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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Montauk Monster by Hunter Shea

Shea is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I have yet to read a book from him that didn’t scratch that horror/monster itch that I was looking for. This is his latest effort, and it doesn’t disappoint. If you remember a few years ago a weird creature washed up on the shore near Montauk. It was clearly an animal that was rendered unrecognizable by being in the ocean and decaying, but it was odd looking. This started the invention of a whole new cryptid that had nerds on the internet speculating to what it was. This is where Shea takes his inspiration.

In his fictional version of Montauk, we are introduced to Gray, a local police officer, who is called out on a call of bodies at a beach in a nearby park. Only the bodies are in an odd state, melting and bubbling. We the reader know that they were attacked by something, but the characters don’t know that yet. The basic story here is that the government has been brewing up a horrible weapon in a lab off the coast. It is a biological weapon nicknamed War Machine. They are nearly unstoppable killing machines spliced together with DNA from many creatures. They are loose and killing anyone or anything that gets near them.

That is pretty bad, no? Well, it gets worse as the scientists decided to splice a super virus onto the animals. Even if they just scratch you a sickness takes hold that leads to your organs turning to mush with you eventually melting! Anyone touched by your remains will also get sick and die and become just as contagious. So, the monsters not only tear thru people but also bring an unstoppable plague! Gray and an ever-decreasing group of survivors at first fight to stop the War Machines but eventually just try to get out of town before the place is firebombed!

I love this book. It has everything that a good creature story needs. The story is quickly paced as we go from first encounter to full blown panic at breakneck speed. Though Shea does take the time to develop the characters both main and supporting well along the way. This is important as the story plays out because when one or more of them dies horribly it has an impact. I found myself rooting for certain characters to make it out, only for them to be victimized, some in horrible ways. When a story like this has generic characters getting killed off it feels too much like a “line them up and knock them off” scenario. Here the body count is high, but they feel like real people. That is cool in a horribly depressing way that I enjoyed. Yeah, I might be weird.

The monsters are brought to the page with vivid descriptions by Shea. Each one is slightly different in both size and appearance. Apparently genetically creating word destroying monsters isn’t an exact science. The deaths are also gleefully described with limbs flying, throats being ripped out to the spine, and people being battered against trees, cars, and anything else handy. We also get descriptions of bodies melting with organs liquifying and even one person popping like a balloon. This is a gorefest folks and I got a huge kick out of it.

I don’t know if it is intentional or not, but Shea’s books remind me of a drive-in movie. Great plots with twisted monsters and characters that are well defined and fun. The best part is that he isn’t constrained with budget and can let his mind go wild. He knocked it out of the park again with The Montauk Monster! Though you can’t go wrong with anything he has written to this point. It is all great! Do yourself a favor and check his stuff out.

 

© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

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