“Watch out, world, the Wraith is coming for you. As always, Shea brings the thrills with this urban exploration mystery chiller!” Megan Hart, New York Times bestseller author
Five years after Ashley King survived the infamous Resort Massacre, she’s found hanging in her basement by her fiancé, Todd Matthews. She left behind clues as to what really happened that night, clues that may reveal the identity of the killer the press has called The Wraith. With the help of his friends, Todd goes back to the crumbling Hayden Resort, a death-tinged ruin in the Catskills Mountains. What they find is a haunted history that’s been lying in wait for a fresh set of victims. The Wraith is back, and he’s nothing what they expected.
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Horror After Dark Review
SLASH, by Hunter Shea, is a novel that crosses into many sub-genres of horror. We have the “final girl” troupe, psychological and physical horror, thriller, paranormal, and most prominently, the “slasher” type of horror made popular in ’80’s movies.
Ashley King was the only one to escape the Wraith during the Hayden Resort Massacre five years ago. Yet she never completely survived, as part of her mind had chosen to break down in the aftermath.
“. . . she would never, ever again be fine.”
Even her fiancé, Todd, wasn’t enough to keep her terror at bay, and it feels inevitable when he finds her hanging body in their basement.
“. . . I’m broken . . . and there’s only one way to fix me . . . “
The first part of this novel delves into the emotional turmoil and fury felt by Todd. Largely, he blames Ashley’s suicide on the “Final Girl” fanatics that use wouldn’t let her be, never allowing her to forget what she had been through.
“. . . Terror of the man the world had dubbed the Wraithbecause he was a faceless, nameless killer . . . “
This section give us the most detailed and vivid understanding of how much Todd loved Ashley, and the lengths he would go to for her. The poignant emotions felt real, and made what was to come later all the more believable for them. Here was a man that would face anything to better understand what his girlfriend went through.
“Absolute terror makes your mind do funny things . . . I’ve lost myself to fear all these years . . . “
We are eventually introduced to Todd’s closet friends, and from there on out, the novel changes in tone. Although the heartache and loss are still pertinent, we enter into a slasher-film style. The violent action, fast pacing, and incredible scenarios continue to build page after page.
Good luck finding a place to pause before the end of this one.
“. . . He came out of the darkness and he returned to it . . .”
The derelict Hayden resort was a horror-enthusiast’s dream come true. This once fine establishment catering to the well-to-do was now a broken, defaced sprawling estate littered with the remains of glass, furniture, and the very buildings, themselves. While reading, it brought to mind some of the abandoned asylums I’ve seen on “Ghost-hunter” type of television shows.
“. . . maybe . . . the place was bad. It turned men into murderers. Maybe not good men, but anyone who had more darkness than light in their souls.”
The atmosphere was a catalyst–it invited the most horrible and brutal images possible.
Then, it delivered them.
“. . . Some mysteries aren’t meant to be solved . . . “
The dynamics between these friends is shown quite powerfully in the lengths they each to to in order to support Todd’s need to “see” and “feel” what Ashley may have gone through. What she had faced half a decade earlier had changed her so completely that the only way to escape her mental torment was by ending her physical existence.
Even though her mind had managed to block all of the main details, what could the remainder hold that was so lethal?
Once the action began heating up, Todd’s own thoughts changed dramatically.
“. . . Maybe he should have been more astounded that she’d lasted as long as she had . . .”
Overall, I really enjoyed how Shea took this novel of mystery, sorrow and loss, and turned it into a non-stop Slasher fest. This wasn’t a mindless B-grade movie style, either. This was an intelligent, and completely unexpected, twisted tale that made me think about various legends, lores, and the very nature of evil.
“. . . I don’t think we can ever call ourselves normal people again.”
The characters worked well with their distinctive personalities, and the threats that the ruined, former resort confronted them with. There was so much here that made this novel stand out among others of its kind. The implications alone make me wish there was even more to the book.
“. . . the problem with loving someone. Sooner or later, you realize that no matter what you do, you can’t protect hem . . . “
About The Author
Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn t just write about the paranormal he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. He s the author of over 25 books, including The Jersey Devil (Pinnacle) and We Are Always Watching (Sinister Grin). Hunter s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. The Montauk Monster was named one of the best reads of the summer by Publishers Weekly. He was selected to be part of the launch of Samhain Publishing s new horror line in 2011 alongside legendary author Ramsey Campbell. He s an avid podcaster and can be heard and seen on Monster Men and Final Guys every week. Living with his crazy and supportive family and two cats, he s happy to be close enough to New York City to see the skyline without having to pay New York rent. You can follow his travails at www.huntershea.com.