Zakk reviews The Monster Underneath by Matthew Franks

The Eyes of Madness presents “Simple reviews from a simple reader…”

Zakk reviews “The Monster Underneath” by Matthew Franks. 219 pages published by Samhain Publishing LTD. (Samhain Horror)

“Dreams may shed light on a person’s mind, but the second I entered John Asher’s dream, things got dark real fast. I was standing in the middle of the woods when I heard a woman screaming for help. I rushed toward her and soon came upon a dense patch of trees. Unlike the rest of the mostly full and vibrant forest, they were barren and linked in a twisted mass of branches. The woman was just beyond the thicket.”


Reality can be the difference between a dream and a nightmare…

Max Crawford isn’t a typical prison therapist. He uses his unusual psychic ability to walk with convicts through their dreams, reliving their unspeakable crimes alongside them to show them the error of their ways.

Max always has to be on his toes to keep himself grounded, but the FBI agent waiting for him in his private office immediately puts him on edge. The bureau wants Max to go way outside his comfort zone to enter the dreams of suspected serial killer William Knox.

To get a confession and secure the future of his prison program, Max must gain Knox’s trust by any means necessary—and survive the minefield of secrets waiting inside a murderer’s mind. Secrets that could turn Max’s reality into a living nightmare.

“Once he was standing still with his nose pressed against the wall, the teacher left the room. I continued to watch him, first and foremost out of curiosity. A few moments passed and he stepped away from the wall. He moved to the desk and picked up the paddle. He looked at it closely, as if discovering it for the first time. He ran his finger down along the edge and back up the middle.

To my surprise, he then held it to his mouth and pressed his tongue against the wood. He licked the paddle like a puppy lapping water from a bowl.”

The Monster Underneath, the first novel release from Matthew Franks, is an enjoyable psychological thriller with some solid horror and paranormal undertones. It hooks you in quickly, plays pretty fast and has very few lulls.

Max Crawford is a likable enough character as a psychic therapist working to bring a higher level of understanding and redemption to hard-core convicts through unconvential methods.

William Knox, the possible serial killer, is the most fun in this read. He plays the cat & mouse game all too well, to the point that just maybe he could be innocent. He is an enjoyable character to read especially as his methods unfurl.

The bulk of this book takes place in the realm of dreams, constantly shifting and pulling off a dreamlike feeling well. I would have like a little more of a “real world” drama unfolding. Versus the pseudo drama-after-the-fact where thing have already happened, we’re just trying to put the pieces together. I also would have liked a little more horror thrown in, but that’s just me, I have a bloodlust. All in all these are small gripes and don’t take anything away from the reading experience.

Throw in a solid, although not overly surprising, ending and you have an equally solid and entertaining read. Cheers to Mr. Franks on his first novel release, I am fully on board for what he delivers next.

“Supporting her with one arm, he opened the door to the apartment with his free hand and led her inside. He closed the door behind them. I stayed still for a moment, trying to decide the best way to approach the situation. I could either wait and hope they came out again or find a way in without him seeing me. Obviously, if he saw me, it would throw everything into a tailspin. Wanting to stay put but knowing it would likely be unproductive, I stepped out from behind the bin and walked toward the apartment.”

Overall score: 4/ 5

Put The Monster Underneath on a playlist with Brian Kirk’s We Are Monsters and the 80’d flick Dreamscape.

Zakk is a big dumb animal!

**Note: I received a digital review copy of this book from the publisher/ publicist on the promise of an honest review. These are my unbiased feelings.

Biography of Matthew Franks

Matthew Franks lives in Arlington, Texas with his beautiful wife and children. He studied psychology and creative writing at Louisiana State University then obtained a Master’s Degree in counseling from Texas State University. When he’s not working on his next story, he’s counseling adolescents or trying to keep up with his three highly energetic daughters. You can connect with Matthew at:

Praise for The Monster Underneath

“An assured, gripping, totally engaging debut, Matthew Franks will have you burning through the pages of this taut supernatural thriller at breakneck speed. If Christopher Nolan and Stephen King ever teamed up to write a novel, this would be it. Highly recommended!”
–Ronald Malfi, author of Little Girls

“What if you could see inside the dreams of anyone you came in contact with? Would you dare to look? Could you handle the things you’d find within? The Monster Underneath is a real nail-biter – one of those ever-spiraling stories that you just can’t put down until you reach the surprising end!” –John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Covenant and The Family Tree

“The Monster Underneath is an intense and clever debut in which reality is more terrifying than the nightmares and twisted dreamscapes of a madman. Author Matthew Franks is a name to remember, his stories you won’t soon forget.” –Rena Mason, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Evolutionist and East End Girls

“Matthew Franks’ debut novel takes you through the darkest, twisted alleys of a killer’s mind and then drags you several steps further, beyond the status of observer and into the disturbing realm of accomplice. A harrowing tale of murder and delusion and moral ambiguity.” –Hank Schwaeble, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Damnable, Diabolical, and the dark thriller collection, American Nocturne

Purchase Links

Amazon US

Amazon AU

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble


Want to Feature Matthew Franks?

If you would like a copy of the book for review or to conduct an interview with Matthew Franks, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, Publicist, at Hook of a Book Media:

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