Those Who Came Before by J.H. Moncrieff is a story of bloodshed and a creature of legend that brutalizes a town after a mistake is made on a seemingly innocent camping trip.
Content Warnings include rape and police brutality.
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on Those Who Came Before
When four people go into the woods for a camping trip, tension is high and they decide to call the trip and head home the next morning rather than staying for the full weekend. But when the sun rises, only one of the campers is left alive… the others have been brutally murdered.
The survivor calls the police, who can’t believe what they’re seeing when they arrive.
While looking over the scene, the lead detective hears something being whispered to her that no one else hears. Knowing the force will think she’s losing it, she goes to other sources to get answers for the investigation.
As time passes, more people die. Can the investigators and locals work together to solve what’s going on before it’s too late?
My goodness. This story starts off tense and only gets darker from there! While the mystery is filled with twists and turns, there are also many elements of a thriller mixed in. The author slowly presents pieces of the puzzle to the readers at a pace that feels like we’re getting closer to having the full image, but not enough for us to yet see what’s going on.
For main characters, we follow the survivor, Reese Wallace, the lead detective, Detective Maria Greyeyes, and a woman from the past, Little Dove, that just may hold they key to unlocking this case. As the author rotates through the different perspectives, we also jump from the present into the past, slowly learning more about what is happening and most importantly, why.
This is a perfect example of dual timelines working well! Each one could really stand on their own legs, but they’re much more powerful together. I had a hard time putting this book down! Just when I thought I got to a good stopping place, I’d read a few sentences of the next chapter, remember where that timeline had left off, and had to keep going!
The story tackles some very heavy elements and does it in a beautiful way while still holding on to the full horror of each situation. But don’t get me wrong, this one doesn’t sugarcoat anything. Your blood is going to boil, and you’ll feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up in fear of what’s to come.
While there are some doozy content warnings for this one, I personally felt that everything was handled with care, but be careful if you’re unsure.
This way my first read from this author, and I cannot wait to pick up more very soon. The atmosphere that she created combined with the amazing characters and quickly paced storyline made this an awesome read! Even through the difficult scenes, I was sucked right in.
My Favorite Passages from Those Who Came Before
Why those kids had decided to spend the night here, instead of running away screaming, she’d never understand. But again, most people tended to ignore their instincts.
Creeping to the foyer like a thief, I held my breath as I stole my own keys, curling my fingers around the metal so they wouldn’t jangle. Nothing but snoring from the living room. As long as I could make it out of here before Mom got home, I was free. The idea of escaping, of getting out of this house, sent a tingle of anticipation through me. My sneakers made no sound on the carpet. The front door, recently treated with WD-40 by yours truly, warned of my betrayal with a wheeze rather than a squeak.
“…Do not let bitterness twist your heart into something unrecognizable.”
My Final Thoughts on Those Who Came Before
This haunting tale is one that I would highly recommend. It really sank it’s claws into me and take me on a dark and powerful trip. My heart broke for these characters as I learned more about what was actually happening.
A must-read for fans of supernatural horror with a heavy dose of gore and mystery.
Snag a copy through Bookshop to help support local indie bookshops:
Thanks for reading!
And thanks again to the publisher for sending me a beautiful hardcover copy of this one from the giveaway I won during the Flame Tree Live & Spooky event!