The TroopI love horror films but it is rare that a book in the horror genre satisfies and excites as much as a good movie. The Troop by Nick Cutter is one of few to hit the mark.

Set on a small uninhabited island off Prince Edward Island in Canada, a small group of scouts – Troop 52 – is dropped off with their scout master, local doctor Tim Riggs. The aim is to spend the weekend on the island, orienteering and practicing their survival skills. But when a man who is more cadaver than human and can’t stop eating arrives on the island, he brings with him an infection which threatens every living creature. What are the origins of the infection? Who will it attack next? And is there any way to escape it’s virulent clutches?

Tagged as a cross between Lord of the Flies and The Ruins, Cutter masterfully shows how quickly civilisation breaks down in the face of terror. Before long, the true natures of the boys emerge and the secrets that they once found so important are forgotten in the face of possible extinction. The strong appear weak and the weak find hidden reserves of bravery they never thought it was possible for them to show. And the least we say about Shelley the better.

I loved the structure of this book. The author switches between the narrative and reports in local press, magazine articles and official enquiry documents, allowing the truth of the story to emerge slowly. I was gripped and read The Troop over two evenings. Yes, at first gland the characters seem ciphers – the strong bully, the creepy kid, the nerd – but cutter imbues them with a humanity and realism often missing in other books of this genre.

This book isn’t for the squeamish, but if you like your horror terrifying and visceral – not to mention hungry – this is definitely the book for you.

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