The Schoharie #BookReview

Title: The Schoharie | Author: Diane M. Johnson | Publisher: BookBaby | Pub. Date: 08/30/2017 | Pages: 222 | ASIN: B0758BHKR5 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: Domestic Abuse, rape | Rating: 2 out of 5 | Source: Received from the author for review consideration

The Schoharie

Thirty years ago a major Thruway bridge was built across a small creek near the town of Fort Hunter, New York. It had its problems with construction delays and local protests, but it was built and it was strong. 

Thirty years later the bridge collapses when spring floods transform the meager creek into a raging torrent. The collapse takes several lives and almost includes the life of Aaron Bonner, volunteer firefighter, who swears he saw a vengeful Indian spirit take the bridge down. He just needs to convince Sheriff Ben Harrigan that the same Indian spirit seeks more vengeance. But the sheriff knows that Aaron is just like his father, who tried to sabotage the bridge when it was first built, while in the throes of a mental breakdown. Has Aaron gone crazy? Or does the sheriff have something to hide? 

A near death experience triggers Aaron’s sensitivity to supernatural forces at work in the town of Fort Hunter. But his father’s history of mental instability makes Aaron doubt his own sanity. He confides in Sheriff Harrigan, the father of his girlfriend, in a moment of desperation– but memories are long in small towns like Fort Hunter, and the sheriff remembers well Joe Bonner’s attempt to sabotage the original construction of the bridge. He was there. And it was his fault. 

Harrigan knows the town isn’t being attacked by an Indian spirit seeking revenge. He knows Aaron is suffering from the same mental illness as his father. But when other things begin to happen– things that can’t be explained by a man experiencing a nervous breakdown– the sheriff must come to terms with his own role in Joe Bonner’s mental collapse in order to save himself, his daughter’s boyfriend and the rest of the town.

The Schoharie Review

The prologue starts out with a dedication to the actual Schoharie Bridge that collapsed and assures us that the story itself is fictional.

First, the good. The book itself flows pretty well (action-wise, narrative speaking is another story) and only lags here and there. The people in The Schoharie, for the most part are fairly well done. I say fairly because at times I had to ask myself how old Sara is. Her attitudes and reactions make her sound like a petulant seventeen year old half the time. For as much as the narration and Sara try to make the sheriff sound like an intolerant hard-headed jerk it never really struck me that way. It probably would have helped if it had been more consistent with what he disapproved of, exactly. On one page he disapproves of the main character, Aaron Bonner, implying it’s because he’s Native American. But in the next paragraph we find out that the sheriff was “friends since kindergarten” with Aaron’s father. Again, in another chapter he’s upset because his daughter is divorcing her husband. Two pages later it says he didn’t want her to marry that guy in the first place. And then he’s ‘judgmental’ about her seeing another guy before divorcing her husband. It was very uneven. The side characters are there to either give background, fill out the cast or be the villain. That’s about it. And it’s pretty easy to figure out who/what is behind the happenings.

Most of The Schoharie centers on the supernatural forces at work, waffling on whether it’s true or not and a lot of people looking accusingly at Aaron because of his father’s history and because he’s Native American. The rest is filler on what really happened in the past and a few action pieces. The writing is stilted and overly dramatic at times. Too many thesaurus words and apparently witnessing someone get shot can make things defy the law of physics. Example: “The fresh coffee in her hand slipped away in slow motion before it hit the floor…” It may be a nitpicky but that’s just one example of where the wavering narration just sounds weird. At times we’re in one head or another and then it will flip to an omniscient third-person and back again, often in the same paragraph. Action pieces are broken up by meanderings of “If so and so knew this…” and then eventually find it’s way back to the original point.

There were two other points in The Schoharie that really stuck out to me and not in a good way. Even though the book avoided the literal ‘evil Indian’ it was still “Indian sorcery” behind it all. Domestic abuse and rape also seemed to be treated in a way that somewhat made it sound acceptable. “he’s sick” “he’s possessed”, it’s the war. All of these are brought forward and they are used as actual excuses. To say I lost my patience with it would be an understatement.

I gave The Schoharie a two because the author does show some promise and with a better editor to help trim out the extraneous sentences and thesaurus words this might be a pretty decent book. On the plus side The Schoharie is formatted well and there are no typos.

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