Archive for August, 2015

behindthedarkness

BOOK INFO

Length: 212 Pages

Publisher: Severed Press

Release Date: January 25, 2015

Review copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

The first time I head about Robert E. Dunn’s Behind The Darkness was on Hunter Shea’s blog where he talked about the book and featured an interview with the author. Reading that interview and the ideas behind the novel, I was hooked and had to get my hands on this book.

I have always been fascinated with the idea of aliens and UFOs. I can remember as far back as early elementary school shortly after graduating from your standard young reader books checking out every book I could on aliens and UFOs. Books about Roswell, the Hill abduction case you name it. I remember checking out all of these books and reading them, but for the life of me, I can’t remember where that fascination came from. Oddly enough, as intrigued as I was by all of these accounts and experiences and wanting to believe that they were somehow real, the idea also terrified me. For every harmless story about spotting strange lights in the sky or seeing aliens from afar, there are some truly horrifying accounts out there. Abductions where people are ripped from their home or cars and experimented on, cattle mutilations, etc. It doesn’t really matter whether you believe in these or not, any way you slice it – real life occurrence or fiction – there is something downright scary at the thought of being captured by otherworldly beings with no way to defend yourself.

Well, it seems Dunn has found his way into my nightmares with Behind The Darkness. Readers are first introduced to Max Callahan, a man who is on a romantic hike with his wife Sheila. Things start of playful as they race each other to the summit with Max winning handily. However, what he sees at the top of that ridge takes a terrifying turn. At first, he is intrigued and calls for his wife to hurry and join him. As he continues to watch, he realizes something is terribly wrong and begs her to flee. Without a chance to save her, he is taken by the mysterious craft and subjected to horrific experiments and unthinkable violence by his captors.

Then we are introduced to the Duncan’s. Ashley Duncan and her husband Tyler own their own farm and have a baby on the way. Although they are excited about having their own farm and growing their family, they sense something sinister surrounding their home. Tyler has been discovering the mutilated corpses of his cows in the fields and Ashley first experiences the aliens when they hypnotize and terrorize her. Ashley’s brother Vic and her longtime friend Leslie are coming for the weekend to help the Duncan’s on the farm and reconnect with each other. As everyone gathers at the house and Max is introduced to the group, the aliens converge on the Duncan ranch to reclaim their captive and attempt to take Tyler’s baby and wife. What follows is a violent battle for survival that will change everyone forever.

The small town setting for this story may be a bit expected, but it works remarkably well in this case. It is your typical country town with the largest thing being a fast food chain and cell phone reception is spotty at best. This allows the aliens to make their presence known with little fear of discovery. Bill Tatum, who owns the feed store, is the only character who takes Tyler’s plight seriously and suspects the truth behind what is going on. Everyone else in town knows about the cattle mutilations that take place, but fear acknowledging what could really be happening due to how the news would portray them or how it would impact their property values. Even if the townspeople believed aliens were responsible, their seclusion from major city centers make it next to impossible to defend themselves.

The only real weakness to this story would be the characterization at times. In the beginning of the book, the cast of characters seem fairly one dimensional. We are given enough information to be able to differentiate between them, but there is little that makes the reader forge a connection to them. However, Dunn fixes that in the later portion of the book. As the characters are surrounded by pure evil ripped straight from their nightmares, that is when we begin to see who they truly are and they become more well developed. The biggest transformation would have to be Tyler. I don’t want to spoil what happens to him or what he does, but he undergoes a dramatic change from the character we are first introduced to. Even as Tyler begins to develop a darker side, you still root for him to come out on top as he takes a stand to protect his friends and family against impossible odds.

As a fan of alien accounts and non-fiction books, this is the sort of alien/UFO novel I have been waiting for. I have read a ton of books on the topic from both horror and science fiction and most of them just seem to be missing something. While I appreciate the attempt at creating an original alien race and trying to create something fresh, I have always wanted to see a straightforward, terrifying alien horror novel that draws heavily on the Greys. Dunn draws from this traditional portrayal heavily, but sprinkles in enough originality to make them seem frightening and far from just a rip-off.  They utilize some of the same psychological tactics to confuse and disable their victims but they are also physical and capable of extreme violence. They also have the ability to camouflage themselves with their surroundings.

The novel is packed with action and once the group huddled in Duncan ranch begin to face off against the creatures, I could hardly set the novel down. This one is packed with action and is downright scary and should definitely be added to the collection of anyone with an interest in aliens or UFOs. I live in a pretty rural area and after reading this book, I have to admit I was pretty creeped out when I had to step outside during the middle of the night. Highly recommended!

Rating: 4/5

Robert E. Dunn Official Website

Severed Press Official Website

Purchase Behind The Darkness on Amazon

TOTD

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Kensington/Pinnacle

Length: 352 Pages

Release Date: July 28, 2015

Review copy provided as part of the Tortures of the Damned blog tour

It is no secret to those of you who have been following the blog since the beginning that I am a huge fan of Hunter Shea’s work. I first got into his work through The Montauk Monster which was a hell of a read and worked my way through his catalog from there. One thing I have discovered through reading all of Hunter’s works is that he is a truly gifted storyteller. His novels are always action packed and you can tell they are written by someone with a great love and appreciation of the genre. Hunter has already released one fantastic novel this year, Island of the Forbidden, so I was eagerly awaiting the release of this one. Hunter has tackled a variety of cryptids and ghosts in his past work, so when I heard he was writing an apocalyptic novel, it quickly shot to the top of the list of my most anticipated horror novels of the year.

Hunter Shea’s Tortures of the Damned focuses on the Padilla family and their neighbors Buck and Alexiana DeCarlo following a stunning attack on Yonkers. Explosions and fires rip through the city and an EMP blast fries all the electronics in the area plunging the city into chaos. Daniel Padilla is trapped in the city desperately trying to make it home to his wife and four kids when the events start to take place and witnesses the pandemonium first hand. People are running through the streets, trampling each other with no regard for anyone’s safety but their own. At a nearby racetrack where the oldest Padilla sibling – Rey – works, animals go insane as a strange noxious smoke slowly creeps throughout the grounds that points to a possible chemical attack. The smoke seems to whip the race horses into a frenzy and they go from being relatively docile creatures to bloodthirsty war machines that rip everything in their paths to shreds. Rey rescues his crush Dakota from the carnage at the racetrack and they battle their way through the rapidly spreading smoke to arrive at the Padilla household.

Once everyone makes it back to the house, their neighbor Buck Clark leads them to safety. Buck is a bit of a survivalist who built and stocked an emergency bomb shelter below his home for himself, his girlfriend Alexiana, and the Padilla family following the first terrorist attacks in New York City. The shelter has all the supplies they could ever need – jugs of water, canned goods and weapons. Though they are comfortable down there for a long period of time, they begin to grow restless when days go by without any information that may tell them if it is safe to go out or not. Buck and Daniel finally make the difficult choice to leave the shelter in search of medicine for Rey and Dakota, who are severely ill due to their exposure to the chemical clouds that surrounded them at the racetrack.

While Buck and Dan are exploring what is left of the neighborhood, rats begin pouring out of the sewers to attack them and chase them back to the shelter. The rats try to break down doors even if it means their death and this forces the group out of the safety of their shelter. Forced to abandon almost all of their supplies and with nowhere to go, the group decides to scour the city in search of help and possibly answers. Along the way they must fight a gauntlet of crazed animals and vicious survivors that will test the limits of what they can endure.

Tortures of the Damned is a great read if you are a horror fan and looking for something a bit different in your apocalyptic fiction. I am used to zombies, vampires or some other mythical creature causing the downfall of mankind and hunting the survivors that are left, but Hunter offers up some unique adversaries for the Padilla’s and their friends to face. The group goes head to head with bloodthirsty race horses that tear people to shreds, hawks that are not afraid to carry people off into the sky and a host of other creatures. Even lovable family pets that are normally seen as cute and harmless morph into feral killers and the savagery they display is unreal!

I also loved the isolated feel Hunter was able to cultivate throughout the course of the novel. Although Yonkers was once a thriving urban area, the group is shocked to find everything is like a ghost town when they emerge from their bunker. The survivors are few and far between and there is just a sense of despair that hangs over the landscape. This shift in the portrayal of the city and the approach of having the animals be a large threat were awesome. Granted the time frame is not nearly long enough, but the way the setting was described made me think of a hardcore horror version of that National Geographic special “Life After People”.

The characters of the book were well done as well. I like that Hunter chose to keep the focus fairly small. While there is a host of minor characters that pop up throughout the course of the novel, most of the focus stays on the Padilla’s and their neighbors. A lot of times an apocalyptic novel can lose its emotional impact by introducing too many characters that prevent the reader from establishing a connection with them, but that doesn’t happen here. The group of the Padilla’s, Buck, Alexiana and Dakota start off innocent but throughout the course of the novel we see them start to lose that innocence and revert to a more primitive mindset hell-bent on survival even if it costs them their lives. Even as they develop rougher personalities, you still can’t help but root for them to survive.

All of the characters bring something to the group and it is hard to choose a favorite, but if there was a character that surprised me the most, it would have to be Max. At the time of the apocalypse, 14-year-old Max is at a critical point in his young life. He is beginning to enter a rebellious phase and you would think the devastation would get the best of him, but he is remarkably well suited for this new world and shows very little fear. He is constantly coming to the rescue of the adults in the group and seems to thrive off the adrenaline he gets from fighting back against the animals.

The pacing and structure of the novel are absolutely perfect in my opinion. I tore through this novel in about two sittings because Hunter utilizes short, punchy chapters that grabbed my attention.  I frequently found myself saying “Okay, I think I can squeeze in another chapter…” and having that turn into about 20. I also liked that the cause of the apocalypse is left ambiguous, with he reader gleaning bits and pieces of information through the eyes of the scarce other survivors and their assumptions.

I will warn you that this book is pretty bleak. There were quite a few moments where I was really pulling for this group of survivors and breathing a sigh of relief when they had small triumphs, only to get sucker punched right in the gut not long after. The group goes through some pretty heavy situations that will have you on the edge of your seat, but that is what helps make Tortures of the Damned such a great read.

Tortures of the Damned definitely stands out as one of the best novels I have read this year and one I would definitely recommend to anyone who has an interest in horror and apocalyptic stories. It is out now through Kensington/Pinnacle, so be sure to grab a copy from any of the links provided below or your local bookstore. Oh and if you happen to be reading this Hunter, PLEASE tell me there are more stories to tell in the Tortures of the Damned universe!

Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post for a chance to win a signed copy of a Hunter Shea book of your choice (or e-book) and a bookmark, courtesy of Hunter Shea and Hook of a Book Media & Publicity!

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

Hunter Shea’s Official Website

Kensington/Pinnacle Official Website

Purchase Tortures of the Damned: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookstore!

Tortures of the Damned tour logo

Hunter Shea is back again with a Pinnacle/Kensington paperback following his smash hit of The Montauk Monster last summer. This time the world could be ending!

Follow along using the hashtags: #TorturesoftheDamned #Apocalypse #RunforYourLife

Tortures of the Damned Info and Synopsis

Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: Pinnacle (July 28, 2015)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0786034777

ISBN-13: 978-0786034772

SHOCK…
First, the electricity goes—plunging the east coast in darkness after a devastating nuclear attack. Millions panic. Millions die. They are the lucky ones. 
 
AFTER SHOCK…
Next, the chemical weapons take effect—killing or contaminating everything alive. Except a handful of survivors in a bomb shelter. They are the damned.
 
HELL IS FOR HUMANS
Then, the real nightmare begins. Hordes of rats force two terrified families out of their shelter—and into the savage streets of an apocalytic wasteland. They are not alone. Vicious, chemical-crazed animals hunt in packs. Dogs tear flesh, cats draw blood, horses crush bone. Roaming gangs of the sick and dying are barely recognizable as human. These are the times that try men’s souls. These are the tortures that tear families apart. This is hell on earth. The rules are simple: Kill or die.

Praise for Hunter Shea

“A lot of splattery fun.Publishers Weekly

 
 “Harrowing, bloodsoaked.” —Jonathan Janz, Author of The Nightmare Girl
 
“Frightening, gripping.”—Night Owl Reviews

“Old school horror.” —Jonathan Maberry,  New York Times bestselling author

About Hunter Shea

hunter-shea-photo

Hunter Shea is the author of the novels The Montauk Monster, Sinister Entity, Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, and Evil Eternal. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales and the Cemetery Dance anthology,  Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror.

His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on. He lives in New York with his family and vindictive cat. He waits with Biblical patience for the Mets to win a World Series. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com.

Giveaway!

One signed book from Hunter Shea of winner’s choice (or e-book) and a bookmark

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjIw/?