Buddy Read Book Review: Ghost Mine
Recently I was approached by Janine Pipe, friend and fellow book lover from across the pond, who asked if I’d like to do a buddy read with her. I absolutely love doing buddy reads, and Janine is awesome, so of course I said yes! In choosing a book to read we quickly discerned that I had never read anything by horror author Hunter Shea, and that she is indeed a Shea fanatic. We both happened to have a copy of his book Ghost Mine and the rest is history (or rather, it’s detailed below).
Before I go on, if you’re not familiar with Janine and her work then you’re sorely missing out! She’s a boon to the horror book community and a seriously cool person. Not only does she write great reviews and interview lots of great authors on her website (https://janinesghoststories.wordpress.com/), but she also has an active social media presence on Instagram and Twitter and if you join her Patreon then she’ll kill you in an original short story. Woah! Oh and she also co-hosts the podcast/YouTube channel Cryptids, Crypts, and Coffee (because of course she does).
Now, on to the reviews! I’ll lead with Janine (lady’s first) and then follow up with my own. One thing I love about joint reviews is seeing the voice and personality of the other reviewer (if you want to see the gifs I highly recommend you checking out the version she posted on her own website HERE). I’ll let you see if you can spot any differences between our reviews 🙂
SUMMARY: 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. 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.
I think that I have read enough of Hunter’s works by now to pretty much know and love his style of writing.
There are also some rules that I have quickly learnt.
a) NEVER get too attached to any character no matter how integral you imagine them to be to the plot.
b) Always expected the unexpected.
c) Strap yourself in and it is going to be a fast and continuous wild ride.
A lot of people write slow burns and that is fine. With Hunter however, it is all business all the time.
And I bloody love it.
Ghost Mine inevitably caused me to draw some comparison to one of my most favourite books, Desperation because of the mine setting.
But I am happy to report that Hunter’s amazing writing was able to easily match King, in my opinion.
And that is what this review is of course, MY opinion. And just to be clear, if for some reason you hadn’t picked up on it yet, Hunter is one of my two all time favourite writers. And the second ain’t King.
So what can I say about this book without giving too much away?
We start with two chaps sent to the arse end of nowhere on a mission from the president. That would be Teddy Roosevelt so it’s the 1900’s and this is yee-ha cowboy territory. On the way they meet a purdee lady. And when they arrive in Hecla, all hell breaks loose …
It is creepy, funny, scary, interesting, entertaining and hella good.
Around half way through we get two more reprobates introduced and thankfully they add to the already rich dynamic beautifully rather than hinder it with too many cooks.
Now, when I say that the shit reallllllllllllly hits the fan and never lets up, I mean it. We are talking full throttle, foot to the floor all out action right up until the last pages.
I could spend this entire review just telling you how much I love Hunter but as I am already well on my way to quoting good ol’ Annie …
“I am your number one fan. There is nothing to worry about. You are going to be just fine. I am your number one fan!”
Ahem, where were we?
I will just say this. Hunter has never disappointed me. He thrills and chills me and if I ever think ‘hey, I know where this is going’, I am given a metaphorical slap for being a know-it-all and of course proven totally wrong. Which I like.
As Ben says in his review I’ll have to get back to you with the bad points. But you’ll be waiting a long-ass time.
Ghost Mine is full of cliff hangers and plenty of what the fuck??? Moments.
All in all I bloody loved it.
What do I not see enough of in books? Horror stories full of scares and violence set in the old American West featuring spooky abandoned (or not) gold mines and a climactic fight of Biblical proportions. How do I know I need more of this? Because I just finished Hunter Shea’s Ghost Mine and loved every second of it!
The tale is about two immediately likable rough-and-tough leads, Nat and Teta, who team up to explore a mysteriously abandoned mining town in Wyoming at the behest of President Roosevelt. Nat is an aging ex-soldier/ex-cop, and Teta is his Dominican sidekick who has been with him through thick and thin. Together they have survived insurmountable odds, but this latest assignment is beyond anything they’ve ever seen.
I absolutely love these two characters, and I was onboard from their very first wisecrack and background story. Their violent tendencies and slight insanity would seem a little much in a normal story, but these are exactly the characteristics that may help them survive the horrors in the mines. Nat in particular is given a lot of depth and complexity in his character, and I found it quite easy to sympathize with him along the way. Teta is very much the sidekick painted in broader strokes, but he’s still an integral part of the story and is given moments to shine. Nat needs him, and so do we.
I also love the pacing in the story. Shea does an amazing job of building suspense; slowly peeling back layers of the mystery while also peppering the story with moments of dread or outright fear. It really kept me on my toes trying to guess what would happen next, and I love all of the twists and elements that I did NOT expect (unfortunately I can’t discuss them here because they’re spoilers, but also because this book works best going in with no expectations). Is the story about ghosts, monsters, creatures, demons, or something else? The answer is yes, and that’s all I’ll say.
More things I liked? Okay! How about the two characters that were introduced halfway through that made for an intriguing dynamic to the cast, or literally any creepy part set down in the mine shafts (seriously, I’m afraid of the dark and claustrophobic, and Shea’s brilliant writing made these scenes all too visceral and terrifying)? How about the blend of mythology, folklore, and the supernatural? Or the way almost every chapter ends in a cliffhanger (I’ve never seen so many ways to say “and suddenly things got a whole lot worse”)? I could go on, but I won’t. And things I didn’t like? Ummmm I’m going to have to get back to you.
If you wanted to make comparisons you could use The Descent, Bone Tomahawk, Constantine, The Lone Ranger, Scooby Doo, and Indiana Jones – but then throw them away because none of them do this story justice. Instead you need to stop everything, go get this book, and then buckle up because it’s a hell of a ride. This is my first time reading Hunter Shea and I’m hooked! Excuse me while I go get everything else he has ever written!
Again, thank you SO MUCH to Janine for doing this buddy read and review with me! Also stay tuned for a guest spot I did on Janine’s Youtube channel, where I share some more of my thoughts and we ask Hunter Shea some questions!! I’ll come back and link that when it’s up.