4-Star · Book Reviews

Campfire by Shawn Sarles|Spoiler-Free Review

36504059Title: Campfire
Author: Shawn Sarles
Publication Date: July 17, 2018
Genre(s): YA, Mystery/Thriller
Source: Won ARC in a giveaway
Pages: 304
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While camping in a remote location, Maddie Davenport gathers around the fire with her friends and family to tell scary stories. Caleb, the handsome young guide, shares the local legend of the ferocious Mountain Men who hunt unsuspecting campers and leave their mark by carving grisly antlers into their victims’ foreheads.

The next day, the story comes true.

Now Maddie and her family are lost in the deep woods–with no way out–being stalked by their worst nightmares. Because there were other, more horrifying stories told that night–and Maddie’s about to find out just how they end…




Okay, so Campfire is one of those books that you have to go into knowing what you’re going to get. I felt this way with Stephanie Perkins book, There’s Someone Inside Your House as well.

TW/CW: murder/slasher scenes, blood/gore, animal killing (deer, twice), suicidal thoughts, domestic/child abuse (mentioned briefly)

What I liked:

I really enjoyed the premise of this book. Something about the ideas of scary stories around the campfire coming to life is always a fun premise.

I also liked the creativity of the stories. While they personally were not things I found scary, I can see how some readers will definitely be creeped out or scared by them. Also, I feel like these stories may be better enjoyed with the audiobook. Personally, I preferred being told scary stories over reading them myself.

In the beginning, there was a little sense of is this real? in the early set up for the characters, and I thought that was a cool framing device. The flashback in the prologue and the first chapter stark contrast was a bit disorienting but in a good way.

What Brought Down My Rating:

I don’t want to go as far as to say that I didn’t like this stuff, because I really did enjoy some of these things. That being said, in the context of the book, it didn’t really work (at least not for me).

Disclaimer: I don’t think this falls under actual spoilers, but proceed with caution/jump to final thoughts if you want to go into this book completely blind.

The red herring in this story felt a bit too obvious. When this character was accused of being the murderer, I found myself immediately dismissing them. The fact that some of the characters try to oversell this kind of took away the tension. I would have liked a bit more tension between suggesting and accusing this person before the final confrontation.

As for who actually done it, I kind of guessed who and why before the reveal. I’m still not sure if that ruined it for me, or if I just don’t fully agree with the motives. I also wish there was a bit more explanation regarding one part of the reveal. The other part was something I think that was supposed to be a reveal, but the way the foreshadowing was presented, I think it accidentally gave it away early (at least for me). I will definitely post add a spoiler corner to this review after the book comes out (I’m writing it now, just publishing it next month), because I have some thoughts [Okay, I think that’s also I can say while remaining vague].

As for the stories around the campfire, I actually wanted more of them. I think they were the strongest premise of the book and would have loved more. We had a large cast of characters and I think one or two more stories may have added to the tension.

I’m honestly torn on how much I like the characters. There were times I really liked them and were sucked into their story, but other times I strongly disliked them and felt more attached. Now, I get that our main character is young, like 16, but there were times I felt that she was a tad annoying and it took me out of the story a bit. That’s a personal thing though.

Final Thoughts

While I liked the concept of this one more than the execution, I still had a blast reading this book. When this book is released, I am going to give the audiobook a listen. With a narrative focused so heavily on someone telling stories, I’m curious to see if I like having a narrator tell me the story more than physically reading it.

My opinions aside, I do feel like this is a book that many people will thoroughly enjoy! The creepy atmosphere and campfire stories are perfect for summer months or around Halloween. This is another book that reads like a slasher film, cheesy moments and all, and fans of that genre will probably really enjoy this one!

This is also a great pick for someone who wants to get into reading more horror. There are some creepy and gory moments in this book, and the overall plot is perfect for someone new to horror.

Overall, I liked this one and will probably give it another read when I’m in the mood for a spooky story.


⭐️⭐️⭐️✨ – 3.5-3.75/5 Stars

2 thoughts on “Campfire by Shawn Sarles|Spoiler-Free Review

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