this book for a while before taking the plunge myself. It was getting lots of pretty decent reviews so it was always one I’d been meaning to get round to. Reviewers were praising its B-movie aesthetic and revelling in its horrific qualities.
So eventually I took my very own trip to The Forgotten Island, expecting it to be good, but something in the back of mind wondered whether it would live up to the hype. I thought I may be scratching my head and actually finding it to be “meh, it was OK, I suppose” (oh, to be an individual).
Well, the deserved hype certainly speaks volumes. This was outstanding! To liken it to a B-movie I think does it a disservice. When I think of B-movies I think of bad acting, ridiculous dialogue and plot-holes, along with the whole ‘it’s so bad it’s good’ kind of vibe.
This story, although following a typical plot of a low budget horror film, was certainly ‘so good it’s amazing!’
The prologue tells of an island somewhere in the waters of Thailand, where a construction crew are building a state-of-the-art hotel complex. A large hole opens up in the ground and one of the men falls inside. It’s up to the gaffer to go down there and look for him. What he sees down there changes him forever.
And then we’re suddenly thrown into present day Thailand. Ana is backpacking with her sister, Rachel, and Rachel’s dick of a boyfriend, Paul. Ana’s had problems in the past; her mom died, she felt alone and estranged from her sister, she even attempted to kill herself. Add to the that the strange visions she used to have and you can see why she needs a holiday.
The three of them ‘befriend’ another three-piece and party the night away on a beach. The two sisters and their new acquaintances awake the next morning on a boat, of all things, sailing who knows where. As things become clearer they remember swimming out to the boat and deciding to set sail. Come on, they were drunk, and possibly drugged.
You can guess where the boat leads them, right? By the time the party-goers, along with a trio of Australians, reach the island you really have a strong understanding of their characters. This was so well done as the backstories were introduced very subtly, in such a way it wasn’t in-your-face obvious. It was really fun getting to know them all, with splatterings of humour thrown in. This made the upcoming terrors even more unnerving. I knew they were going to be bad, but I had no idea exactly how bad.
A strange cultish tribe inhabit the island, as do terrifying monsters, as well as Lovecraftian beasts beyond the understanding of puny humans. There’s gore aplenty, scenes that will make you itch all over, and descriptions of terror and sickness that will delight any horror lover. Some scenes are full-on disgusting, in the very best possible way.
If you haven’t read this book, it may seem that trying to manage these different elements of horror would prove difficult, resulting in a rather confusing narrative. But that is certainly not the case. The whole story is perfectly presented and shockingly realistic.
I can’t describe the horrors witnessed by the travellers because, although it’s hinted at beforehand, the reveal is just so – I’m kind of shivering just thinking about them now. The last third of the book just ramps it up even more on every page. You don’t often find cliffhangers at the end of chapters in horror novels, but this one constantly dared you to keep reading.
I read this over a few days, but if I’d had the time I’d have devoured it even quicker. I was even thinking about it at work, driving, and in bed; just wondering what was around the corner for these luckless characters.
It really is that good!
There’s something for every horror fan in this book. The characters are interesting, making you really care about their plight (well, most of them anyway). The deaths (it’s not a spoiler saying people die, come on) are vivid and meticulously described.
When the story seemed to have come to its conclusion, I noticed there was still 10% or so left on my Kindle. It’s like knowing there’s still twenty minutes left in a film when the thing appears to be wrapping everything up; it all seems too good to be true.
And then the ending hits you. Wow!
I’d love to say more, but all I will say is you need to be reading this twisted tale. I’m sure many horror fans are familiar with The Forgotten Island. If you are but haven’t read it yet, stop reading this review and pick yourself up a copy.
(OK the review’s finished now, but you still shouldn’t be reading this sentence)
About Morgan K. Tanner
Morgan K Tanner is a writer, drummer, and golfist currently residing in the English countryside. The idyllic surroundings make it an ideal place to write, drum, and hide the bodies. The busy sound of the typewriter is perfect to drown out the hum of the antiquated torture equipment.
When he’s not writing or inflicting pain and suffering on his numerous victims, he indulges himself in all things horror and metal.
His debut novella, An Army of Skin is available now.