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Forest of Shadows, by Hunter Shea
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Published: 2011
Review Posted: 9/15/2013
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

Forest of Shadows, by Hunter Shea

Book Review by Michael D. Griffiths

Have you read this book?

The Forest of Shadows by Hunter Shea is a horror novel put out by Samhain. I believe it is Hunter's first novel and certainly a fine debut publication on his part. The book has a strong build up and a good deal of suspense. Even though the book focuses on the main character, John, Hunter uses several other points of view to try to flesh out the story and give it a well-rounded feel.

The story, strangely enough, begins with a sex scene, which interruption leads to fight between John and his wife. She then dies that night and he also wins the lottery and becomes a multimillionaire. For the next five years the money helps keep him afloat while he struggles through his depression and anxiety. The author does a good job explaining his anxiety attacks and they seem realistic. This free time also gives John the time to pursue his love for the supernatural and the unexplained.

He gets a tip regarding a haunted house in the boonies of Alaska and decides to take his daughter, her aunt, and his one year old nephew to investigate. This plunges him into the small town of Shida. This Native American town tends to hate outsiders, especially if they are white. Soon his life becomes a race to figure out what is going on in this creepy old mansion before he is either snowed in or the locals send him packing.

The book is well written and the characters are interesting and likable. The horror level is good, there are some scary moments and since I was camping through most of the read in left me a little jumpy when I had to leave my tent at night, but it was not a keep your lights on at night level.

Some drawbacks include random POV shifts. Personally I am not sure why this is happening in so many books I am reading these days. Why are publishers letting these things slip through? Do they just not care anymore? It just seems weird to me that published books have POV shifts that would be shot down in two seconds in my little local writing group. There are other small things like the convenience of suddenly being a millionaire and the sexual tension between John and his daughter's aunt that never plays out into anything. The last thing is the racism. Now this is a more complex issue. I hate racism, but it obviously exists. So this begs the question as a writer as to how it should be dealt with. Just ignoring it will not make it go away, but also writing about it seems tricky. I am certainly not saying it is wrong to address, but to be honest in these days of political correctness; I am not sure what we are supposed to do. This writer handled it well, though and in the end I suppose there are no easy answers.

I enjoyed this book a lot. The reason for the haunting was strong and believable, perhaps a little over the top, but so were the ghosts, which I liked. If the house's minions just knocked on doors or said boo, I would have been pretty bored, but these guys were pretty scary. It is a fun read and would have got a higher ranking if some of the issues mentioned in the previous paragraph had been addressed a little better. In the end I would recommend this book to all ghost story lovers who want their creepies to have an extra powerful punch and if I get the chance I will read the next book Hunter puts out.
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