Hunter Shea “Tortures of the Damned Review”

Posted: August 19, 2015 in Reviews
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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


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

First, the electricity goes—plunging the east coast in darkness after a devastating nuclear attack. Millions panic. Millions die. They are the lucky ones. 
Next, the chemical weapons take effect—killing or contaminating everything alive. Except a handful of survivors in a bomb shelter. They are the damned.
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 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


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

  1. hookofabook says:

    Thank you so much for your amazing review, so thorough and thoughtful. 🙂 What I ride huh!?

  2. Hunter Shea says:

    I’m so glad you liked the way I ended the world. 🙂 I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but the story, for now, is told. Now, what the future may bring…

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