Greg F. Gifune
JournalStone (December 3, 2021)
Reviewed by Ray Palen

Greg F. Gifune has long been operating under the radar in the horror genre. Those in the know recognize that he is one of the top voices operating in the genre today and his latest work, THE GYPSY MOTHS firmly plants him there to stay. Gifune selects a very apt quote to kick things off: ‘I wished I knew what nature’s way was, because all that was happening in our family did not seem to be natural or normal.” – Richard Ford, Wildlife

In the prologue, set in the spring of 1977, we learn of a string of peeping tom stories that had been sweeping the small town of Samoset, Massachusetts. 14-year-old Frankie Molinari remembers that time well, because it was the summer before he was to begin high school. It was also the summer his father warned him that the thing watching the house that sometimes invaded his young dreams, was waiting for him.

The narrative within THE GYPSY MOTHS jumps between that summer of 1977 and 2017. Between the end of the innocence for Frankie and his friends, and the now troubled middle-aged men who return to the place where everything changed, who now must deal with the death of one of their own who never made it out of Samoset. Gifune has done a superb job echoing Stephen King at times in this novel, enough to give you chills. Frankie recalls playing Ouija with his Dad back in 1977 and watching that eerie planchette spell out I AM WATCHING. His buddy Shawn’s dad had warned them about the gypsy moths coming back that year, and not in an entomological manner. He warned them that the moths and something else had returned, and that they were both very hungry.

Shawn plays right into this as he tells his friends about seeing something that resembled a large buck with a huge rack of antlers, only this creature stood on two legs and towered over anything he had ever seen in the woods before. People started to be reported missing that summer and teens, along with many adults who weren’t afraid to talk about their superstitions, believed what the returning gypsy moths were foretelling. Frankie does some research and believes the creature responsible for the fear that is permeating his town is called ‘the wendigo.’

THE GYPSY MOTHS is so well told, even with the time-jumping between 1977 and 2017—a gimmick that is overused in modern thrillers today—and Gifune is able to maintain both the suspense and the native American legend at the heart of this horrific slice of blended ancient and modern horror.

About Ray Palen