I knew when I heard the title that I had to read this one. I am a fan of the paranormal, whether ghosts or cryptids, haunted houses or urban legends. The legend of the Jersey Devil has always been a popular one, and being one of the bigger known cryptid there is much information to be found about it. Still, it all boils down to a story passed down along generations leaving us to tread in the murky waters of its true origin. Author Hunter Shea takes this legend and breathes life into it by way of tons of action, gore, lovable characters, the perfect setting, and a story that won’t quit. In short, he gives us monster hunters what we want and so much more.
This tale follows the Willet family and their connection to the famed beast that spans generations. The elder patriarch has been waiting for the chance to go head-to-head with the Jersey Devil, and the time has come. He, along with his child and his grandchildren will venture into the Pine Barrens in search of the monster to settle an old score, once and for all. Some of the family members bear a strange symbol that connects them to the Devil somehow.
“Even if we do find it, do you think it’ll change anything?” Ben said.
April sidled next to him, lifting his shirt to expose his side. A bright red birthmark marred his pale flesh. The mark was in the shape of a cloven hoof. “You mean like make this go away?”
She dropped his shirt, lifting her own, revealing an identical birthmark. Daryl did the same.
“I don’t know,” Ben said. “At least we can find out what it means.”
Their father also bore the same mark. They hadn’t seen it since they were kids, but they knew it was there – a brand that had haunted them all their lives. Ben knew it was more than that. Much more. They all knew Boompa’s story by heart, how their grandmother was the first to bear it. He’d suspected there had to be more, but if the old man hadn’t seen fit to tell them, he must have had a damn good reason.
Maybe the answer was somewhere out there in the Pine Barrens. And maybe the only way to find it was through the barrel of a gun.
The Willets are driven to understand their curse and to break it so that it no longer affects future generations. Others join in on the adventure, and many, many more are unwitting victims as the Jersey Devil goes on a murderous rampage.
Shea’s style fits this tale perfectly. He spins a tale that grows bigger with each page, trailing along at speeds that seem to go faster, never slowing. The cast of characters is huge, if you’re counting the victims that the Devil piles up in droves. And believe it or not, in the midst of all of this bloodshed, Shea manages to give the Devil himself his own type of humanity. The best part is the unbelievable twist that Shea delivers. I won’t say much more about it than that.
Shea’s personal interest in the paranormal shines in the way he tells the story. He has other novels that highlight different creatures such as The Montauk Monster and The Dover Demon, and many others that contain monsters of his devising.
With each novel I’ve read by Mr. Shea, I have to say they’re getting better and better. Die-hard fans of horror will rejoice with this selection. The days of renting a good horror flick from the mom and pop video store down the street are back – in print, that is. Grab a copy of The Jersey Devil today at Amazon for a fun and filthy trip into the Barrens to meet the extraordinary beast.
I received a copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.