About Hell Hole
Deep in a Wyoming mine, hell awaits.
Former cattle driver, Rough Rider and current New York City cop Nat Blackburn is given an offer he can’t refuse by President Teddy Roosevelt. Tales of gold in the abandoned mining town of Hecla, in the Deep Rock Hills, abound. The only problem–those who go seeking their fortune never return.
Along with his constant companion, Teta, a hired gun with a thirst for adventure, Nat travels to a barren land where even animals dare not tread. But the remnants of Hecla are far from empty. Black-eyed children, strange lights and ferocious wild men venture from the deep, dark mine...as well as a force so sinister Nat’s and Teta’s very souls are in jeopardy.
There’s a mystery in Hecla thousands of years old. Solving it could spell the end of the world.
About the Author
Hunter Shea is the author of the novels Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal, Sinister Entity and The Graveyard Speaks. His stories have 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 Monster Men video podcast, a fun look at the world of horror. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com, on Twitter @HunterShea1, Facebook fan page at Hunter Shea or the Monster Men 13 channel on YouTube.
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review via NetGalley.)
Hunter Shea's latest is a weird west monster mash that finds Nat Blackburn and his compatriot, Teta, two of Teddy Roosevelt's famed Rough Riders, squaring off against demonic forces in the abandoned mining town of Hecla, Wyoming.
Hecla has a sordid history. There's gold in them there hills, yet prospectors who venture into town are never heard from again. The entire town has up and disappeared, and the latest in a long line of missing are troops sent by President Roosevelt to investigate. As Nat and Teta discover, Hecla is far from abandoned. In fact, there's all kinds of life cooped up in the mining veins of Deep Rock Hills. Only thing is, none of it's human...
The first thing that struck me about Hell Hole is that I imagine Shea had a hell of a good time writing it. There's a constant sense of fun infused in this off-kilter story, along with a sort of tongue-in-cheek tone that is absolutely essential to the proceedings. While it's a bit of a grim story, and there is a definite darkness lurking about Hecla, it maintains a proper B-movie level of seriousness, and Shea keeps upping the ante monster-wise, leaving readers to wonder just what in the hell is going on here. The answer, of course, will be left unspoiled here, but I found it to be a terrific reveal as I have a bit of a soft spot for these mythological beasties.
The relationship between Nat and Teta is also really terrific. Shea provides a wonderful backdrop for their friendship and demonstrates on more than one occasion just how true and strong their bond is. Both are old-fashioned gunslingers, in the mold of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, or maybe The Lone Ranger and Tonto, with an intriguing shared history that solidifies their partnership.
My only complaint about Hell Hole is that there seems to be at least one action beat too many, and the middle part of the book feels a bit too drawn out and repetitious. There are two characters, Angus and Mattias, a sort of Wild West ghost-busting duo, who prove vitally important to the climax and I could have done with having them introduced a bit sooner. That said, the finale is a raucous amount of fun, and Shea has a knack for describing some truly strange creatures and demons set to oppose our heroes, with a well-constructed callback to Nat and Teta's time in the war against the Spaniards as they find themselves neck-deep in a far stranger battle.
This is a fun read to be saddled up with, and I'm hoping we get to see more of Nat and Teta again in the future. Recommended.