If You Go Into The Woods

Rated 3.92/5 based on 28 reviews
If You Go Into The Woods is a collection of two unsettling short stories.

In the title story, Jiri Beranek is drawn to a nearby forest, but each time he enters, his desire to see the mysterious birds is checked by his fear of the dark. When he finally forces himself to go farther, he find a new reason to be afraid.

Plus bonus story: The Reset Button. Total length 4000 words. More

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Words: 6,020
Language: English
ISBN: 9781458081117
About David Gaughran

David Gaughran is a 34-year old Irish writer, living in Sweden, who spends most of his time travelling the world, collecting stories.

He is the author of the South American historical adventure "A Storm Hits Valparaiso" and the short stories "If You Go Into The Woods" and "Transfection" as well as the popular self-publishing guide "Let's Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should."

Also by This Author


Review by: rhonda laney on May 06, 2012 :
If you go into the woods is a collection of 2 short stories that I did not expect the ending.
First story is about a 8 year old boy who just moved tor a new town and he finds himself exploring and getting his courage to go deeper into the woods to find?
these are very short and fast reads. I was given this ebook to read in exchange of honest review from librarything.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Elizabeth Miller on Feb. 27, 2012 :
Really GOOD shorts stories. I would love to see If you go into the woods as a longer story. Writing style is tight and well done. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more from this author
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: J.C. Martin on Nov. 03, 2011 :
Both IF YOU GO INTO THE WOODS and THE RESET BUTTON are haunting psychological reads. A good Halloween read.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Marcel Krueger on Oct. 26, 2011 :
Very enjoyable collection, especially recommendable now in the run-up to Halloween.

I do however prefer the second the story, The Reset Button, over the title story. The open end/cliffhanger was too open ended for my taste.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Lenora Gogerty on Sep. 05, 2011 :
Nice collection of stories.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: T.T. Thomas on Aug. 19, 2011 :
These two stories were no less captivating for actually being short-shorts. I've been following David's blog with special attention to the epublishing business (which I'm now in, too!) but I had no idea he was such an accomplished fiction writer. His storylines sneak up on you. He's subtle but the stories hit hard. They are creepy in a very good way! Kudos to a very good writer. I can't wait to read more. T.T. Thomas
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: 77book on Aug. 11, 2011 : (no rating)
This short Story was received through LibraryThing Early Reviewers is a short, and easy read. As the stories were short I did not wait, and read these soon. Both this story, and the accompanying story, The reset Button, were enjoyable. Typically I think of short stories as being longer than these, but as I was disappointed when each finished perhaps they were the proper length. Although rather different from each other through characters and settlings, both stories gave the impression that some type of surreal events were occurring. Both introduced events that promised to help develop the main character through references to the past, but both left the reader unsure what had happened. The insinuation of past events gave an interest to the characters, and this did build a curiosity about them. The boy in the title story seems sad and the ending magnifies this. The second story has an ending that seems tragic. I enjoyed both stories and although they were somewhat predictable near the very end, both drew me in and I thought about the characters several times after finishing. When a book makes me think of the characters or the plot after I finish reading I tend to believe the authour did well.. The stories are about 4000 words, and did make for an enjoyable, albeit short, read. They were worth the time.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Abby Bookshelf Confessions on Aug. 10, 2011 :
if you go into the woods- though somewhat the title might not pick up your interest,..is a book to look out for...
this book actually contains 2 stories of Jiri and Linus...
both stories are mind-buggling, thrilling, compelling,...and just freakingly awesome... it has the composition of good and tantalizing words... which would actually lead you on to read and read..
i haven't finish reading the book ,so this review is not final..but one thing for sure..this is one of my favorites...
though i read some reviewers said..that..too bad..this story is just too short... but still great
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Ai-Peng Tang on Aug. 08, 2011 :
Any good story leaves a lasting impression and the same goes for a review, albeit a short one. I like both stories in "If you go into the woods" The stories do not try hard to impress you but rather, they build their presence, bit by bit, in a quiet manner but escalate into a horror that takes your breathe out, leaving a searing mark in your memory.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Jill Bemis on Aug. 07, 2011 :
Author David Gaughran’s surprise twist horror ending is found in two completely unrelated very short stories.


“If You Go Into The Woods” reads like an old fairytale. Irresistible chirping draws a young but troubled boy into the woods day after day, until the lure of the unknown draws him off the trail and literally up a tree. You will need to read the very short five page story to find out if he survives fear and panic to reveal what is really hidden in the branches.

Everybody in the television sitcom “Cheers” knew Norm, so why after years of week after week at the same bar, the same bakery, nobody remembers Linus or his name? His friends forgot him after the divorce and his ex-wife wishes their son would forget him. Is it Linus’ or everybody else’s problem? The twisted ending or the ending twist in “The Reset Button” will leave the reader wondering how so much could happen to one man in less than six pages.

None of the characters in either story are fully developed. Subplots are left dangling and unresolved at the end. Yet, both tales are a quick read with intriguing finales. Either story would make a promising first chapter in a horror novella or novel. Character motivation, conflict situations, and troubled relationships could be further developed to deliver a more powerful suspense tale.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: ggprof on Aug. 03, 2011 :
I received this ebook as part of a free giveaway program. Even after reading them, I will be keeping a copy on my reader though. The two stories in this collection are well-written and show the author’s ability at description and setting. The stories leave a great deal for reader interpretation. While the endings came a bit too soon for my taste, overall they were well written and presented.

I look forward to more from this author.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Jennifer Langevin on Aug. 01, 2011 :
I enjoyed the short stories in this book, but was not drawn in as completely as other Gaughran books. The book is still worth the read, though.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Alessia Esse on July 29, 2011 :
If You Go Into The Woods è una raccolta di due brevi racconti.
Il primo, che porta il nome del libro, è la storia di un bambino di 8 anni, Jiri, affascinato dalla foresta che si trova vicino casa e dagli uccelli che la popolano. Ha paura di addentrarsi fra gli alberi di sera, per cui decide di farlo al mattino, all'alba. Ed è proprio durante l'ennesima esplorazione che fa una scoperta piuttosto inquietante.
Il secondo racconto, The Reset Button, parla invece di Linus Eriksson, un uomo divorziato, con un problema tanto particolare quanto triste: nessuno si ricorda di lui. I clienti dei bar che frequenta, gli stessi baristi, i suoi amici. L'esistenza di Linus è invisibile agli occhi del mondo che lo circonda.

Ho apprezzato molto queste storie. La prima, per il senso di inquietudine che mi ha lasciato addosso. La seconda, invece, per aver aperto una finestra su un personaggio speciale, comune a tanti di noi.

La scrittura di Gaughran è qualitativamente positiva, mai pesante.
Unica pecca: avrei tanto voluto sapere cosa si nasconde dietro gli uccelli di Jiri.

Grazie all'autore per avermi permesso di ottenere una copia del libro.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Hannah Hummel on July 27, 2011 :
I really liked both of these stories. If You Go into the Woods and the bonus story, The Reset Button were immediately engaging.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Richaundra Patry on July 27, 2011 :
David Gaughran has a strong grasp of languages and a refinement of prose that shows he has been doing this for awhile.

The first story is suspenseful and relatable to anyone who enjoyed exploring on his/her own before being abruptly reminded of the dangers.

The second story leaves much open to interpretation, and again, the writing itself is strong, but I walked away a bit unsatisfied.

Perhaps it is because of the nature of short stories, but both felt a bit rushed to me, or at least that they could have benefited from some padding here and there. Overall though, I enjoyed this extremely short read
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: melsewee on July 26, 2011 : (no rating)
I enjoyed both short stories, "If You Go Into the Woods" and "Reset". Mr Gaughran built a fast picture of the characters and they are someone you know or can understand. I would like to know more about the how their lives continued.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Low Iron Only on July 24, 2011 :
"Eight-year old Jiri Beranek is drawn to a nearby forest, captivated by birds hidden high in the trees. Each time he enters, his desire to see the mysterious creatures is checked by his fear of the dark. When he finally forces himself to go farther, he finds a new reason to be afraid." This description quite peaked my interest, this story I want to know more about, David Gaughran writes a compelling story for which I applude him, but I feel this isn't really the story I read. His short story reads more, to me, as a book synopsis, then actually a short story. There was more underdeveloped back story, and Jiri, doesn't actually repeatly enter, we are told that "each time he went into the forest, and tried to go deeper, he would panic and bolt for the trail". I want to experience these attempts not just be told about them. As well, towards the end I am disappointed that the story ends as it does. I think there is a terrific story,but this to me, reads more like a first draft.

The second story, "The Reset Button", I enjoyed much better, but I feel at times it was a bit misdirected. The character here is descibed as being forgotten, which is carried through the story except till the end, we wishes he had a reset button, but my understanding, having read the story was more of the sci-fi feel as if his reset button was already pressed. So to me I didn't understand why we would want to press it. IT had that back and forth arguement for me of having it been half pressed.

More thoughts can be found on my blog.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: R Shelton on July 24, 2011 :
After reading these two stories, I thought they sounded familiar for some reason. Then I realized I was reading two modern day short story versions of the Twilight Zone. As a kid I always loved that little hook at the end (still do when I can find episodes on late at night) that comes with all the TZ episodes. These two stories are no exception.

Since these are both short stories, not much can be said without giving away any of the plot. The first is about a boy how hears things in the woods, and the second is about a man who has a bad day. Both are short, easy to read, and are unforgettable. I'm still thinking about the chirping.

I look forward to anything this author puts out in the future as I've realized he brings a fun twist to all his stories. His other book Transfection has the same feel but in sci-fi mode.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Dragon Souled on July 14, 2011 :
The two tales in this work are very thought provoking. I especially enjoyed the feeling of building in "If you go into the woods". The language of the author bespeaks a poetic abstractness that is enticing and quite entertaining. In "The Reset Button" I believe we can all find something in common with the main character. I would definitely take the time to read these two stories, they will definitely keep you thinking long after you put them down.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Naima Haviland on July 12, 2011 :
David Gaughran’s book If You Go into the Woods, is a pairing of two short stories, the first of which gave the book its name. The stories are smooth and introspective. Each focuses on, and in the mind of, one character.

The protagonist in If You Go into the Woods is the fatherless 8 year old Jiři. He is at the fork in the road of childhood where he will either become a good person or a bad person. He’s drawn to explore the forest near his house but is afraid of it. I won’t tell you what happens, only say that you’ll realize pretty soon that something is off, but you don’t know what.

The protagonist of Reset, the second story, is a loner named Linus. He isn’t out of touch with the world; the world seems to have made a joint agreement to let go of him. Released, Linus freefalls through 24 hours of quiet desperation. Something happens, but I won’t tell you what.

It has been a long time since I read a story that led me on instead of crashing in. The stories in If You Go into the Woods are unsettling, compelling, and thought provoking.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: V.K. Scott on July 10, 2011 :
This eBook contains two short stories: “If You Go Into the Woods,” and “Reset Button.” The first reads very much like a fairy tale, and I think the foreign setting really helped to set an otherworldly mood. I did have some questions about the significance of some character actions, but on the whole I understood and was intrigued by the child protagonist. My biggest complaint is that the story ended just as I was starting to feel creeped out. I’m fine, philosophically, with ambiguous endings, but I really wanted something more--more tension, more danger. More something.

The protagonist of “Reset Button,” Linus, was very well-drawn. I really felt for him and his plight of not being remembered--something we all feel and fear, I think--made him endearing in a way. Here, though, like with the previous story, something felt off with the ending. I honestly felt like I had missed something significant, as if there was some hidden meaning that I failed to grasp.

Gaughran’s writing is clear throughout, and the characters behaved consistently and believably. While these stories left me wanting a little bit more, I would be more than interested in checking out the author’s future work, especially at longer lengths.

Disclosure: I received these short stories as part of a free book giveaway.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: dolphinchick on July 07, 2011 :
"Unsettling" ... absolutely! In a wonderful can't stop thinking about it way! I really enjoyed both short stories..which are difficult to talk about, for me anyway, as I do not want to give anything away! ;) 'If you go into the woods' was great and even though I love the forrest around my home..it will now hold a new little bit of .. wait, did you hear that??? Sorry, it's just me, hopefully! 'The reset button' I loved too. I was more curious about what was happening in this second story, as opposed to feeling very anxious like I was with the the first story! Enough information was given about the characters that I was interested in them and cared about what happened to them. Of course I had a million questions and would have loved to have known more..but it added to it somehow. My mind can go over it and over it trying to think of interesting or scary or funny or sad things that could happen! So even though I finished reading quite quickly, it has stayed with me and my heart beats faster every time I think of a few key words out of the first story...READ IT AND YOU'LL SEE!!
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: justmax on July 06, 2011 :
This book consisted of two very short, beautifully written. stories. The first has the rhythm and lyrical prose of a fairy tale, the second, the terse, economy of words of science fiction. Yet, in fourteen short pages, author David Gaughran says more about the human condition than most writers can say in four hundred.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Martens Girl on July 06, 2011 :
I really enjoyed these two stories. They were written with a great economy of words and were quite haunting. Other reviews do not like the fact that they do not tie up loose ends by the end of the story, but I liked this. Both stories stopped abruptly and left me reeling- the weirdness stayed with me and kept me guessing over what I'd just read!
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: J. Bird on July 04, 2011 :
TLDR; Overall, a three-star set of stories. They are not bad stories, but they are not good/great stories, either. Both pieces feel more like the introduction, the beginning, the first half of what could be a great short story, but end rather abruptly at their climax. They don't need to give ALL of the answers, but there are gaps that leave too much to the reader's imagination to fill in. There's no denouement, no resolution. The potential and promise in these stories make them worth a read.

Mr. Gaughran has such great potential, and such a good voice for storytelling, I'd certainly recommend giving him a read, and I would definitely give more of his work a read.

Broken down review on each story in this set:

"If You Go Into The Woods"

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this particular short story.

Positives: Good introduction. I was interested in the characters, in the setting, and in the events about to unfold. The tension building moments were fairly well done. Overall solid storytelling voice/tone.

Middles: The story could use a little bit of an editor's touch. No major grammatical errors or typos, just a few places where the wording is redundant or awkward. This never really detracts from the overall experience of simply enjoying the story, however. (Starting a sentence with "but" and including "however" in the same sentence, as an example.)

Negatives: The story presents 'important details' that are never resolved or explained or even really addressed in a way that makes their presence feel necessary or actually-important. (The details about his mother, specifically.) The story felt like it ended at the climax. There's no sense of resolution. While some may find the ending an invitation to imagine the horrible (psychological terror is the most effective), it didn't actually leave me with enough or any sense of dread to justify it.

The Reset Button, David Gaughran

The best thing I can say about this short story is that it has immense promise. See my spoilers for various impressions - the final one making this feel more like the beginning of a good short story, rather than a full story on its own. Similar to "If You Go Into The Woods", I have mixed feelings.

Positives: The premise I think the author is trying to approach is very interesting. There are turns of phrase that are very well done. And again, a solid story telling voice.

Middles: Another story that could use some workshopping with an editor. There are details about the main character's life that could be explained more concisely (to make the point more poignant).

Negatives: It feels like there's something clever here that the author has not quite managed to bring through. I'm not entirely certain what has happened at the end of the story.

Spoiler Warning (stop reading if you want to read this for yourself without ruining any surprises):

Specifically, the keys being in a different location and Linus not remembering where they were at could indicate that the "Reset Button" is real. Not to mention, the ending itself would indicate that. It also indicates that Linus KNOWS about it. These interpretations make the scene at the first bar all the more confusing. If he knows about it, then what's the point in getting upset that no one at the bar remembers you? If the point is that everyone else has one? If, however, this is like the story "Big" (Tom Hanks - kid wishes to be "big" and wakes up in an adult body), and a matter of the Reset Button 'becoming true' at the end, then the story stops very abruptly and there is no sense in shared satisfaction between the reader and Linus.

There are simply a lot of mixed messages coming through in the story. Obviously his wife/son remember him well enough. And I never quite understood why he missed his previous visits with his son? Or why his ex-wife thought it perfectly reasonable to expect him to take his son to the zoo on a day when there's a snowstorm going on.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: TC on June 27, 2011 :
This book comprises two short stories. The first, the story of the title, introduces us to the world of 8 year old Jiri. He lives near a forest which has captured his attention. Although he is afraid of the dark recesses of the forest he wants to see the birds he hears high in the trees. When he finally plucks up the courage to take a look the dark becomes the last thing on his mind.

The second story, an e-book bonus, is The Reset Button. Linus Eriksson is divorced, living in a one bed batchelor pad and allowed only very limited custody to his son. He unfortunately seems to be completely forgetable to everyone he meets.

Both are written with a wonderful economy with words and a simplicity that I appreciated. I love the way the author sets up so many questions in the course of each story, making them thought-provoking and ensuring you don't stop thinking about the book when you put it down. I also love the cover, probably because Jiri isn't the only one with a thing about birds. I loved this book, and came away from it feeling a similar way to The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto, which I recently reviewed. I can't fully explain it but it made me smile.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: LE Olteano on June 19, 2011 :
Though it will be tough to achieve, I'll try my best to not fangirl all over the place about this marvelous work of art. Ok, so maybe I will fangirl all over the place, but if you've read "If you go into the woods" then you will completely understand why; and if you haven't read it yet, you're missing out on major art of the word, in my opinion.

The ebook consists of two beautiful short stories, "If you go into the woods" and "The reset button".
I cannot speak highly enough of the mastery of word in both of them, the wealth of vibrant images and the buzz of thought that they both possess came as a delightful surprise on a torrid summer day.
I've always been one for sort of classical, artistic writing, though the action-focused style has its merits no doubt, and its own place in my heart. But this work of art, this gem of words, has the style you've encountered in all-time masterpieces of literature. There is no doubt in my mind, we're dealing here with quite possibly one work heading that way. Poetry in prose-form, these short stories capture your imagination and mold your thoughts into a deep, and somewhat frazzling storm of wonder.

While short, but undoubtedly sweet, these stories manage to instill in you a deep sense of anxiousness, of momentary despair and ultimate thrill. Both their worlds are cleverly sketched and vibrantly depicted. It is the art of the short story to focus on this just one moment, on this just one day, to zoom in right into the core of the character's soul without losing anything of the natural pace of life and ephemerous of the moment. It is in my opinion a given that a short story will not offer an in-depth analysis of characters by length, but by great intensity focused in a short span of time. It's the acute sensation that takes lead, and not the vast cognitive line of knowledge.
If I were to pick a favorite between the two stories, I quite possibly may not be able to make a choice. Each deals with different instances of life in such a lovely way, that I couldn't pick a favorite; I'd favor them both :)
I am doing my best not to go into details about each, as I believe that would spoil the pleasure of your read guys, and I'd hate to be the author of such crime.

I heartily recommend this masterful piece of work to any and all that thoroughly enjoy the art of the word, and especially to those that have a special place in their hearts for short stories, as I believe this to be a fabulous exponent of the genre.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Tom Jones on May 13, 2011 :
Two interesting and well executed short stories. I enjoyed the style, especially where this relates to what wasn't included. By this I mean that in both cases the ending is nicely ambiguous with the author feeling no need to puncture the mystery with unnecessary over-explanation. The readers are left to form their own conclusions; and for me the stories are better for it.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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