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Nine-year-old Trisha goes on a nature hike on a stretch of the Appalachian Trail with her mother and teenage brother. She demonstrates her lack of awareness that she is a character in a Stephen King novel as she ducks quickly off the path to take a bathroom break, takes what she thinks is a shortcut to catch up with her family and ends up, well, a little bit lost.
Let the horrors begin.
A film adaptation directed by George Romero was planned but is stuck in Development Hell. Also of note is an illustrated pop-up book version of the story released in 2004.
This novel contains examples of:
- Adult Fear: This is King in 'horror is what could actually happen' mode. The book occasionally takes short breaks from Trish's ongoing nightmare to see how her parents and brother are dealing with theirs.
- Baseball: Trisha's favourite sport and listening to a game on her Walkman helps her keep her sanity.
- Break the Cutie: Kind of the entire point...
- Bug Buzz: Bugs are a running theme. The flies around the dead deer, crickets, wasps...
- Cool, Clear Water: Subverted; Trisha drinks some Cool Clear Water when she runs out of her bottled water. It causes a severe bout of vomiting and diarrhea, although she luckily manages to get over it relatively quickly. Less fortunately, that appears to because it weakened her system enough that she got a worse illness, and her body just gave up on purging the toxins..
- Daddy's Girl: Trisha.
- Don't Go in The Woods
- Everything's Worse with Bears: The story is set in the Appalachian woods.
- Fan Girl: Trisha is one to her favourite baseball player, Tom Gordon.
- Gosh Hornet: She gets stung all over by some evil Wasps
- Hearing Voices: The Insanity Berry flavour.
- Heroic BSOD: But she recovers. Kids are resilient that way.
- It Got Worse
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane
- Nature Is Not Nice: The only real enemy Trisha faces is the cruelty of nature. Or it could be an evil forest spirit.
- Nobody Poops: Averted. Particularly after a very dehydrated Trisha gorges herself after she finally discovers a stream.
- Stay on the Path: Trisha did not, unfortunately.
- Swamps Are Evil: Making her way through one swamp leaves Trisha so traumatised that when she stumbles across another she can't face the prospect and turns back, not realising that beyond the second swamp lies safety.
- Tantrum Throwing: Trisha's initial reaction when she realises just how dire her situation is. Justified in that she's nine years old, terrified and alone.
- Through the Eyes of Madness: The creature that stalks Trisha, and eventually confronts her at the book's climax: is it just a black bear, distorted by her fear and her fever-induced hallucinations? Or is it really the supernatural horror, the "God of the Lost" she imagined it to be as it stalked her, and during her mental duel with it? Just to toy with you, the novel has someone else witness it who seems to provide the objective truth of it being a black bear... then it turns out he thought it was something else for a moment, too, and he's a drunk and no more reliable.
- Unintentional Period Piece: Due to the fact that Tom Gordon was, at the time, the closer for the Boston Red Sox. He would shortly thereafter fall out of baseball for awhile.
- Wild Wilderness: The setting for the story.
- The Worm That Walks: The herald of the God of the Lost, composed of innumerable yellow insects endlessly crawling over a yellowing, decayed human skeleton.