Review: Island of the Forbidden by Hunter Shea

islandoftheforbiddenAbout Island of the Forbidden

Sometimes, the dead are best left in peace.

Jessica Backman has been called to help a strange family living on a haunted island in Charleston Harbor. Ormsby Island was the site of a brutal massacre two decades ago, and now the mysterious Harper family needs someone to exorcise the ghosts that still call it home. The phantoms of over one hundred children cannot rest.

But something far more insidious is living on the island. When the living and the dead guard their true intentions, how can Jessica discover just what sort of evil lurks on Ormsby Island? And why is Jessica the only one who can plumb its dark depths?

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, on Twitter @HunterShea1, Facebook fan page at Hunter Shea or the Monster Men 13 channel on YouTube.

My Thoughts

[Note: I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher via NetGalley for review.]

Hunter Shea's latest, Island of the Forbidden, brings back his series heroine, Jessica Backman, and her paranormal hunting partner, Eddie Home, for a third adventure.

While I haven't read any of the prior Backman books (yet!), Shea's previous release, Hell Hole, was enough to get me to jump into the deep end with his assurances, via his blog, that this one could be read as a standalone novel. And, for the most part, I'd have to agree. Shea does a great job of catching reader's up on the background between Backman and Home, and their last case together, which has weakened Home and driven a rift between he and Jessica, setting her off on a solo cross-country journey.

However, the paranormal perils of Ormsby Island and the threat it poses for two young children, are enough to draw Jessica and Eddie back together. The island, and the mansion that rests there, have been bought by the Harper family in an effort to drum up money by selling their real-life ghost story as a reality TV show. But, in order to do that, they first have to rile up the dead, putting themselves and their children in danger.

Island of the Forbidden is a bit of a slow-burn ghost novel. Shea does some strong character work, and it's fascinating to witness how Ormsby Island changes the Harper's, particularly Tobe, the family patriarch. (And, a side-note here, but I can't but think that Tobe Harper may be a bit of an ode to horror film director Tobe Hooper, who is best known for the movie Poltergeist.) There's also a long unraveling of what, exactly, happened on Ormsby Island, the site of a massive massacre (to say the least), a description that serves merely to scratch the surface of the awful truth.

Unlike the weird western Hell Hole, however, this work is not a constant stream of paranormal action and gunfights against the undead or undying. Rather, this is a more subtle and nuanced work of horror, with the ghostly shenanigans sprinkled throughout and building toward a powerful climax that sees the full fury of the island's apparitions brought to bear against the living.

Overall, I was nicely satisfied by Island of the Forbidden, and found it to be an accessible entry-point to Shea's series despite not having read any of the prior Jessica Backman novels. If anything, I'm even more intrigued in these past stories now and will be aiming to read through them as soon as I can. She's a fun, plucky character that I'd like to read more about as she square's off against ghastly, ghostly threats. Here's to hoping we haven't seen the last of her and Eddie.

Buy Island of the Forbidden At Amazon

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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