Four by P.J. Blakey-Novis is a novella broken out by the four stories that a group of friends tell around the campfire. Each tale has an element of truth, but do any of these stories have more truth than they think?
Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book from the author per request of an honest review. This did not affect my rating in any way.
CW: Brief mentions of sexual assault and rape.
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on Four by P.J. Blakey-Novis
When a group of friends, that are admittedly, not that close, decide to go on an overnight trip, things start off a bit rocky. But once in nature, they all start loosening up a bit.
When the camp is made and the sun sets, the friends all take turns telling campfire stories. In each tale, the friends start out on their camping trip before things take a turn. As each friend tells their story, we get a slasher, an alien encounter, a ghost story, and a gory tale of revenge. But then things become a little too real…
As I absolutely loved the format here, I have some notes on each section that I have added below –
Part One: The Four
After reading just the first paragraph, I was already so glad that I didn’t have any camping plans coming up any time soon! I mean, how ominous is this section:
“Yes, camping, like any other getaway, provides an escape from daily life. But it also provides an escape from the safety of daily life. The protection of one’s house or flat is now gone. You are exposed, not just to the elements, but also to whatever creatures may be lurking nearby. Not to mention the most dangerous monsters of all – other people.“
This was a great set up! I was immediately nervous to see what would happen next in each of their stories.
If you would rather be in the dark before learning what the next sections would bring, stop here and skip to the next header!
Part Two: Steven’s Story –
Steven tells a slasher-like tale where the friends end up running for their lives.
This one spooked me! It was terrifying and gory! This was a great first tale to set off the theme of the night for the friend group.
Part Three: Daniel’s Story –
Daniel is hesitant and asks for a theme to get him going. When an alien story is recommended, he takes a minute to think, then he begins a wild tale of something falling from the sky that the group can’t help but investigate.
This one took an intense turn! Phew!
Part Four: Noah’s Story –
Diving right in to a ghost story, while these friends are on a hike near the sea, they see a storm blowing in. Rather than risking the tents, they sleep in a structure that was built into the ground. But when they wake up, everything has changed.
This one was so eerie! I loved guessing at what was going on, but having no idea until it was all laid out.
Part Five: Martha’s Story –
Promising more gore, Martha tells a tale that certainly keeps that promise!
This one starts building the dread slowly and then it just keeps piling on until the weight of the dread snaps and the tale takes a huge turn.
Part Six: Time To Leave –
Faced with a tricky decision, what will happen when they walk out of the woods?
PHEW, what an explosive ending!
My Favorite Passages from Four
What could be more enjoyable than eating meat from a portable grill, with a choice of cremated or dangerously pink in the middle?
Yes, camping, like any other getaway, provides an escape from daily life. But it also provides an escape from the safety of daily life. The protection of one’s house or flat is now gone. You are exposed, not just to the elements, but also to whatever creatures may be lurking nearby. Not to mention the most dangerous monsters of all – other people.
It was so easy that it made me realise just how much we trust people not to do us any harm, every day.
My Final Thoughts on Four
My goodness. This novella doesn’t just pack a punch of horror; it has a quick combination of a jab, a cross, and a hook, before finishing with an uppercut!
Once I started reading this tale, I didn’t look up from the pages until I hit the final sentence.
DO NOT READ THIS ONE WHILE CAMPING! There are so many fears here all bundled into one. If I ever go on a camping trip again, I will certainly be side-eyeing everyone constantly and I will not ask everyone to share their scary stories.
Horror fans, go pick up a copy of this one today!
Thanks for reading!
I cannot wait to dive into more of this author’s work! I have two other books sitting on my Kindle now, so stay tuned for more!