Following the reign of terror that was McRandle, killer of the Dublin docks, horror strikes the Irish town once more. In the year of 1892 the woods of Dublin become host to a brutal murder of a budding couple who dare enter it. Ignoring local superstitions, the two trespass into cursed land, and discover the truth behind the dreaded place, at the expense of their lives at the hands of the escaped lunatics of the local asylum.
Concurrently, after outwitting McRandle, Mick Patrician has made it his life purpose to destroy and remove the evil that lurks in the Woods. He now comes to also discover the strange and hideous history that perpetuates the cycle of insanity, murder, and war that now plays out on this stage in a freakish crossing of ancient Egyptian curses, magic, ghosts, lingering remains of at least one World War, magical plants, and aliens, all perpetuated through a failed staking of a double four-leafed clover infused mummy. The greatest crossover in history comes together in the sequel to The Haunted Trail, The Haunted Trail: The War of Dublin Woods by John C Lukegord.
Somewhat evident from the summary, the book seems to present itself as parody, yet continually straddles the line between tongue-in-cheek humor and sincerity. Much like the former chapter in the series, multiple, conflicting elements are mashed together to present an exotic and off-beat blend. The remarkable choice of Dublin as a setting is commendable for its rich histories and particular feel, sadly consistently underutilized in favor of its own invented elements that, combined with all other disparities, invites the idea that the choice was again for obscurity over anything otherwise.
In short, the book is ridiculous, and perhaps far more aware of the fact that the concept is impossible to take seriously than its predecessor. However, the book still fails to properly understand the properties of its craft; the book is clearly aiming for some level of parody, yet only goes so far as bizarre elements and never digging into the shared elements and developed conception of what humor could be derived from the situations arising.
Nonetheless, it is unique, utterly – it can certainly be said that there is no other story with a similar plot outside of the most obscure, likely less-entertaining B-movies and pulp fiction. The writing is somewhat reasonable, though at times plain and jarringly aloof in its ability to describe a situation, remaining marginally detracted from the action yet still with a focus on the interesting aspects as the story goes on. The characters are similarly underwhelming in terms of any deep exploration, more pawns in the grander scheme than remarkable agents in the tale. Once more, the piece evokes that B-movie feel, and for its flaws still has a sense of passion to its writing that cannot be denied. It is a pity that the cover, again like its previous title, uses a cover littered with mismatched stock imagery that reflexively turns the eye away.
This volume is listed as the third volume at certain retailers, but currently remains the only other installment of The Haunted Trail series to date. Lukegord has also recently published a book outside of The Haunted Trail series, A Stalker’s Journey, in which similarly Lukegord’s bizarre writing direction returns. While this style may appeal to a cult audience, but remains a joke difficult for many of us to comprehend in its delivery, he’ll hopefully hone this in future titles.