The name Hunter Shea has long been one haunting my TBR pile, but until this read, had remained an author who never quite hit the top of that pile. This is despite his name seeming to feature prominently on a good many people's list of horror authors to watch.
So with the release of Tortures of the Damned tomorrow, and with Netgalley having it up for review, the I figured it was time to give the man a shot.
And, well, the results were mixed.
Telling the story of a group of people struggling to survive when some kind of attack strikes Yonkers, New York, Tortures of the Damned sets itself apart from most apocalyptic fiction of this type by having the protagonists all know one another, since they are comprised of two neighbouring families.
Surviving the initial attack thanks to the foresight of one of the characters who built a fallout shelter below his house following the events of 9/11, the families are forced to move on by the worsening illness of two of their number. Having been completely isolated in the bunker, the families emerge to a nasty new world where animals attack any human they see and the vast majority of the population have already succumbed to some form of strange illness. How they try to survive forms the bulk of the story as the characters attempt to determine what to do and where to go ...
Look, as far as apocalyptic novels go, this one is fairly standard. Other than the fact that almost all of the characters are related to or very close to one another, there's little of significant difference here to note. Shea rapidly switches between the POVs of every character in the group (including the young children), so the reader gets to better understand them all as they strike out for survival. So while the characterisation is well-handled, the threats they face are exactly what you would expect. The only surprise for me was how non-paranormal the threats were - which, given the title of the novel, I thought were a sure thing.
So, yes, the group come across the "bad" people who are thriving in this type of environment, and its these people who again end up being a bigger threat than the animal attacks which periodically occur. As far as plot devices go, I'm starting to find this one a little tiresome, but perhaps that's just me.
The novel is also quite long, and at times I found my interest flagging. The ending however is in keeping with the tone of the novel, and I'm pleased to acknowledge Shea does not shy away from doing what he had clearly set up to do...
One major gripe is the eARC I received from Netgalley was formatted extremely poorly. So much so that most of the chapter numbers were missing, which meant POV switches would happen and I'd be a paragraph and half on to the next character before even realising it wasn't the one I was reading about before. At other times, paragraphs stopped mid-sentence and began indented the next line down, making it difficult at times to follow
All in all, this was a decent, if uninspiring apocalyptic novel, that did enough for me to continue reading the other Shea titles I have on my Kindle... Eventually.
3 Suicidal Charging Horses for Tortures of the Damned.
The preceding was based on an eARC received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.