Broken Shells by Michael Patrick Hicks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When down on his luck mechanic Antoine DeWitt gets something in the mail saying he won $5,000 from the local car dealership, he has his doubts but his wife, baby, and mounting bills make him go to claim it anyway. The worst that can happen is that he doesn't get any money, right?
WRONG! The owner of the car dealership is part of a generations-long pact, sacrificing people who won't be missed to an alien evil that lurks beneath the ground! Can Antoine escape with his skin intact or will he join the rest of those that have vanished over the years?
Michael Patrick Hicks was the 2017 recipient of the coveted Dantastic Book Award for Goodreads Author Who Doesn't Suck. I saw on the twitter that he had a novella coming out in February and hit him up. Let's just say Michael might be the first two time winner of the Goodreads Author Who Doesn't Suck award because this was pretty damn good!
Broken Shells is a novella of desperation, both on the part of Antoine DeWitt and Jon Dangle. Antoine lost his job and his wife Channy is on his ass to find another one when he gets the Money Carlo flyer from the car dealership saying he's won $5,000, he's just desperate enough to go down there. Jon Dangle, on the other hand, is desperate for a different reason. For generations, his family has been responsible for keeping subterranean monsters in check by throwing them a victim every once in a while.
Claustrophobic carnage is the name of the game. Antoine wakes up in bad shape and things only get worse. Tight spaces, gore, and inhuman horrors infest the pages. There are no training wheels or hand holding during this read. There were a few times I thought "Mike, you sick bastard!" Not only is it ghastly fun, it's very well written, carrying none of the things I loath about a lot of self-published or small press horror. It's very well edited and professional, slick and seamless.
The ending was a little bleaker than I'd like, though I had a feeling it was headed that way. All in all, Broken Shells is an exceptional horror novella. Four out of five stars.
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