Hunter Shea “They Rise” Review

Posted: January 15, 2016 in Reviews, Uncategorized
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they rise


Length: 162 Pages

Publisher: Severed Press

Release Date: January 4, 2016

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the They Rise Blog Tour

I have always had a love/hate relationship with the ocean. Growing up, I loved going to the beach and one of my favorite places to visit or go to on field trips was the aquarium. I was always fascinated by the wildlife that lived in the water and for a majority of my life, I dreamed of growing up and becoming a marine biologist. As I got older that dream was still there and I began taking deep-sea fishing trips, which were always a thrill to me. Despite all of those positive memories and dreams of working in the ocean with the various animals that call the water home, I harbored a bit of a fear of the ocean. I don’t know if it was from watching Jaws or just one too many viewings of Shark Week, but I was convinced that it was only a matter of time until a shark attacked me. Even into my late teens  – the last time I really went into the ocean – I could be swimming or having a blast on a boogie board, but if a strand of seaweed brushed against my leg, I would tear ass out of the waves as fast as my legs would carry me. In retrospect, that was probably the worst thing I could have done if I was trying to avoid becoming some shark’s lunch. I always went back in the water after realizing none of the other swimmers were being ripped to shreds, but that fear was still there. Reading Hunter Shea’s They Rise brought those fears rushing back and also made me realize that maybe I had more to fear than just man-eating sharks.

They Rise opens with a scene of some older men out for an early morning fishing trip on the Atlantic Ocean. Just when it seems they won’t have any luck, one of the men hooks something huge on his line. What he reels in amazes his friends and the deckhand that assists them in landing the fish. As they stare in amazement at the alien looking fish, it begins to thrash and ends up stinging the deckhand, drenching his arm in blood. Their curiosity is shattered by the brutal attack and what they witness is something ripped straight from their nightmares.

Marine biologist Brad Whitley has studied chimaera fish for his entire life and is considered one of the foremost experts on the fish. So after the horrific attack on the fishing boat leaves a deckhand dead and one of the fish is captured, he is called in to examine the specimen and figure out what could have caused the attack. What Whit sees takes his breath away. The fish is identical to the ones he is used to studying, but is easily two feet bigger than the largest one ever recorded. Not to mention, the fish should not have appeared in this part of the Atlantic Ocean. They have a spine in front of their dorsal fin that unleashes a vicious toxin, but based on the grisly reports from the fishing boat, it is faster acting than anything Whit has seen before.

While Whit is on land looking for answers, his ex-wife Suzanne Merriweather is aboard the Porpoise IV studying clues about the cause behind rising global temperatures. Currently, her and her team are in the Atlantic investigating methane gas being released from vents in the ocean floor, something that could cause more damage than man-made pollution. Suzanne and her team get readouts showing a massive methane vent which is located smack dab in the region of the infamous Bermuda Triangle. Some of the methane being released is frozen from the prehistoric era, bubbling to the surface due to disturbances on the ocean floor. The crew of the Porpoise IV come face to face with these prehistoric horrors when the come to the rescue of a fishing trawler that was attacked by a swarm of chimaera fish. They witness the remnants of the carnage on the boat and once Suzanne lays eyes on the strange fish she knows she needs to reach out to her estranged ex.

Whit gets the texts from Suzanne and finds that his specimen is not the only one. These massive chimaeras are loose in the ocean and leaving a path of destruction and bloodshed in their wake. To make matters worse, the pictures Suzanne sends him shows these things are even bigger than the one he is studying, some rivaling the size of Great Whites. When the Porpoise IV heads out to study a large methane vent, they notice swarms of chimaeras pouring from the vent and realize they have a serious problem on their hands. Whit rents a fishing boat to head out and meet Suzanne and receives a distress call about the fish attacking the Porpoise IV. Facing death and destruction at every turn, the group must find a way to stop the chimaera fish once and for all or the entire world will be placed into chaos and the oceans will run red with blood.

While They Rise does take some liberties with the chimaera fish, part of what made this is a novel such a great read was that is grounded in reality. Shea takes a real-life fish and mixes in climate concerns to craft an original sea monster novella that feels like it could – with a little imagination –  actually happen. While we think of the ocean as something mundane, the fact remains that is as mysterious as any other possible location. Despite all of the advances in modern technology, less than five percent of the ocean has been explored. Who says there can’t be giant, blood-thirsty chimaera fish lurking in the deep, dark depths of the ocean?

I loved that a majority of the story takes place out on the open water. I feel like the ocean is a perfect setting for horror novels due to the sense of isolation it provides. Think about it. Even if you are facing unimaginable horrors, if you’re on land, you have a variety of escape options and tools at your disposal. They may not work, but you at least have some choices. Out on the ocean, there is nowhere to hide. Sure, you could be on the relative safety of a boat, but what happens if the boat is damaged or sinks? There is nowhere to hide and once you hit the water, you are in the domain of the monstrous creatures stalking you. There is no way to improvise weapons except for utilizing what little gear you thought to pack on the ship and there is no easy way to call in reinforcements.

Shea does an excellent job with portraying the attacks throughout the course of They Rise. The fish are introduced through a series of scenes where people on the ocean who are fishing and unaware of the recent release of these deadly monsters are suddenly thrust into a bloody and violent situation. These fish are ruthless and are able to destroy smaller ships with ease and are driven by their desire to feed.

The chimaera fish are terrifying despite not having razor-sharp teeth or appendages. They have tooth plates that are supposed to be used to crush shellfish, but when Shea grows them to unimaginable lengths, they are powerful enough to snap bones like toothpicks and flatten people like pancakes. Then there is its poisonous fin that injects a lethal poison that causes people to die in seconds in a truly gruesome fashion that is not for the squeamish. They are also tenacious hunters, once they have their sights locked on a boat and begin their attack, it isn’t enough to just hightail it the hell out of there. When the Porpoise IV was attacked, Suzanne later tells Whit that the fish pursued them for miles.

Hunter does a great job with his major characters, particularly Whit and Nestor Garza. Whit comes across as a bit arrogant at times, but he makes for an interesting main character. Although his expertise is the chimaera fish that are currently wreaking havoc in the ocean, he is a true leader who thinks outside the box in order to try to save everyone from the fish. We learn early on in They Rise that Whit has a drinking problem, though it is not clear if it was a result of a divorce from his wife Suzanne or something that has always been a part of his life. Nestor Garza is Whit’s right hand man on this study and they form a close bond in the short time they are together. He’s a retiree who helps out at the Seaquarium who helps out however he can. He mostly does it for the discounts he gets his family for the aquarium and to make his grandkids think he is a hero. Despite being a seemingly average guy, Nestor exudes a confidence that makes him likable. He has a connection for seemingly every situation and shows a surprising amount of courage in a truly horrific scenario that would leave most regular people frozen with fear. While Hunter does a great job with his main cast, some of the more minor characters tend to blend together.

Even with a few minor missteps, Shea’s They Rise is a white-knuckled thrill ride that is sure to delight horror fans looking for an entertaining and bloody sea monster story. One of Shea’s many strengths is the pacing of his novels and his talent for telling a great story. There are hardly any lulls in the action and once Hunter pulls you in, you are mesmerized by the world he has created. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but I loved the nod to his previous novel The Montauk Monster with the mentions of Plum Island research center. Anyone who has read any of Hunter’s previous books or has seen an episode of Monster Men knows he is one of the biggest horror fans around and his love and appreciation for horror always shines through in his writing. That passion is evident in the old school monster movie feel of They Rise and the adrenaline-pumping finale that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. They Rise is an absolute blast to read and an essential addition to the reading list of everyone who is fascinated and/or frightened by the possibility of what lurks in the dark, briny depths of the ocean!

2015 was a great year for Hunter Shea fans as he released three incredibly entertaining novels and it doesn’t appear he has any plans of slowing down in 2016. They Rise was the first of Hunter’s three planned releases for the year and is set to be followed by a new Samhain novella I Kill in Peace and the Pinnacle novel The Jersey Devil, which focuses on one of my all-time favorite cryptids. Needless to say, I will be devouring these books as soon as I get my hands on them!

Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of this post for a chance at an awesome prize: a $50 Amazon Gift Card! All the details on how to enter and gain extra entries are listed in the “Giveaway” section of the review. Good luck!

Rating: 4/5 


Hunter Shea Official Website

Severed Press Official Website

Purchase They Rise: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookstore!

They Rise tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about They Rise! – #TheyRise  #HunterShea #HorroroftheSea #HookofaBook #SeaMonsters

They Rise Synopsis

Some call them ghost sharks, the oldest and strangest looking creatures in the sea. Marine biologist Brad Whitley has studied chimaera fish all his life. He thought he knew everything about them. He was wrong.

Warming ocean temperatures free legions of prehistoric chimaera fish from their methane ice suspended animation. Now, in a corner of the Bermuda Triangle, the ocean waters run red.

The 400 million year old massive killing machines know no mercy, destroying everything in their path. It will take Whitley, his climatologist ex-wife and the entire US Navy to stop them in the bloodiest battle ever seen on the high seas.

Praise for Hunter Shea

Praise for Hunter Shea

This wholly enthralling hulk of a summer beach read is redolent of sunscreen and nostalgia, recalling mass market horror tales of yore by John Saul, Dean Koontz, and Peter Benchley.” — Publishers Weekly — Voted one of the best reads of summer, on The Montauk Monster

“Bloody good read!  This guy knows his monsters!”- Eric S Brown, author of Bigfoot War and Boggy Creek: The Legend is True, on Swamp Monster Massacre

“Hunter Shea is a great writer, highly entertaining, and definitely in the upper echelon in the current horror scene. Many other writers mention either loving his work and/or having the man influence their own, and for just cause. His writing suits anyone with a taste for the dark and terrifying!” –Zakk at The Eyes of Madness/The Mouth of Madness Podcast

About Hunter Shea 


Hunter Shea is the product of a childhood weaned on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself.

Publishers Weekly named The Montauk Monster one of the best reads of the summer in 2014, and his follow up novel, Hell Hole, was named best horror novel of the year on several prestigious horror sites. Cemetery Dance had this to say about his apocalyptic thriller, Tortures of the Damned – “A terrifying read that left me wanting more. I absolutely devoured this book!”

Hunter is an amateur cryptozoologist, having written wild, fictional tales about Bigfoot, The Montauk Monster, The Dover Demon and many new creatures to come. Copies of his books, The Montauk Monster and The Dover Demon, are currently on display in the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, ME.

He wrote his first novel with the express desire to work only with editor Don D’Auria at Dorchester (Leisure Horror). He submitted his novel to Don and only Don, unagented, placed on the slush pile. He is proof that dedicated writers can be rescued from no man’s land. He now works with Don, along with several other agents and publishers, having published over ten books in just four years.

Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light-hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, crytid and ghost hunters, directors and anyone else living in the horror lane.

Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to get Gray’s Papaya hot dogs when the craving hits. His daughters have also gotten the horror bug, assisting him with research, story ideas and illustrations that can be seen in magazines such as Dark Dossier.

You can follow his travails at, sign-up for his newsletter, or follow in on Facebook and Twitter.


Enter to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card for joining this tour! Get extra entries for social media follows, but get extra extra entries for signing up for his newsletter and five extra entries if you review They Rise and send the link to Erin at!

Good luck!



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