Review: Skinner by David Bernstein

skinnerAbout Skinner

For six close friends, a weekend away turns deadly when their vehicle skids off the road and crashes in a remote part of the Adirondack Mountains.

In the direct path of a blizzard, they are hurt, cold and scared, wondering if they’ll make it through the night. But the group’s luck seemingly changes when they take refuge in a small cabin.

Their plan is simple: wait for the storm to pass. But there is something else out there that has its own plans for them.

Invade. Reveal secrets. Invoke madness. Make enemies out of friends. Create chaos. And shed blood.

About the Author

David Bernstein is a dark fiction writer, a horror writer. He writes the gamut, from atmospheric horror to extreme gory horror to dark fiction and dark thriller, oh, and the occasional bizarro tale. Please visit him at for more about him and his work or on Facebook.

My Thoughts

I have a bit of a soft-spot for horror set in snowy climes, so I was very curious to see what David Bernstein would have in store for readers in SKINNER. For the most part, I was pretty pleased.

The opening chapters hit all the right notes for me, satisfying expectations for a story of this type, but also offering up some intriguing differences. The group stops at a creepy old gas station along the mountain route to a cabin in the woods, and encounter the creepy old gas station attendant - pretty standard fare and an expected well-worn horror staple. When a crazy and sudden snow storm sets in and the travelers are forced off the mountain path in the wake of a car accident, the fun sets in. They find an abandoned shack in the woods, and tensions rise quickly as the supernatural element of the story barges in to wreak havoc and they find themselves surrounded by wolves.

There were some good surprises in the group dynamic, as these friends are forced to confront some awful truths about themselves, and the survival elements bring in a heady dose of fun. The action is well done, and the writing is pretty solid and well-paced. In fact, the good elements in this story far outweigh my few nitpicks. One point of contention is that some of the supernatural stuff here feels cribbed from a Grimm's' Fairy Tale and felt a little too borrowed from the fantasy genre for my tastes. Another issue I had, and I'll issue a small SPOILER WARNING here is that multiple characters end up wandering down the tracks of similar trains of thought, mostly about how, when they escape, they're going to get filthy rich off their story. They get so wrapped up in their imaginings that they completely forget about how much danger they're in and have to be sucked back into reality by their buddies. I spent most of the story thinking this was a result of manipulations from the menace they face, but it happens a few times too often that I started to wonder if it was simply a one-note idea or if these characters were really all just that shallow. It's a minor gripe, and one I'm largely willing to overlook simply because the ride was enjoyable enough.

So, as I said earlier, I dig snow-driven horror and climate-based survival stories are one of my favorite subgenres within horror. Ultimately, Bernstein delivered what I was looking for quite well. The fantasy elements weren't my cup of tea, but the character interactions and bursts of violence and ratcheting tension held my attention and kept me glued to the page. Mostly it was just an entertaining and fun bit of reading. Nicely done, Mr. Bernstein.

Buy Skinner At Amazon

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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