First published back in August of 2018, prolific pulp horror master Guy N Smith’s novel ‘Sabat 5: Wistman’s Wood’ formed the penultimate installation in the author’s Sabat series.

DLS Synopsis:
Mark Sabat, ex-priest, SAS-trained killer and exorcist had retired. He’d left the hustle and bustle of London for a far quieter life, having purchased a small cottage in Darmoor’s Two Bridges, which overlooked the moors and the nearby Wistman’s Wood.

Mark Sabat had only been in his new cottage for a few days when his sleep became troubled by the presence of his evil brother – Quentin Sabat. With his lifelong enemy quite unexpectedly entering his mind, Mark Sabat knew Quentin’s evil soul must have returned, and with that, their eternal struggle had begun once again. The question suddenly plaguing Sabat’s mind - was his evil brother now at work here?

The locals claimed Wistman’s Wood was haunted. Big black dogs had reportedly been seen roaming at night in and around the strange woodland. The Devil’s Wisht Hounds they called them. Nearby, Lych Way was known as the Way of the Dead, where corpses were said to be buried in ancient times. Local rumours whispered seeing ghostly funeral processions up there in the hours of darkness, the spectral figures on their way to bury the dead. 

Upon learning of these local legends and whispered stories, passed down from generation to generation, Sabat becomes convinced his new location is an area steeped in evil from the past.

And then seemingly from out of the blue, Sabat is contacted by a distraught woman whose husband has gone missing in Wistman’s Wood. A search of the area reveals nothing. As if the man had simply vanished. Disappeared in the beat of a heartbeat. The local police suggest the man has merely had enough and left his wife. But Sabat knows better.

However, with reports of an approaching hurricane on the news, time is running out to find the missing man. And before long, others start going missing. Mark Sabat know that there’s only one option for them now. He must come out of retirement and battle the undead evil lurking in Wistman’s Wood, and in doing so, face down Quentin Sabat once again…

DLS Review:
Unbelievably, when this fifth Sabat book was penned and subsequently released, it had been thirty-five years since the publication of the previous Sabat book. That’s insane! Thirty-five years! Indeed, Smith has worked this into the story, with the mighty Mark Sabat now putting his feet up for a well-deserved retirement (or so he thinks!).

Mark Sabat might be moving on in years, but the character (and indeed Smith’s own writing) is still as fiery and strong as ever. As such, what we have here is another book in the much-loved Sabat series that sits shoulder-to-shoulder with the original four instalments. Indeed, the book has it all in there. Everything that we loved about the original books, with all that pulpy entertainment delivered like a Hammer Horror movie that’s been ramped up a couple of hundred notches.

As always, for all those who haven’t read the previous instalments, the book sets down the usual introduction to Sabat and his eternal conflict with his undead evil brother. With that out the way, it swiftly turns to establishing the classic Guy N Smith backdrop – the rural setting of Two Bridges and in particular that of Wistman’s Wood.

At this point you absolutely need to hit Google. Wistman’s Wood is a real place in Devon – pretty much slap-bang-wallop in the middle of Dartmoor’s expansive National Park. A few minutes internet browsing will reveal an incredibly perfect setting for a Smith novel – and indeed, the local myths and legends which Smith has keenly adopted for his book.

This ideal setting for a Sabat book becomes one of the focal points for the story and a driving element behind the plot. From here on we’re introduced to all your typical characters of a Smith novel – mumbling old yokels ranting about curses and the like, a troubled youth with a love of pyromania and a box of matches, a stubborn and disbelieving Detective Inspector, and of course the sexy widow who quickly becomes the new love interest for our dashing hero.

In fact, it’s barely a couple of chapters before good old Mark Sabat has gotten this woman into bed with him. She’s a botanist from Aberdeen who’s there collecting samples of the vegetation in Wistman’s Wood. However, a cheeky smile and a few charming words from our moustachioed SAS trained exorcist, and she’s like putty in his hands.

As with all Smith novels, there’s a cast of secondary characters thrown in to keep the storyline rich and varied. One such character is author of the paranormal, Paul Adams, who contacts Sabat about the woman’s missing husband. Paul Adams is in fact a real person and good friend of Guy’s (the book is dedicated to him). Paul would often attend Guy’s annual fan conventions and was nothing but a charming fella who we all enjoyed seeing each year.

Anyway, when Sabat’s not chasing his new piece of tail, he’s up in Wistman’s Woods witnessing all sorts of spectral happenings. And then things start to turn decidedly dangerous. But of course they do! All of a sudden we have undead locals, those who had been deemed missing, turning up and doing the will of Quentin Sabat, as if they are now mere puppets to this malevolent puppeteer.

It certainly seems that the presence of Sabat (or more precisely his evil brother) has brought out all sorts of evil that had been lurking within this ancient woodland. Throughout this, Smith keeps up the tension and keeps up the pace, delivering the next bout of over-the-top pulpish horror.

There’s absolutely loads in the novel to love. It feels like a textbook Guy N Smith novel, exactly as we all hoped it would. Even with thirty-five flippin’ years having passed since the last Sabat book, Smith hasn’t lost his touch one bit.

For all those who loved the original Sabat stories, this next instalment does not disappoint. Mark Sabat is back, and despite his mumblings of retirement, he’s still got plenty left in him to take on the forces of evil.

The novel runs for a total of 143 pages.

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘Sabat’ instalments:


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