The Excursion

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One of the most intense psychological thrillers of the year, The Excursion, will have its readers on the edge of their seats. The story is told in the first person from the points of view of the main character Charly from both past and present perspectives and that of Zaroff Enterprises excursion leader Randall Thorne.

Charly has struggled through life. Her family consists of her mother, an alcoholic and drug addict, her brother Jacob who is autistic, and her father, Johnathan, who left the family when Charly was a little girl. After living on the street, enduring abusive relationships, and finally reconnecting with her brother, Charly’s life is starting to get better. Her mother, now in hospice, has called Charly to come over for a visit. While at the assisted living center, Charly’s mother tells her that her father is dead and has left her money and the old cabin they used to vacation at. This means that in a few years, when Charly can claim the money, she and Jacob will be set. Of course, Charly is overjoyed at the surreal situation.

The reader is then introduced to Randall, a man who is bad news no matter how you look at it. He is selling the opportunity of a lifetime, an exclusive excursion, to the right person. A hunting excursion. The difference? Unbeknownst to the hunter, the prey is not in the form of wild animals. Barry Rockwell, an attendee at one of Randall’s hard-sell presentations, is the perfect fit for the excursion–an avid, experienced hunter who has money to burn. Randall immediately latches onto him and bullies Randall into accepting the opportunity.

Author T.O. Paine does an amazing job of placing the reader in both Charly and Randall’s shoes. In the chapters narrated by Randall, he truly embraces the misogynistic ways of the character, especially when he repeats how stupid of a woman Kennedy is.

Charly invites her cousins Amanda and Cam to the cabin for the holidays. They both accept. Somehow, she also convinces Jacob that it will be fun, although he remembers that Cam is not a nice person. On the way to the cabin, Jacob panics, and Charly crashes their car into a snowbank. They are picked up by none other than Barry and his girlfriend, Kennedy. From here on out, the situation plays out like a cross between the movies A Cabin in the Woods and No Exit with a little bit of The Hunger Games thrown in. My eyes were glued to the book the whole time I was reading it, ready for what would happen next. There are quite a few violent parts in the book, however, these are very well-written and crucial to the plot of the story. I do have to say Jacob’s unpredictable behavior was unnerving at times, and this really made everything more difficult for Charly. The climax of the book builds until it seems like there is nowhere else to turn. Paine throws a perfect curveball at the end to shock his readers. Riveting from cover to cover, The Excursion is the perfect book for fans of thrillers and action in the wilderness novels.

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Star Count 5/5
Format eBook
Page Count 420 pages
Publisher Dark Swallow Books
Publish Date 23-Oct-2022
ISBN 9798986695822 Buy this Book
Issue October 2022
Category Mystery, Crime, Thriller