DiscoverHorror

Van

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Worth reading 😎

A Norwegian dark elf follows a man to America and takes up in a Minnesota forest, using the bodies of a few men to go on a bloody rampage.

Synopsis

At the turn of the twentieth century, an ancient evil accompanies Alexander Gunderson on his journey from Norway to America. Years later, in a moment of desperation and despair, Alexander makes a deal with this entity - and it’s come to collect. Unwittingly, he unleashes the evil upon the unsuspecting residents of in Ellis, Minnesota. It yearns to find a suitable human vessel, but instead inhabits an old Chevyvan, compelling anyone who owns it to commit unspeakable acts of violence. Now, nearly thirty years later, Alexander’s great-grandson Thomas must face his worst nightmare as he returns to Ellis to rid the town of the evil once and for all.

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Ramsay Elise for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.


Always up for a good horror novel, I was drawn to this recently published piece, in hopes that Ramsay Elise could pique my attention. The premise seemed good and left me wanted to know a little more about her horror-filled tale with Norwegian undertones. When Alexander Gunderson settles in Minnesota, he has more than his luggage from Norway. Gunderson discovers a Dökkálfar, a dark elf from Norwegian lore in the woods behind his home. Rather than kill Gunderson, the Dökkálfar strikes a deal with him and takes over a van the retired car salesman owned. Anyone who owns a van of this nature is susceptible to becoming a vicious killer, controlled by the Dökkálfar. From a local serial killer in Minnesota to a killer who targeted Spring Break revellers in Florida, the Dökkálfar has been working hard to bring out bloodshed. However, the ultimate test will be Alexander’s great-grandson, Thomas, who must face off against the Dökkálfar and remove the pall enveloping the small Minnesota community. As Thomas returns to the town of his birth, he realises that much remains the same, with the Dökkálfar still lurking in the woods. To destroy the pact his great-grandfather made will be harder and more troubling than he could have imagined, but there is a sense of determination to see it through. An interesting tale that allows Elise to fan the flames on the Norse stories of old. While not entirely my type of book, there are surely some who will revel in its plot.


There is always a gamble when one discovers a new author, unsure how things will turn out and whether it will be worth the time spent reading. I have had many such moments in my reading career and today was another of them. I cannot take anything away from Ramsay Elise or the effort she put into this book, as I can see a gem in the premise and some of the plot developments. However, there is something lacking here, that would add much to the horror and terror, rather than simply serving as a tepid presentation of some past Norse elf with evil tendencies. I liked what was published as a skeletal outline for a larger and more complex piece, as it is sure to keep the reader on their toes, but Elise needs a great deal of time and effort to hash out what it add and how to bulk things up. The chapters flowed well and the three sections of the book proved useful (as did the Norse symbols to divide them), but I would be remiss to let this book stand as stellar or ready to dazzle the general public. More work and assistance would surely help Ramsay Elise rise to the top of her genre.


Kudos, Madam Elise, for a good effort. I’d read a more bulked up piece, should you have one down the road.



Reviewed by

I love to read and review all sorts of books. My passion is crime and thrillers, but there are so many other genres that pique my attention.

While I am not a full-time reader, I try to dedicate as much time to my passion as possible, as can be seen on my blog and Goodreads.

Synopsis

At the turn of the twentieth century, an ancient evil accompanies Alexander Gunderson on his journey from Norway to America. Years later, in a moment of desperation and despair, Alexander makes a deal with this entity - and it’s come to collect. Unwittingly, he unleashes the evil upon the unsuspecting residents of in Ellis, Minnesota. It yearns to find a suitable human vessel, but instead inhabits an old Chevyvan, compelling anyone who owns it to commit unspeakable acts of violence. Now, nearly thirty years later, Alexander’s great-grandson Thomas must face his worst nightmare as he returns to Ellis to rid the town of the evil once and for all.

The Northwoods Fisher

The Northwoods is the name given to the Laurentian Mixed Forest Province by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. It is a forested ecoregion that spans northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula of the United States. Tourists visit the parks of the Northwoods to view the fall foliage, and often stay the weekend as part of a family or fishing vacation. Ask anyone to describe the Northwoods, and they are likely to quote Robert Frost when they tell you that the woods are “lovely, dark and deep.” 

If you are not living in one of the states that make up the Northwoods, you likely have no idea what a fisher is. Part of the weasel family, fishers most closely resemble a large marten or mink. Contrary to their name, they do not fish. They are, however, incredibly skilled predators who can take on much larger prey, even challenging prey like porcupines. Of the latter, legend says that fishers are capable of scooping out its innards like ice cream, a gruesome but false claim. In reality, fishers will continually attack the porcupine’s face and underbelly, and once these wounds have weakened their prey, the fisher quickly finishes the job by biting the base of the neck. They are solitary hunters and have few predators.

A serial killer is actively targeting women in the northwest region of Minnesota. As his identity is unknown, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) has given him the nickname The Northwoods Fisher, or simply “The Fisher.” The Northwoods Fisher is thought to have been active for at least thirteen months. To date, law enforcement authorities have tied the Fisher to the molestation and murder or eight women.

The Northwoods Fisher’s name was coined from the victims' wounds bearing a resemblance to the predatory behavior of the fisher, and the victims who lived in towns incorporated around the Northwoods area. Karen Janus, Allison Weber, Stephanie Mueller and Marianne Gunderson were from Ellis, Edie O’Halloran from Bemidji, Judy Myers and Laurie Sorenson from Cass Lake and Melissa Carney from Blackduck. In addition to residing in Northwoods-adjacent towns, all but Gunderson were 17 years old at the time of their abduction and murder. All of the women had dark blonde hair, worn at least to their shoulders.

All but two of the women were found in the woods. Janus, O’Halloran, Myers, and Sorenson were buried in shallow graves. Weber was found face down in a stream after falling or being pushed down a hill. Carney was simply dumped in the woods, her body exposed to the elements, serving as sustenance for carrion animals. Mueller and Gunderson were found at a residence in Ellis, Minnesota.

The Fisher has also been labeled a “sex killer,” in part because all of the victims have been molested prior to their death, and in part because the Fisher is presumed to get gratification out of murdering the women, as semen has been found at six of eight locations where the bodies were found. Sometimes, the Fisher will strike multiple times in one week. This, along with a pattern of abducting women on weekend nights, tying them up in similar ways, and violating them before lethally mutilating their face, head and neck areas, lead authorities to conclude the crimes are being committed by one person.

The criminal profile established by the BAU further surmises that the Fisher is a man in his early to mid- thirties. He is sufficiently educated to be capable of initiating and sustaining a conversation. He is sufficiently attractive or charming to be capable of getting his victims alone or coercing them into a van. Though he may be using a disguise or a ruse to accomplish this. He operates only on weekends because he has a weekday job. He is either unmarried or in an unhappy marriage due to his inability to sustain normal relationships with women. The personal and violent nature of the attacks indicates that he does not have close relationships with his mother or other influential women in his life, or that his first formative experience with a woman ended in rejection.

It may be that the women disgust or offend him after he rapes and kills them. After disposing of the bodies, he does not want to think of or remember these women, as no clothing, jewelry, or any other “trophies” that most serial killers collect has gone missing from any of the victims. Given the times of disappearance to estimated time of death, he disposes of his victims’ bodies as quickly as possible after killing them. The location of the bodies indicate that the killer either knows the areas well or lives in or around the area.

The towns the killer operates in are very small, so he may know the victims personally. If they knew the killer, there is a chance that they would come willingly with him instead of being abducted. He is thought to be unarmed, but should be considered extremely dangerous.



About the author

Ramsay Elise is a forest fairy and unicorn enthusiast. She travels the world quite extensively in search of the next great adventure with a certain mer-man named Chad. She loves Christmas, all things horror, but most of all her cats. view profile

Published on December 07, 2019

30000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Horror

Reviewed by

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