As much as I want to give this book five stars based on enjoyability alone, I'm not going to because it does have its problems. The middle of the book could use another proofread or two for typos and missing words. This seems to be a running issue with Sinister Grin Press and modern horror novels in general. I really wish authors and publishers would do better with their editing. Sinister Grin's covers and formatting are great, and they pick great stories, but the quality of the editing is half-assed at best. This one was much cleaner than the first two SG books I read, but there were still more errors than I was comfortable with. And I have a feeling that it was cleaner because Shea's been around a while and knows what he's doing.
One thing's for sure, the story is terrific. I had a lot of fun getting to know West and Matt and Debi and Grandpa Abraham. And, yes, even Faith. By the time the shit hit the fan, I knew each of them well enough that I cared what happened to them.
The last 60% of this book is adrenaline-fueled madness. I only put it down to eat and use the restroom, but I didn't want to put it down even then. Were it not for the necessities of being human, I'd have easily finished the last 40% in a single setting.
It's been a long time since I read a horror novel that cared this much about its cast. I'd forgotten how much fun it is being invested in the people I'm reading about. I can't think of the last horror novel I read whose character's names I can remember. Several times I found myself thinking, "Man, what's gonna happen to West... or Debi... or Matt." I loved that these characters were flawed but still likeable. Especially Matt. Even Grandpa Abraham's curmudgeonly ass. Sure he was racist and crude and an all around dickhead to everyone, but I wanted to read about him. I wanted to know what was going to happen.
Not sure if Hunter Shea reads his reviews, but I have to apologize to him. I'd put off reading the guy for the longest time because I was told he was just another word mill, someone who cared more for quantity over quality. If this book is anything to go by, the person who told me that was wrong. I hate that I've missed out on reading Shea's work. I plan on fixing that ASAP.
In summation: This book brought back a slice of my childhood; memories of reading under the covers with a flashlight, of chewing my nails in anxious anticipation of what was going to happen next, of rooting for the good guys to overcome the bad guys against all odds. This book is simply a lot of fun, which makes the lack of proofreading hurt that much more. But that seems to be the state of modern horror fiction, and horror fans don't seem to care, either. I guess I'll just have to learn how to ignore it. I'll definitely be looking up more Hunter Shea in the near future.
Final Judgment: The most fun I've had with a horror novel in ages.