Review: Dead Five's Pass by Colin F. Barnes


About Dead Five's Pass

When a new cave is discovered in the Rocky Mountains, no one considered the terrible consequences that would follow.

A volunteer mountain rescuer dealing with the loss of a child, the break-up of a relationship and the grief of a rescue gone wrong, Carise Culey isn't sure she's the right person for the job when she receives an emergency call. A climber is missing, presumed dead, and his girlfriend is found bloodied, beaten and catatonic with fear.

Carise soon realizes the discovery of the cave is worse than anyone could have imagined and learns of another group of teenagers already on their way there. With the onset of harsh winter weather, and the threat of an unknown evil, she reaches out to her ex-boyfriend and fellow rescue volunteer, Marcel, for help.

The two must travel to the cave to save the kids, themselves, and perhaps all of humanity…

Dead Five's Pass is a tense, frightening tale of ancient secrets, high stakes, and dark, dangerous places.

About the Author

Colin F. Barnes is a publisher and full-time writer of science fiction and techno thrillers. He honed his craft with the London School of Journalism and the Open University (BA, English). Colin has run a number of tech-based businesses, worked in rat-infested workshops, and scoured the back streets of London looking for characters and stories.

He has three novels out in his cyberpunk technothriller series THE TECHXORCIST. His recent release is a new novel, SALT: A Post-Apocalyptic Thriller.

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My Thoughts

I'm a sucker for a good snowy scare story. Set up a big nasty and its unwitting victims against a frigid landscape, and I'm in. Thankfully, Dead Five's Pass lived up fully to my expectations and I got exactly what I was looking for. And hey, that cover art? Stunning.

Satellite images have revealed a new cave system along Dead Five's Pass, and a group of college kids from their university climbing club are on a race to be the first there. One couple arrives early, much to their detriment, and discover the terror residing within. One has just enough time to radio in an emergency call before the inevitable, which prompts volunteer rescuers Carise and her estranged lover, Marcel, to set out along the mountain pass to save the climbers.

In short order, author Colin F. Barnes introduces us to the main cast, sets the blood flowing, establishes the unsettling presence of broken minds and eerie glyphs, and the threat of a large, tentacled monster hidden within the cave.

Carise and Marcel are given depth by the shared trauma of her miscarriage two years earlier. Losing their child drove them apart, particularly as Carise grew more despondent and found salvation in booze. My heart went out to them, and Barnes won me over to Carise's side immediately. She's a strong protag to root for!

Barnes manages to escalate the nature of the opposition his mountain rescuers face without making the book feel unbalanced or over-stuffed, and he keeps the pace running smooth. The action is crisp, and the story itself makes for a fun bit of adventure with its cave setting. It's easy to see why this title has earned a 2014 DarkFuse Reader's Choice nomination for best novella. Dead Five's Pass is another strong entry in DarkFuse's lineup and well worth a read.

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Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. 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.

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