Who here loves Theresa’s reviews? I know I do and here’s another from our lady of Horror!
Broken Shells (Release Date: February 2018)
Antoine DeWitt is a man down on his luck. Broke and recently fired, he knows the winning Money Carlo ticket that has landed in his mailbox from a car dealership is nothing more than a scam. The promise of five thousand dollars, though, is too tantalizing to ignore.
Jon Dangle is a keeper of secrets, many of which are buried deep beneath his dealership. He works hard to keep them hidden, but occasionally sacrifices are required, sacrifices who are penniless, desperate, and who will not be missed. Sacrifices exactly like DeWitt.
When Antoine steps foot on Dangle’s car lot, it is with the hope of easy money. Instead, he finds himself trapped in a deep, dark hole, buried alive. If he is going to survive the nightmare ahead of him, if he has any chance of seeing his wife and child again, Antoine will have to do more than merely hope. He will have to fight his way back to the surface, and pray that Jon Dangle’s secrets do not kill him first.
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From the get go, Antoine’s characterization is somewhat complex. For example, he gets fired for a racially charged situation at work. Here, the author plants relevant American social commentary. This comes full circle by the end of the novella when we witness characters acting on fallacious assumptions about race. I really appreciated how Hicks pulls this off with minimal ‘screen time’. We aren’t beat over the head with it, but it’s still there nonetheless.
The author presents Antoine as someone extremely relatable, who although is far from perfect, has good intentions. It’s also what leads him right into the hands of the stereotypical car salesmen. What could go wrong? They’re trustworthy, right? Well, the author amusingly magnifies that trope a tad.
Once this novella kicks in, it’s a fast-paced crazy ride. Antoine is pretty much buried alive among some underground insect-like creatures. What’s happening down there is the crux of this bone chilling book. The descriptions are vivid and cringe-worthy. You will be easily be able to see, smell, and hear all of the gory details. So, if this is your jam, you need to read this book.
Will Antoine live or die? Will the creatures get freed and terrorize the world at large? Those are the primary questions that will keep you turning to the very last page.
This book is meant to be something you can gobble up in one sitting. And, the monster parts are loads of fun. I would’ve liked even more depth to the characters, and even to the monster backstory. The ending is definitely fitting for a horror story, reminiscent of an unsettling “Twilight Zone” episode. I don’t know if Hicks has considered it, but this is quite the set up for part two, or a prequel. I’d love to see how it all plays out.