Edward Lee, well known for his demented horror and rich sexual imagery, delivers a rather strange book focusing on a small town dominated by crab picking ‘squatters’. The squatters are about as unusual as you can get when they speak you barely see their mouths move, they’re amazingly short, the women possess eerily appetizing bodies, and they’re all living together on a type of plantation in oddly structured abodes. And of course people such as this practice a different kind of religion that causes all us normal folk to raise an eyebrow or so.
The main character in all this, though, isn’t a squatter. She’s a lawyer, which can be just as bad. Beautiful, intelligent, and protective of her sister, Patricia is back home, pushing away painful memories, and suddenly being overcome by strange sexual urges. Her character is real enough to be believable, and her overall demeanor was likeable. Backwoods is told through multiple points of view, with her dominating the show. Characters in general were interesting enough and didn’t harm the story.
The plot is bleak, strange, a bit depressing, certainly dark - demented Lee style. He never promises happy endings. It’s not possible to guess who will bite the big one and who will live or even, really, who the real friends are. While starting as an intriguing mystery, too much was let out in the beginning. As a result the mystery alone wasn’t the reason to hang on. But have no fear, for horror fans rarely want to read horror to have a mystery, instead they want terror and they certainly get it here. Several scenes are disturbing, gruesome, with not much held back.
Overall this was an entertaining read about an unusual culture, with a captivating main character, sexual tension, and chilling scenarios. On the bad side the very ending let me down a bit, as it seemed cut off and overly grim. Also, I never fully got the sexual urges Patricia experienced; more information in this area is welcome.
If you’re a fan of Lee or bizarre horror, be sure to check this one out.