Zakk reviews “The Dover Demon” by Hunter Shea. 242 pages published by Samhain Publishing LTD. (Sahmain Horror).
Overall Score: 4/5
“The only people who knew the signs were the very few who had seen them before, larger than life, stranger than a fever dream, a moment in time that could capture you in amber if you let it. Kelly would never have been able to explain the HOW to anyone who asked. It wasn’t anything tactile, a triggering of the senses that alerted her to their presence. It was an inexplicable KNOWING, an itch at the base of her skull that could never be scratched.”
On an April night in 1977, in Dover Massachusetts, four teens, while cruising a dark back country road, crossed paths with a creature not of this world. 30 years later as they have tried to move on with their lives, creature eyewitness reports have began to pop back up, resembling the thing they saw so long ago. And the clues point to a possibility of these four adults having been marked by the Dover Demon.
“This wasn’t the stuff of wishes fulfilled by a genie. This was every child’s nightmare, the bogeyman living just beneath your feet, breathing in your ear as you burrowed your head deeper into the pillow, too scared to turn.”
Leading up to the release of The Dover Demon I was pretty hyped, borderline over excited for it. With the name Hunter Shea stamped on the cover, a name that lends a particular credence, couple that with a tale steeped in history and fantastic cover art, how could one not be? I was psyched to the point of being concerned about putting it on a pedestal. Once something is on a pedestal there usually can be only two outcomes: being graced by the pristine glow of greatness or crumble under the pressure, taking a harsh tumble off of the edge. Does The Dover Demon survive the unfair pressure I placed upon it?
Yes, it does, mostly.
Based on an actual event (a true event, depending on your level of belief), one that I was not all too familiar with, adds a satisfying depth to the piece. It’s interesting getting a glimpse of the life of a town that is the home, for better of for worse, of an urban legend, how the town feels about outsiders infringing for a hoot.
This novel is populated with a cast of interesting, believable characters tapping mainly into the lives of Sam Brogna (one of the eyewitnesses in 1977) and his teenage son Nikki. The dissolution of Sam’s marriage and his relationship with Nikki felt true and honest. As the story develops Sam’s loss, his urgency feel like tangible emotions. They were characters I enjoyed spending time with.
But overall my favorite character is that of Kelly Weathers, Sam’s girlfriend in 1977 and now just somebody he used to know. She has taken the Demon encounter the hardest. Not merely jumping, but tightening the noose and plunging down the rabbit hole, double fisting bottle of hard liquor. The Dover Demon has consumed her spirit and her soul, becoming the focus of her life. With the best scene being the moment Sam wakes up on Kelly’s couch from a night of heavy drinking and stumbles into Kelly’s base of operations, a tangled nest of evidence, newspaper reports, photos and connecting of dots.
Tank and Stephanie round out the group of friends, the other two eyewitnesses now married. They’re here to lend support to our the more upfront characters and they do fine in the role.
There is a great deal of tension and and anxiety threading this read, with a thread of mystery, thickening as you make your way through. Quite a few unsettling scenes, gross and icky things looking to do gross and icky things, are present to embed nightmares into your subconscious. And they are very effective. I was expecting a more fantastical ending, but what you get is a somewhat grounded in reality finale. It works, and adds a nice little punch, and if I may admit, a little fist pump for the character getting his retribution.
**MINOR SPOILER ALERT**
My only misgiving with this read, is in a section toward the end. These ancient creatures are able to embed false memories and hallucinations into people’s minds. They are also able to contort time and space to transport people to different places.
There is a good sized section of the book where our main cast is separated and popping in and out of different locations whilst being chased. It reminded me of a Scooby Doo hallway chase, where heroes and villains are popping in and out of random doors, crossing paths, it was a little distracting and kind of took me out of the book for a bit.
How much did this really get in the way of my full enjoyment of the book. Shit man, that’s hard to say. Probably not as much as it could bother other readers. I’m pretty easy to please and there is a lot of interesting things going on in the meantime.
Hunter Shea is a great writer, highly entertaining, and definitely in the upper echelon in the current horror scene. Many other writers mention either loving his work and/or having the man influence their own, and for just cause. His writing suits anyone with a taste for the dark and terrifying.
Last but not least is the story behind the event. Scroll below and make your way down the rabbit hole.
“Close, but no cigar, pay a buck and try your luck.”
Put “The Dover Demon” on a playlist with Glenn Rolfe’s “Boom Town”, Stephen King’s “From a Buick 8” and the films “Prometheus” & “Fire in the Sky”.
Zakk is a big dumb animal.
“Wait, how did it get there? I thought I had it in my coat pocket. Even if I didn’t, I never put it in my back pocket.
Girls stuffed cell phones in their back pockets.”
Damn, I keep my phone in my back pocket. 😦
**Note: I sought out and received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These are my unbiased feelings.
A trip Hunter Shea made to the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine two years ago sparked the idea for THE DOVER DEMON. While he was there, he met famed cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman and talked about creatures he’s personally investigated. It turns out, he was the man on the scene in Dover, MA in the late 70s when the uber strange biped was spotted by several people over the course of two nights in April, Hunter reported. He also gave it its name, Dover Demon.
Now, Hunter’s fictional world of The Dover Demon has been published as a novel and he was able to go back to the museum of cryptids in August and have a launch party for the book with Loren Coleman! To read more about that and see photos, head over to his site via this link: http://huntershea.com/2015/08/30/the-dover-demon-raises-his-round-little-head-cryptid-novel-release-day/
The Dover Demon, Synopsis~
• File Size: 1032 KB
• Print Length: 242 pages
• Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (September 1, 2015)
• Publication Date: September 1, 2015
The Dover Demon is real…and it has returned.
In 1977, Sam Brogna and his friends came upon a terrifying, alien creature on a deserted country road. What they witnessed was so bizarre, so chilling, they swore their silence. But their lives were changed forever.
Decades later, the town of Dover has been hit by a massive blizzard. Sam’s son, Nicky, is drawn to search for the infamous cryptid, only to disappear into the bowels of a secret underground lair. The Dover Demon is far deadlier than anyone could have believed. And there are many of them. Can Sam and his reunited friends rescue Nicky and battle a race of creatures so powerful, so sinister, that history itself has been shaped by their secretive presence?
Barnes and Noble
Praise for Hunter Shea~
“This wholly enthralling hulk of a summer beach read is redolent of sunscreen and nostalgia, recalling mass market horror tales of yore by John Saul, Dean Koontz, and Peter Benchley.” — Publishers Weekly — Voted one of the best reads of summer, on The Montauk Monster
“Bloody good read! This guy knows his monsters!”- Eric S Brown, author of Bigfoot War and Boggy Creek: The Legend is True, on Swamp Monster Massacre
Hunter Shea Biography~
Hunter Shea is the author of the novels The Montauk Monster, Tortures of the Damned, Sinister Entity, Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal, and The Dover Demon. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales, and the Cemetery Dance anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. He’s currently working on or completed a few more manuscripts set to come.
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.
Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, cryptid and ghost hunters, directors, and anyone else living in the horror lane.
He lives in New York with his family and vindictive cat. He waits with Biblical patience for the Mets to win a World Series. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at http://www.huntershea.com or find him on Facebook and Twitter.
On this tour, win one signed print copy of The Dover Demon if you are in the U.S.! Just sign-up at the Rafflecopter link below:
Hunter Shea’s other summer smash hit, Tortures of the Damned, was featured in Fangoria magazine. He’s giving away 2 signed copies that Fangoria. How do you win? Anyone who signs up for Dark Hunter Newsletter (http://huntershea.com/newsletter/) between now and September 28th and lives in the US is eligible. Already signed up? Refer a friend and if they win, grab it from their mailbox.