Today I bring you a novella for those who like to be scared and don’t mind creepy-crawlies.
Broken Shells: A Subterranean Horror Novella by Michael Patrick Hicks
Antoine DeWitt is a man down on his luck. Broke and recently fired, he knows the winning Money Carlo ticket that has landed in his mailbox from a car dealership is nothing more than a scam. The promise of five thousand dollars, though, is too tantalizing to ignore.
Jon Dangle is a keeper of secrets, many of which are buried deep beneath his dealership. He works hard to keep them hidden, but occasionally sacrifices are required, sacrifices who are penniless, desperate, and who will not be missed. Sacrifices exactly like DeWitt.
When Antoine steps foot on Dangle’s car lot, it is with the hope of easy money. Instead, he finds himself trapped in a deep, dark hole, buried alive. If he is going to survive the nightmare ahead of him, if he has any chance of seeing his wife and child again, Antoine will have to do more than merely hope. He will have to fight his way back to the surface, and pray that Jon Dangle’s secrets do not kill him first.
About the author:
MICHAEL PATRICK HICKS is the author of a number of speculative fiction titles. His debut novel, Convergence, was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist. His most recent work is the horror novel, Mass Hysteria.
He has written for the Audiobook Reviewer and Graphic Novel Reporter websites, in addition to working as a freelance journalist and news photographer.
In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.
To stay up to date on his latest releases, join his newsletter, memFeed: http://bit.ly/1H8slIg
I obtained a copy of this novella through a giveaway and I freely chose to review it.
Despite my fondness for the horror genre, I review other types of novels more, like thrillers (on occasions there can be a certain crossover between the two), but I hope to remedy this in the future.
I had never read any Michael Patrick Hick’s works before, but I truly enjoyed my first experience of his writing, and I’m sure it won’t be my last.
It is not easy to combine solid, convincing characters and page-turning action that flows well in a short format, but the author manages to do precisely that and his writing is excellent. He has a good eye for detail and his descriptions bring to life the settings and the creatures (sorry to be so cryptic, but I’m trying not to spoil the fun for future readers), without slowing the pace.
The story is narrated in the third-person, from several characters’ points-of-view (mostly Antoine De Witt and Jon Dangle), and the two main characters have very distinct voices and personalities. The author manages to make Antoine an interesting and sympathetic character in the short time we spend with him. He is one of those characters who wake up on the wrong side of the bed and things go from bad to worse. He is a very atypical example of the reluctant hero. He is far from flawless and can be mean at times but I think most readers will find it easy to root for him. The author offers us less information about the rest of the characters but the few details we get help us gain some understanding of their situation and their reasoning, however much we might disagree with them or dislike them. As for the creatures… I’ll leave you to read the story, but I warn anybody who does not like bugs, as you will suffer if you read it.
There is plenty of detailed gore and graphic violence and there is an intense sense of claustrophobia that adds to the horror in some moments of the story. This is not subtle psychological horror but rather punch-in-the-gut scares and an almost physiological sharing of the feelings and sensations of the protagonists. While in the past I have recommended some books that fall within the horror genre to the general public, this novella is not for everybody, but it is perfect for lovers of monsters and creature horrors who don’t mind plenty of creepy details. And it comes with the bonus of fabulous writing and serious social and moral themes that elevate it beyond poor entertainment. Just a word about the ending; It was not totally unexpected, but it was extremely well done and I loved it.
I hope to read more of this author’s work in the future and I encourage other lovers of the horror genre to give him a try. You’re in for a treat.
Thanks to the publisher for the novella, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and keep smiling!