Ghost Mine by Hunter Shea
Publication Date: May 9th, 2019
Deep in a Wyoming mine, hell awaits. Former cattle driver, Rough Rider and current New York City cop Nat Blackburn is given an offer he can’t refuse by President Teddy Roosevelt. Tales of gold in the abandoned mining town of Hecla, in the Deep Rock Hills, abound. The only problem-those who go seeking their fortune never return. Roosevelt’s own troops are among the missing, and the President wants to know their fate – and find the gold. Along with his constant companion, Teta, a hired gun with a thirst for adventure, Nat travels to a barren land where even animals dare not tread. Along the way, they are joined by a Selma, a fiery and beautiful woman in search of her brother who was swallowed up by Hecla years earlier. Hecla is an eerie ghost town, its cemetery filled with crooked tombstones, the dusty streets scored by tumbleweed, the windows of the abandoned houses like eyes, following their every move. Terrifying wraiths flit throughout the town at night. Settling into a vacant home, Nat, Teta and Selma are approached by strange, black eyed children who then disappear like twin vapors. A trip to the mine ends with them galloping for their lives, chased by immense, hairy wild men. No, Hecla is far from abandoned – it’s teeming with the supernatural, strange beasts and phantoms both luring them deeper into the mystery and driving them away from the mine. Only when a strange preacher and his hulking mute assistant arrive (on a Godly mission after hearing the blaring horns of Revelation) do they realize they cannot leave the town’s borders, an invisible wall refusing to let them go. There’s only one thing to do – plumb the chilling depths of the ghost mine and find the source of Hecla’s bizarre power. What they stumble upon is a hellish battle of underworld forces while being tortured by the ghosts of their checkered pasts. There’s a mystery in Hecla thousands of years old. Solving it could spell the end of the world.
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Hunter Shea sucks you into this novel from the get-go and then sinks in the teeth. Both the prose and the dialogue are engaging. You’ll feel transported into the Old West, right alongside Nat and Teta, whose friendship often had me in stitches—the laugh out loud kind. I absolutely love their backstory as well as their quips as things get progressively weirder and weirder.
Let’s talk about that weirdness, shall we? Circumstances have to be pretty dire when the president personally asks you to investigate a location that seems to swallow people whole. Is greed luring miners there to get rich, or is something more sinister at play? Shea does a stellar job referencing reality in this novel, making logical explanations entirely believable—at least, at first. Tethering the story to Hecla (which the epilogue confirms is a real place) works wonders here. Now, back to the weirdness… I don’t want to spoil all the nail biting surprises, but rest assured that the supernatural pandemonium will satisfy horror fans. More than one dark force lurks in those mountains. Fortunately, the preacher and hulking mute arrive to help figure it all out—two more standout characters, if you ask me. Mix in a little bit of romantic tension—and girl power—thanks to Selma’s presence, and this novel has something for everyone, not just horror enthusiasts. Also important to note: Shea isn’t afraid to infuse emotion into this book, which brings an added dimension.
Make sure you get ahold of this read, if you like edge-of-your-seat adventures. For me, the closing of the book felt too brief. I kind of wanted to get more of a sense of what happens once everything is all over, not that I don’t mind open-ended wrap ups. Those can be the best. What I’m hoping (and I’m sure I’m not alone in this) is that Shea has another installment in store for Nat and Teta…many of us will saddle up for that, for sure!