Once upon a time ago, I used to write reviews for an awesome website called Horror Novel Reviews. Sadly, I lost the time to continue to write for them. I miss it a lot. Great website and great people running it. It was there I actually came across talented horror author Hunter Shea. I read his novella Swamp Monster Massacre and instantly became a fan. I think I’ve read all but one of his books.
Next week, Hunter’s new novel The Jersey Devil drops from Pinnacle. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC. There might be an author interview with him in the near future, but in the meantime, enjoy my non-spoilery review!
I had high expectations going into this book. For one, it’s Hunter Shea, one of the best horror writers currently working in the genre, one who always brings his “A” game. Two, it’s The Jersey Devil! Born and raised in Dirty Jersey, I’ve heard just about every JD tale out there, and I’ve watched pretty much every crappy movie made on the subject. My big question going in was “how the heck is Shea going to do something different on this dirt-old legend?” Familiar with the author’s work, I trusted him to cook up something fresh. High expectations usually lead to disappointment, but Hunter Shea’s new monster masterpiece was anything but.
If you’re expecting a quiet, backwoodsy horror novel, something in the same vein as The Witch or Blair Witch Project, you’re in for a surprise. And a good one at that. The Jersey Devil starts out strong, introducing us to a family of characters, all of whom bear the cloven mark of the devil. They don’t know why they’ve been branded, but with the help of a local cryptozoologist, they intend to find out. So the group travels to the Pine Barrens with guns–lots and lots of guns–with hopes to hunt the damned thing down, only they discover not just one Jersey Devil, but multiple Devils. From there, it’s a guns-a-blazing bloodfest full of violence, mayhem, gory details, and the most vile creature the Garden State has to offer. And no, I’m not talking about Chris Christie!
Although horror, The Jersey Devil draws a lot of parallels to the western genre in terms of themes, which I thought was an excellent choice on the author’s part. It had this Magnificent Seven vibe to it.
There’s a lot to love about this book. The main characters were well developed and given clear arcs. The pacing was fast, every chapter ending with that one line that made me scream, “damn you, Hunter, well I can’t stop now!” I enjoyed the story and appreciated a new take on the Devil and Momma Leeds’ story, rather than sticking with the same old regurgitated Hollywood crapola. Hunter Shea took a big swing on this one and knocked it past the parking lot.
The only thing I wished Shea would have done was dedicate more pages to the family and the cryptozoologist, giving them more depth, rather than spend time with ancillary characters that end up becoming Devil fodder.
If you’re familiar with Shea’s books, you won’t be disappointed with his new horror novel. If this is your first trek into his dark lair of monster mayhem, expect a kick-ass creature feature that doesn’t take itself too seriously, well-written prose, and endless buckets of blood splatter. Fans of the midnight movie sub-genre rejoice – Hunter Shea has brought you another monster masterpiece!
***I received an ARC of this book and this is my unbiased review***