Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

Hell Hole


Publisher: Samhain Horror

Length: 282 Pages

Copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Hell Hole is the story of former Rough Rider and current New York City Cop Nat Blackburn and his journey on a mission from his old war pal, President Theodore Roosevelt. The mission is seemingly simple: head to a little town called Hecla in Wyoming. Roosevelt tells Nat that the town was a huge source of copper and other minerals, causing it to explode in growth overnight. However, the copper veins eventually dried up and Hecla collapsed, despite rumors of gold being found in the mines. Not only did the town’s prosperity fall apart, but the residents of Hecla disappeared without a trace. Naturally, Nat thinks it is because of something easily explainable like Indians scaring off the settlers, who they see as intruders on their land. Roosevelt dashes that theory when he reports that he sent a troop to investigate and they reported that even the Indians were terrified of the desolate town. To make matters worse, shortly after their report, the squad disappeared without a trace. So, with that, Roosevelt enlists Nat to head to Hecla in order to find out what is going on and how to best extract the gold from the hills for a fledgling United States that desperately needs more wealth. When Nat and his longtime friend Teta arrive in Hecla, it becomes clear that their mission is anything but simple and there is something evil lurking in the abandoned mines of the town.

Shea blends all of the best action elements of the western genre with the sinister edge of horror to create a book that is an absolute blast to read and impossible to put down. What makes all of Hunter’s stories so enjoyable is that he does not waste any time bringing you right into the action, giving you a glimpse of the evil waiting deep within Hecla’s caves within the very first chapter. Even when we learn the backstories of the characters and the town, there is no lull in the intrigue that drives Hell Hole. By giving a lot of the background from Nat’s point of view, these little tidbits are every bit as interesting as the main plot.

The characters in Hell Hole are, simply put, awesome. Nat and Teta are two no-nonsense badasses that forged a life-long friendship during their time in war together fighting Spain. Their friendship feels very realistic and it is obvious that they would literally follow each other to hell and back. What makes them my favorite characters is that despite the adversity they face in Hecla, they not only don’t give up, they relish the challenge. There are moments where they are terrified by what they see happening around them, but instead of tucking their tails between their legs and heading home, they use the hardships they encounter as fuel in order to destroy the source of the evil in Hecla.

Not only were the action sequences  awesome and highly entertaining, but from a horror standpoint, Hell Hole is everything you could possibly want. I mean the story is jam-packed with a host of horrifying entities including extremely creepy children with black eyes, Bigfoot-esque creatures and others that I don’t want to spoil for those who have yet to read the novel. Hell Hole comes with my highest recommendation and is a great starting point for those interested in checking out Hunter’s work. This story begs to be up on the big screen, so if by some small chance any movie producers are out there reading this, give Hunter a call!

Rating: 5/5


Hunter Shea’s Official Website

Samhain Horror’s Official Website

Purchase Hell Hole on Amazon



montauk monster


Publisher: Kensington/Pinnacle

Length: 347 Pages

Copy provided for an honest review as part of The Montauk Monster blog tour

I have been fascinated with unexplained phenomena of all kinds for as long as I can remember. It started when I was younger, checking out as many books as I could from the library and continuing well into adulthood where I can honestly admit to spending countless hours trawling Wikipedia pages and falling down the rabbit hole of links contained within each article on things like UFO’s, hauntings, “The Bloop” and various cryptids. I honestly don’t know where this fascination came from, but I think these things continue to interest me because we currently live in an age where almost everything mysterious has been debunked and where is the fun in that? Sometimes it is good to suspend your disbelief for a while and hold onto whatever little mysteries are still left. That being said, when I first heard about Hunter Shea’s first thriller novel and that it would be based on the modern cryptid The Montauk Monster, I was instantly hooked and it made my list of most anticipated summer novels based on the strength of the synopsis alone. Now that I have had a chance to read The Montauk Monster, I can definitely say it has been worth the wait!

Shea wastes no time in grabbing the readers’ attention as we are introduced to the horrifying creatures right off the bat. Two Montauk residents head out to Shadmoor State Park to be alone and are confronted by a horrifying creature that quickly attacks them before they even know what is going on. Suffolk County Police Officer Gray Dalton gets a call from dispatch reporting bodies on the beach and when he arrives, he sees a scene of extreme carnage that defies explanation. The police force begin to suspect that the deaths were caused by some sort of animal, and this theory continues to become more plausible as the residents of Montauk begin calling in reports of mysterious animals hanging around their property and even trying to attack them. However, as Dalton begins his investigation and the sightings quickly grow more dangerous, it becomes apparent that this is not the work of an ordinary animal. This is confirmed when Dalton sees the creature with his own eyes after responding to one of the most vicious encounters yet and Montauk’s animal control officer, Anita Banks, is attacked by the creatures. What follows is a descent into chaos where the creatures grow bolder by the day and the town is plummeted into chaos and confusion. Soon, every federal agency imaginable is descending on Montauk in order to control the situation, but it may be too late.

The biggest strength of this novel, in my opinion, is Shea’s creation of the monsters. Their origins have some basis in the real world, but they pretty much stop with the creepy photo of the carcass that washed up on the shores of Montauk back in 2008. Shea uses these factual bits of evidence as a starting point and fleshes them out with a pretty creative and plausible back story to bring these terrifying creatures to life.

The creatures are described as having a large, muscular body similar to a dog or wolf, a face that is a cross between an eagle and a pig and retractable claws. While Shea’s portrayal of the creatures are frightening enough based on their physical description, the creatures themselves don’t hold a candle to the deadly virus they carry in their systems. I don’t want to spoil it for those who have not read the novel, but let me just say the descriptions of the virus’ effects are truly horrific and definitely not for the squeamish!

The Montauk Monster is a white-knuckled thrill ride of a novel and one of the year’s best summer reads. If you are a horror fan who has an interest in cryptids, you will definitely want to add this book to your collection!

Purchase The Montauk Monster on Amazon

Rating: 4/5

Be sure to check out the other stops on Hunter’s blog tour for some other reviews and cool features!

 Montauk Tour graphic

Montauk Monster Truth or Fiction:
Is the Montauk Monster made up for the book or an urban myth? Is there some truth that propels the story? You can find out more about the real Montauk Monster story here


Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea is the author of paranormal and horror novels Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal and Sinister Entity, which are all published by Samhain Horror. The June 3, 2014 release of his horrifying thriller Montauk Monster is published by Kensington/Pinnacle.

He has also written a short story to be read prior to Sinister Entity, called The Graveyard Speaks (it’s free, go download!), and a book of stories called Asylum Scrawls. His next book from Samhain Horror, titled Hell Hole, is set to come out in August 2014 and is his first western horror.

His work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales, and the upcoming 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 is also half of the two men show, Monster Men, which is a video podcast that takes a fun look at the world of horror. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at, on Twitter @HunterShea1, Facebook fan page at Hunter Shea or the Monster Men 13 channel on YouTube.



Publisher: Grey Matter Press

Length: 256 Pages

Submitted by the publisher for review

Dark Visions – Volume One is one of the first anthologies released by the stellar horror publishing company Grey Matter Press. A few weeks ago I posted a review of their latest, Ominous Realities, and mentioned that they are putting out some of the best anthologies around. After having just read Dark Visions – Volume One, I still stand by that statement. Edited by Anthony Rivera and Sharon Lawson and nominated for a 2013 Stoker Award, Dark Visions – Volume One contains thirteen horror short stories that immediately grab your attention and refuse to let go.

I am a huge fan of horror short stories because I love seeing an author build a complete world full of vibrant scenes and characters in such limited space. It builds tension and keeps you turning the pages until you reach the final conclusion, often leaving a sense of ambiguity that allows the story to linger long after it is finished. Dark Visions- Volume One delivers all of the best traits of the format and a diverse selection of authors to create a must-read collection.

Just like Ominous Realities, this collection features writers that I already enjoy and writers that I have not heard of before. There were a few stories from the writers I discovered in Dark Visions that really stuck with me in a profound way and I wish were novels instead of short stories (though that’s just me being greedy).

Jeff Hemenway’s story, “The Weight Of Paradise”, is an absolutely stunning story and ranks as one of my more recent favorites. The story focuses on Alfie, a man who was diagnosed with leukemia and near death before his scientist girlfriend Sophie discovers a cure. While the discovery helps cure him of his disease, it has horrible consequences for everyone involved.

I can’t speak for the author’s motivations for writing the story or his inspiration, but this story instantly made me think of a certain type of horror monster as soon as I read it. Alfie and his friends share some remarkable similarities to these monsters, but there is a fresh and horrifying twist that makes their origin unique (if I am right in my assumption). The story itself is well-written and engaging, but it is the ending’s emotional sucker-punch that really makes “The Weight of Paradise” shine.

“Second Opinion” by Ray Garton is probably the scariest story I have ever read involving writers since Joe Hill’s “Best New Horror”. Garton wastes no time in grabbing your attention by starting his story with a simple yet horrifying question – “Do you know what it’s like to cut up your best friend with a hacksaw?”. What follows is a haunting recollection by an author named Greg, where he explains just what drove him to murder his best friend. What really scared the hell out of me with this story was the fact that it was, for the most part, plausible. Garton throws in a dash of the supernatural, but most of the story is something that could realistically happen in real life. I always wanted to be a writer, but after reading Garton’s tale, the prospect scares the shit out of me!

Milo James Fowler’s “What Do You Need?” is the haunting story of a man named John who wakes up in a mysterious room devoid of any windows, doors or other means of escape. There is little in the room except basic necessities, an ominous television broadcasting nothing but static and a telephone. The telephone does not seem to work in any capacity until finally a voice asks, “What do you need?” There is no other communication from the person on the other line, despite John’s multiple requests for answers, just the same phrase every single time he picks up the phone.

I loved “What Do You Need?” for its psychological elements. I couldn’t even begin to imagine being trapped in an inescapable situation, and Fowler does an excellent job putting the reader into John’s shoes and conveying the desperation someone would feel in that situation. Another reason I probably connected so much with this story is it had the atmosphere of a classic “Twilight Zone” episode and that is one of my favorite TV shows of all time.

Brian Fatah Steele’s “Delicate Spaces” focuses on a small group of paranormal researchers who are drawn to the Rayburn Hotel in order to investigate the numerous reports of unexplained phenomena that occur there. Most of the incidents seem to occur in the back hallway of the hotel where two mysterious items are stored. The items in question are a decorative mirror and a tapestry with an abstract design that hangs on the wall directly opposite the mirror. Most of the sightings that originate from the Rayburn Hotel occur when visitors look at the tapestry in the reflection of the mirror, causing them to see things that are not really there. Many of the sightings are seemingly harmless, until a woman says she sees an army in the tapestry and flees the hotel.

After not experiencing any of the alleged activity during their stay, one of the researchers decides to conduct a last-ditch experiment in the hallway with low-frequency generators. This experiment leads to the shocking revelation of what exactly is occurring at the Rayburn Hotel and it is definitely something you will not see coming. I don’t usually get scared that easily, but after reading “Delicate Spaces”, it is only a matter of time before the events of the story wind up in my nightmares!

I also loved “Mister Pockets” by Jonathan Maberry and “Show Me” by John F.D. Taff. These stories were the ones I was looking forward to reading the most when I first received Dark Visions and they were every bit as good as I hoped. This is an absolute “must read” anthology chock full of scary tales and you are guaranteed to find at least one new author you will love!

Rating: 5/5

Grey Matter Press’ Official Website

List of authors and stories featured in Dark Visions – Volume One

Purchase Dark Visions – Volume One on Amazon



Publisher: Books of the Dead Press

Length: 266 Pages

I discovered John F.D. Taff’s newest novel The Bell Witch completely by chance while browsing Amazon’s bestseller list for horror. People always say you should never judge a book by its cover, but the sinister looking cover (which I later found out was designed by one of my favorite authors Kealan Patrick Burke) is what immediately grabbed my attention. Intrigued, I decided to check out the synopsis and once I learned it was based on The Bell Witch Haunting, that was all it took to have me hooked.

John F.D. Taff’s novel focuses on the Bells, an early 19th century farm family from Tennessee who are haunted by an entity known only as the “Witch”. The entities arrival at the Bell homestead causes the Bells to fall into chaos as they are plagued by odd sounds, occasional bouts of violence and unrelenting taunts. The hauntings are limited to the home at first and the Bells think that if they just ignore the disturbances, The Witch will go away. The domineering patriarch of the Bell family, Jack Bell, refuses to allow his slaves into the house and places a ban on speaking about the disturbances to prevent others in the town from finding about the entity. However, the Witch foils these plans by making an appearance at the local church and announcing its presence to the entire town when it interrupts the church service.

While the Witch torments all of the members of the Bell family and other people who cross its path, it focuses much of its energy and hatred toward Jack. It frequently tells him and his family that its main purpose for existing is to make Jack suffer and that before it leaves it will kill him. The reason its anger falls mostly upon Jack is one of the novel’s central mysteries and is directly related to what The Witch is and why it has decided to  torment the Bell family.

As a former history major, huge fan of documented hauntings and all things paranormal, I absolutely loved The Bell Witch. Many familiar with the Bell Witch Haunting will take issue with the artistic liberties Taff has taken with the legend and feel disappointed it doesn’t strictly adhere to the events reported to have occurred. However, I applaud Taff for making the history of the Bell Witch his own because it adheres to the spirit of the legend. The two definitive texts on the legend were published 60 and 75 years after the alleged events. Who is to say those writers did not take liberties of their own? Besides, Taff’s liberties with the Bell Witch story make for a truly unique origin story for the Bell Witch.

It is also important to note that The Bell Witch is not an all out fright-fest, so if that is what you are looking for, you may be disappointed with The Bell Witch. However, if you can appreciate an atmospheric ghost story that leans more towards “quiet horror” territory, you will fall in love with this novel. That isn’t to say the book doesn’t have its truly frightening moments, though. There is a pretty creepy possession scene that horror fans will love and Taff does an incredible job of adding quick shots of terror through the Witch’s actions. The action occasionally lags, but overall The Bell Witch is an outstanding take on a uniquely American ghost story that I would highly recommend.

Taff recently announced a new novella collection for Grey Matter Press titled The End in All Beginnings and two rewritten novels titled The Exterminator and The Orpheus Box for Books of the Dead Press and to say these are highly anticipated would be an understatement.

Rating: 4/5


John F.D. Taff’s Official Website

Books of the Dead Press

Purchase The Bell Witch on Amazon


Welcome to The Horror Bookshelf! This is a project I am extremely happy to announce as it has been something I have been wanting to do for a long time now and I have finally taken the plunge! I have always been a huge fan of horror novels and this blog is my way of giving back to the extremely talented writers who have created the books I enjoy reading and connecting with other horror fans.

I encourage you to check out the “About” page to learn a little more about what The Horror Bookshelf is all about and feel free to contact me on Twitter at .

The firsts two reviews I have planned are for Adam M. Booth’s zombie short story The End and Ania Ahlborn’s bleak new offering The Bird Eater. I hope you enjoy the blog!