This was bloody fun! So much blood! So much fun! Well, it was fun for me as a reader. I don’t think any of the characters were enjoying themselves as I cheered on from the sidelines during their bone crunching demise.
Ashley is a final girl, the lone survivor of the Hayden Resort massacre five years ago. Since that night she has lived with debilitating PTSD and the nightmare continues for her, inescapable whether she’s awake or sleeping.
Ashley preferred the silence, for within the soundless void, she would be able to hear … things, if they came near.
Ashley’s story may have concluded with her death by suicide (this is not a spoiler – it’s in the blurb) if not for her fiancé, Todd. He only knows snippets of what Ashley and her friends endured at the hands of the Wraith but Todd is convinced Ashley has left clues that will enable him to figure out the Wraith’s identity.
Todd and some friends take it upon themselves to visit the “thousand acres of crumbling resort” to investigate further. I bet they wish they hadn’t.
This is my first Hunter Shea novel but it will definitely not be my last. I adore slasher movies so having those scenes in book form, where my imagination can take the descriptions of what the characters are experiencing and run with them, was something I’ve been looking forward to. I was not disappointed. I love visceral horror deaths and they were not in short supply here!
I was pleasantly surprised by the emotional depth conveyed alongside the gore. I had expected lots of running, frantic dialogue and some good ol’ slicing and dicing. That was all there but there was also an authentic representation of PTSD with Ashley’s character and gut wrenching grief from Todd’s.
Whenever I encounter any stories with the potential for a final girl/guy I play a game of Who Will Survive? Because this is my game and I’m weird, I have rules about how this is played. As quickly as possible after meeting each character I have to decide, based on the limited information I have at that time, whether I think they will still have a heartbeat at the end of the story or not. I’m not allowed to change my vote, regardless of how much information I come across that contradicts my initial assessment.
“Try not to get us killed. Okay?”
Naturally I played Who Will Survive? while reading Slash. Even though I now know who bled out during this “night of horror and impossibilities” I haven’t edited my first impressions to match the outcomes, so you’ll have to read the book to find out who’s still breathing.
So, with that said, who are our
Todd – fiancé of the previous final girl and a man on a mission. Even though he wanders into horror no-no territory by saying, “I’ll be right back”, he’s the main character. Surely he lives to tell the tale, right?
Heather – Ashley’s best friend before she died. She’s caring and a good friend to both Ashley and Todd. I want her to survive so she and Todd can support one another after the blood dries.
Vince – Heather’s husband. I want him to survive because Heather is so lovely and I don’t want her to experience any more grief. However, I doubt both Heather and Vince will survive, so I’m expecting Vince to die at Hayden.
Jerry – Law enforcement don’t usually fare so well in horror stories. Jerry is a misogynist cop so he may die twice, if possible.
Bill – a gambler on a diet. Depending on how strict his diet is, he may not have sufficient energy to outrun a murderer. I think his odds are fairly slim.
Sharon – her older sister, Sheri, didn’t survive the previous massacre. She’s angry and impulsive, which could work for or against her. I’d hate for her parents to lose another child to this killer but I fear she’s going to leap before she looks at an inopportune time.
Elvira – the cat. The Wraith can kill all the humans they want, as long as they don’t hurt the cat. I want to believe Elvira is still purring at the end of this book.
Taylor – not part of the core group. He’s toast!
Kaitlin – also a stranger. Sorry, Kaitlin, but you don’t stand a chance.
“You think they’re all right?” Vince asked. “No one’s screaming. That seems to be the best way to assume things are okay in this place.”
If I wasn’t currently in danger of a TBR pile avalanche I would have already started rereading this book. I’m definitely going to be on the hunt for more Hunter Shea books.
Content warnings include death by suicide, PTSD and gory death scenes.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Flame Tree Press for the opportunity to read this book. Five blood soaked stars!
Once Upon a Blurb
Five years after Ashley King survived the infamous Resort Massacre, she’s found hanging in her basement by her fiancé, Todd Matthews. She left behind clues as to what really happened that night, clues that may reveal the identity of the killer the press has called The Wraith.
With the help of his friends, Todd goes back to the crumbling Hayden Resort, a death-tinged ruin in the Catskills Mountains. What they find is a haunted history that’s been lying in wait for a fresh set of victims. The Wraith is back, and he’s nothing what they expected.