Review: Sunblind by Michael McBride


About Sunblind

When U.S. Border Patrol Agent Christian Rivera discovers the body of an undocumented alien in the middle of the vast Sonoran Desert with three enigmatic words carved into her flesh, presumably by her own hand, it triggers a frantic search for the remainder of her party, a group of twenty-five men and women who have inexplicably vanished into the desert.

Aided by two of the agency's best trackers, Rivera follows the woman's trail into the brutal heart of one of the hottest and most unforgiving landscapes on the planet, where nothing can survive for long. As more bodies turn up, Rivera and the others begin to realize they may be up against an enemy far deadlier than the desert, an unseen adversary that will stop at nothing to take from them what it needs to survive. A mythical evil that may not be myth at all, but horrifically real, could very well be stalking them, and their only hope of surviving the same fate that befell the missing party lies in deciphering the clues to their disappearance before it's too late. If it isn't already…

From Michael McBride, bestselling author of Burial Ground and Snowblind, comes Sunblind, a thrilling new novel of terror and action that will take you on an unforgettable journey from the desperate streets of Mexico, through the deadliest corridor in the world, to a place where mankind was never meant to tread.

About the Author

Michael McBride was born in Colorado and still resides in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. He hates the snow, but loves the Avalanche. He works with medical radiation, yet somehow managed to produce five children, none of whom, miraculously, have tails, third eyes, or other random mutations. He writes fiction that runs the gamut from thriller to horror to science fiction...and loves every minute of it.


My Thoughts

In Sunblind, Michael McBride's latest DarkFuse horror novel, the parched, sun-drenched climes of the Sonoran Desert is every bit as vital to this piece as the characters and creatures.

Alternating between the story of a group of undocumented migrants crossing the Mexican border into Arizona and the investigation by Border Patrol into the grisly aftermath of their journey, the desert setting becomes its own violent, horrifying force of opposition. The group face not only the aggressive pathos of their coyote, but the threats of snake bites, dehydration, exposure, and severe sunburns. In fact, the dangerous environment and its effects on the human body, and the lengths some will go to just to survive another hour or another day, are as terrifying and squirm inducing as any other bit of horror. Before too long, as their numbers begin to dwindle, it becomes clear that they are also being stalked by a powerful, stealthy, and unimaginable hunter.

One of the really fun aspects of Sunblind is watching how deftly McBride alternates between the present-day and the recent past while keeping the story interesting and full of surprises. By introducing the lone survivor of the desert crossing in the opening pages, readers may think they know what comes next - and, to a certain degree, they're right. However, McBride is able to keep the narrative suspenseful and fraught with tension, and with a pacing that's right on the money. The cards are laid out up front, and so the investment as a reader lies entirely with seeing how Border Patrol Agent Rivera's fresh discoveries merge with the events that unravel in the back story.

And, oh boy, do they unravel.

While the story is fundamentally a creature feature, somewhat in the vein of The Relic if you swap out the museum for a desert, the focus is squared centrally on the human cast. The story is a dark one, about the trials and tribulations and dangers of border crossing, from the Mexican ghettos where human cargo and cartel drug trafficking is the prime order of business, to the desolate, but no less perilous, vast expanse of sun-baked land. Equally horrendous are the traumatic backgrounds that drive the principle immigrants, and the dreams of their companions that are far sunnier and hopeful than the circumstances they find themselves engulfed by. Wrapped up around all of this is the narrative surrounding the Border Patrol's investigation as they slowly and surely find evidence that things are far worse than they could have predicted.

While the characters, particularly Mayra, the lone survivor of her traveling band of immigrants, are well-developed and realistic, it becomes clear from the opening pages that McBride has certainly done his due diligence in researching for this novel. He peppers in facts regarding illegal immigrations, the number of souls lost to the desert, and the work of the Border Patrol so expertly that Sunblind could just as easily be a top-notch mystery/suspense thriller if not for the presence of ancient monsters. This additional layering adds a lot of depth and style, as well all the all-important sense of realism, to get the ball rolling for the horror to ultimately unfold.

Sunblind is a very strong book and will likely make for quite a solid contender during the DarkFuse Readers Choice selections later this year.

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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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