Reading it myself, I found it worthy of this praise. Wise quickly sets up a believable cast of characters we care about and a supernatural premise that deserves a novel length treatment.
As a horror anthology editor, I have had the pleasure to work with Wise. As I have stated before, he is a true fabulist in the tradition of Richard Matheson or Harlan Ellison. In his stories, startling fantasy characters co-exist with humans in an often cold dark reality of the world he creates.
Spiritwood continues these trends, in a logical progression from the short story format to first novel. While Wise has created something all his own here, this novel brought to mind Stephen King in the way Wise sets up a cast of characters and then once the action gets going, he cross-cuts among all of them at a swift pace. Though Spiritwood has a great plot, it was all about characters first, another echo of King and Matheson.
Thanks for chatting with me here and good luck with this excellent first novel.