I have enjoyed getting into the worlds that Hunter Shea creates and have found his novels entertaining and sufficiently frightening. I thought that all of the novels I had read by Shea (“The Montauk Monster,” “Island of the Forbidden,” and “Tortures of the Damned”) were all entertaining and would recommend them to fans of the genre. I was happy to have another novel by Shea, “The Dover Demon,” and dove right in looking for a monster story that would scare me enough to keep me awake at night.
No one really knew how long the legend of the Dover Demon had been around but the legend had come to life for Sam Brogna in 1977. Sam and his friend, Tank, and their girlfriends had come across the Dover Demon on their way home from a date. The creature had been on the side of the road laying eggs and the quartet had barely escaped with their lives. At least they thought they had escaped. There was no doubt that the encounter had changed their lives forever. Decades later, they are going to learn that they had never really escaped from the demon’s grasp.
The shadow of the Dover Demon had hung over the friend’s lives since that fateful night but now that shadow descends when a blogger posts a retelling of a recent encounter with the beast. Sam’s son and his best friend, along with the friend’s sister, decide to go hunting for the Dover Demon and come up missing. Now Sam must reunite with his friends to enter the lair of the beast and save his son or die trying.
I will start with the assertion that “The Dover Demon” is one hell of a rollercoaster ride. Shea hits all of the right notes in this one and crafts one of the best monster books in recent years. Like the aforementioned rollercoaster, “The Dover Demon” does start a little slowly with Shea setting up the story just like a rollercoaster slowly climbs to the first drop. The thrills start to roll in and they never let up until the end. This is just a fun novel to read and the pages just flew by as I raced to see what was going to happen next. There are plenty of scares mixed in with the adventure and the story never misses a beat as it rockets from one scene to the next. Even the switching between characters is done seamlessly and did not break up the narrative as happens in some books.
What makes this novel rise above its peers is the depth that Shea gives to the legend of the Dover Demon. It is clear that Shea has given a lot of thought to the concept and the mixture of monster lore with mythology with science fiction and alien encounters is a strong and fresh concept that Shea explores in a way that I have not quite encountered before. These are not just monsters. They are characters of substance in their own right and command the same respect as the human characters. There is plenty of adventure and action in the novel but there is a well-designed structure that the story is built upon that give is some extra gravitas. I will admit that my memory is not the greatest but I would say that this is my favorite monster novel of the year and I can think of few others in recent years that can rival it. Horror fans and fans of monsters and aliens need to pick this book up and strap themselves in for the ride.
I would like to thank Samhain Publishing and NetGalley for this advance review copy. “The Dover Demon” is scheduled to be released in September.