The Mountain King
Leisure Books, 2001; Cemetery Dance, 2011 (eBook)
Reviewed by Michael R. Colllings
Rick Hautala’s The Mountain King is a solid horror story, well told.
It is not narrative overlaid with or supporting philosophy, religion, or sociology. It does not grapple with the vast un-solvables of pollution, global climate change, equality of the sexes, marriage equality, or gun control (although a certain amount of gun control would have made things extremely difficult for Hautala’s characters). In fact, it leaves such concerns at the base of the mountain that is the story’s eponymous landscape.
Instead, it is a story of a man. And a monstrum. And the battle for life or death between them.
Mark Newman and his closest friend, Phil Sawyer, are hiking a trail on one of Maine’s highest peaks, Mount Agiochook, when a sudden blizzard forces them to move down-mountain as fast as possible. When Phil falls from a narrow, icy ledge, Mark must watch in impotent terror as something—a huge, hairy, man-like creature—sweeps down on Phil’s body and carries it away.
When Mark returns to town, no one believes his story that Phil slipped. Worse, he comes under suspicion of complicity in Phil’s death. And worst yet, while he is absent, hunting for Phil—or Phil’s body—his wife’s lover is brutally murdered. There is no clear evidence that Mark had anything to do with the killing, but when the local authorities begin a sweep through the forests for Phil, at least a few of them are looking for Mark as well…as a murderer.
In the meantime, he is also being pursued by the creature…or creatures.
If you are looking for a deep, ‘relevant’ tale of man versus society or of a society gone wrong and making life intolerable for the hero, The Mountain King is not for you.
If you are looking for a horror novel that takes as its premise that monsters can be as vengeful and bloodthirsty as those that hunt them; or for a novel that sets events in motion then rings as many changes on those events as possible; or simply a novel that has as its primary purpose to entertain through thrills and chills, and occasionally through outright physical grossness and bloodiness, then The Mountain King is well worth a read.
–Reviewed by Michael R. Collings