The Isle by John C. Foster

The IsleThe Isle by John C. Foster

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

US Marshal Virgil Bone finds himself amongst the Isle’s isolated community – a community that shares a horrific past that still taints their daily life. Mistrusted and clearly unwelcome from the onset, Bone struggles to do his job, which was supposed to be the simple collection of a fugitive’s dead body. Now he’s stranded, surrounded by secrets and a rising death toll. If only he wasn’t met with aggression, then maybe he could help save lives.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

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I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Grey Matter Press for giving me the opportunity.

I was thoroughly impressed upon beginning this one, because from early on the atmosphere – hopelessly miserable – truly appealed to me. Seriously, the level of detail was through the roof, and made me shiver as if I too was battling the horrendous weather. It’s a rarity that I feel so completely immersed, therefore I have to give credit where it’s due. I think it’s because of that solid writing that I empathised with the protagonist, U.S. Marshall Bone, even though he wasn’t the most likeable character ever. A lot of attention fell upon his mental state and the turmoil that plagued him, making him terribly realistic in his flaws. As for the others, I quite liked Burden and Hazel, even Samuel Weeks to an extent. None were perfect, or clear-cut good people.

I think the strength truly lay in the first fifty percent, however after that point certain things became clear, and I couldn’t help but question some plot decisions that I found to be off-putting. One of those was the use of particular technology when convenience called, yet the setting itself was reminiscent of New England in the seventeenth century, complete with Puritan names, emphasis on religion, and a lack of anything modern. But when someone needed to watch a VHS tape? There was suddenly a TV and the means to do so. I would have preferred the all or none approach, as the middle ground just didn’t sit well with me.

It also began to drag in the last half, and that was where I found it difficult to stay invested. This isn’t to say the story didn’t try its best to recapture my interest; the glimpses into the history of the Isle were wonderfully gruesome, and a part of me wanted the entire story to be based in that specific time period. It was a disappointment that those little segments didn’t save the overall burn-out. Even the ending wasn’t particularly memorable, and I don’t think it was fully coherent on the events that transpired. I still have many questions, and even though I don’t mind them going unanswered and relying on my own interpretation, it would have been nice to get a little more closure.

In conclusion: The Isle hooked me from the beginning, but my attention waned the further I progressed. Whilst the gloomy atmosphere was top-notch, the story slowed to a crawl, to the point I just wanted it to be over. It’s a shame, because it started with the potential to be a favourite read.

Notable Quote:

Like an animal, she recognized the howling cries of her own kind and wandered straight into the village, her bare and bloody feet silent on the cobblestones. Her head was light with a lack of nourishment and she muttered and sang as little girls were wont to do, a stream of nonsense sounds that kept her company.

© Red Lace 2019

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