In upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman’s Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. Steep-banked, fast-moving, it offers the promise of fine fishing, and of something more, a possibility too fantastic to be true. When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other’s company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, so they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It’s a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. It will bring Abe and Dan face to face with all that they have lost, and with the price they must pay to regain it.
I have to say, I am so happy I ended up getting this book over another one that was before it on my ‘to read’ book list. Without question, The Fisherman is probably the best horror novel I have read in a long, long time. If you’ve ever read “House of Leaves” you will be able to tell just how close the two books are. Like House of Leaves, The Fisherman is actually a story within a story, of two widowed fishermen, Dan and Abe, who have both lost their wives way too early in life and has formed a friendship around a mutual interest in fishing.
It’s an incredibly strange story that is told to Dan and Abe by a local named Howard who records detailed historical events on the malevolent history of their area. One that tells what people are capable of when their reality is questioned, and how their grief can slowly ooze its way into one’s conscience and transforming them. It tells how grief can be so incredibly powerful that we have no choice but to find a way to cope.
The Fisherman starts with one of the most ominous and foreboding beginnings one is likely to encounter. The story to be revealed is described “as coal-black” and the narrator questions, “Can a story haunt you? Possess you?” Quickly, Langan guides his readers to an incredibly realistic tale describing a man, Abe, and his attempts to deal with the sudden and premature death of his wife, Marie, to cancer. Abe’s story is one to which any reader will be able to relate to that has suffered the loss of a loved one. Abe eventually finds his only escape by fishing in the streams of the Catskill Mountains in New York.
Dan Drescher, who is a work colleague of Abe has also suffered a great loss with the death of his wife and two sons involved a car accident. Both men begin to share a friendship and share many moments of relief fishing side by side. One day, Dan suggests they try to locate an isolated stream the locals call Dutchman’s Creek. It’s said that the creek was created by the relocation of eleven and a half towns that eventually formed the Ashokan Reservoir in 1916. Things get really messed up after that, and both their lives will never again be the same.
The Fisherman combines weird fiction and literary horror that’s never cheap in its scares, nor does it offer over-the-top gore, although it is on occasion extremely violent. The Fisherman is the very definition of a horror novel done right, and I can almost assure that most readers are likely to hang on to many of the book’s images within their minds long after finishing the novel and will most likely be tempted to read it all over again. Like I have.
In closing, The Fisherman is a most mindboggling novel that deserves way more recognition than it is currently receiving. In my opinion, The Fisherman is one of the greatest horror novels to come out in the past decade, and I have no doubt that it will continue to hold its precedence and importance to me for many years to come. At one point, Abe contemplates the question, “Can a story haunt you? Possess you?” I can honestly say…yes. Yes, it can.
Title: The Fisherman
Author: John Paul Langan
Published Date: June 30, 2016
Genre: Fiction, Horror, Suspense
Publisher: Word Horde
Pages: 282 pages
Reviewed by: Carl Collins
Our Rating: 4.2 /5
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