The Isle, By John C. Foster, is a novel of isolation, dread, and small town terror. Part horror and part murder mystery, Foster has crafted a novel in which its greatest strengths are the immersion and atmosphere the reader will experience.
U.S. Marshall Virgil Bone is a man with a haunted past. Seemingly at the end of his career, he is assigned the menial task of retrieving the corpse of a fugitive from a small island town off the coast of Maine, but as can be expected, the Isle isn’t what it appears to be. Despite being close proximity to the state, The Isle is actually its own jurisdiction, and the residents live isolated from the mainland aside from a few fishermen who peddle their catch and return with supplies. From the start, Foster sets the tone with incredibly well written descriptions that continue throughout the novel. They’re detailed enough to establish a sense of isolation and dread while keeping a sense of foreboding just under the surface. You feel as if danger could lurk around any corner, even before anything happens. The richly built atmosphere, along with the history of The Isle itself really makes it feel as if it’s a character rather than a setting. This goes a long way to keeping the book interesting even as it slows down.
For as much fun as I had with The Isle, I do have a few complaints. Chief among them is that the story bogs down in the middle, something made more noticeable because it’s bookended by such a strong start and finish. My second complaint would be with the main protagonist, Virgil Bone. While Foster does make an effort to develop his backstory, it never really pays off. I found Bone to be lackluster. He’s a character you neither love nor hate, which for me is an issue. I’d rather hate the main character than not care about them at all. My last complaint is a minor one, but it’s one that I noticed early on and continued to bug me as new residents would be introduced. Many of the townspeople had really odd names. I tried writing it off to being isolated from civilization, but then how do you Explain “Virgil Bone”
By the time I had reached the end, and despite a few things that bugged me, I felt satisfied with what Foster had written. Overall, I enjoyed my stay on The Isle.
With the Isle, Foster has crafted an atmospheric murder mystery. It’s a well written novel that despite flashes of greatness, doesn’t quite achieve it. I didn’t love The Isle, but I did like it. I had fun, and if the synopsis sounds interesting to you, I think you might like it too.
John is a native of Cranston, Rhode Island. He served 4 years in the United States Marine Corps, deploying twice to Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s a lover of all things horror, pizza and cheeseburgers. When he’s not reading or watching boxing he spends his time with his amazing wife and two beautiful sons.