Sunday, 11 December 2016

HELL HOLES by Donald Firesmith @DonFiresmith

4 out of 5 stars

Arctic supernatural thriller

On Amazon UK HERE
On Goodreads HERE

Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber's Review Team

Mostly, I enjoyed this.  It's very much escapist genre fiction, which could have done with a better edit to rectify repetitions and a few lazily constructed sentences, but I did like it.  It's about geological scientist Jack Oswald who goes out to Alaska with his wife and two of his grad students, to investigate the appearance of mysterious holes in the tundra.  Also along for the ride is enigmatic journalist Aileen O'Connor. 

Once at camp, all hell is let loose as demonic beings appear from the depths of the mysterious craters.  Very quickly, the situation grows from horrendous to super-horrendous.

The author has obviously done his geological research, to the extent of the dialogue being a bit on the information-heavy side in the first half of the book, but if the information is interesting I don't mind, and this was.  It cracks on at a great pace thereafter.  At first I was a little put off by the sudden change from feasible arctic geological mystery thriller to Harry Potter-like spells and gargoyles the size of lions, but once I got used to it (pretty quickly), it kind of worked.  The action was fast, convincing and scary.  Do bear in mind that I'm not a great lover of supernatural; I don't imagine that this will be any sort of problem for those who are used to reading this genre, in fact you'll probably love it.

The book turned out to be only long novella length, or certainly very short novel, as it suddenly ends at about 80%, with a humdinger of a cliffhanger.  The rest of the book is taken up with information about the series, notes about the inspiration for the book, and part of Book Two.  Now, I didn't understand the 'part of Book Two' thing AT ALL.  Some people don't like parts of series ending in a cliffhanger.  I do, I love it.  This cliffhanger was so good that all I wanted to do was find out what happened next, to the extent that I would have gone straight to Amazon and bought the next one if it was available, which is, surely, the purpose of such endings.  So why, Mr Firesmith, have you given me a reason not to, by sticking 'what happened next' at the back of Book One?  Think on! 

My other complaint is about the diagrams at the beginning of the book.  Placed there, they meant little.  If the diagram for Pump Station 2 was placed right at the start of, or in the middle of, the chapter when the group arrive there, it would have given me all the information I needed, instead of me having to imagine it/keep flicking back to the start.  The Alaska map could have been better placed, too.

I give this book a thumbs up, despite the criticisms.  If you like arctic landscapes and demonic thrills, I suggest you nip over to Amazon and download it immediately.

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