{Book Review} Shelter For The Damned: Mike Thorn

Shelter For The Damned: Mike Thorn

Reviewed By J.A. Sullivan

Every year around film awards season, I find myself scrambling, making sure I haven’t missed watching any of the nominated movies. These are supposed to represent the best of the best, so my expectations are high. Then, almost without fail, I’m utterly disappointed – not at the ultimate winners, but by the nominees in general. Movies that are championed as superb, cerebral, and unflinching, just don’t seem to do it for me. That probably says more about my personal taste than a critique of the accolade process, and keep that in mind, because the same thing can happen to me with books.

After reading the synopsis of Shelter for the Damned by Mike Thorn, I was pumped to crack that novel open. Troubled teens, suburban violence, and a terrifying, sentient building – yes, please! And once advanced rave reviews began pouring in, I was even more excited. Sadly, however, my experience with this book was reminiscent of being disappointed by award-nominated films.

The story follows Mark who stumbles across an abandoned shack in suburbia when he and some friends are looking for a place to smoke cigarettes. All three teens are both drawn to and repulsed by the mysterious building they could have sworn wasn’t there before. But from the first time Mark steps inside, the shack becomes an obsession. Like an addict, he needs to go back as often as he can, and by the time he realizes the entity of the shack expects something sinister in return he’s helpless to resist.

Much of the novel is spent with Mark being isolated, but I never got a deep insight to his character. Something changed within him before the story begins, leading down a path where he’s constantly filled with rage, and I felt it was a missed opportunity that his backstory wasn’t explored, especially given the amount of time spent with only him and his thoughts. Through conversations with his parents, it’s revealed that at one point Mark was receiving counseling, however the reason why his sessions began or ended is never discussed.

My experience with the other characters wasn’t much different. From the parents to the other teenagers in the story, they all felt self-absorbed and hollow, with stilted dialogue. I don’t have a problem with unlikeable characters as long as there is something that explains their motivations. As a reader, I want to gain an understanding of what the characters hope to gain or avoid, and I felt this was lacking throughout the story.

However, I did find some fantastic passages and descriptions throughout the book, and that’s what kept me reading to the end. Brawls between Mark and another student were tense and captured the gut-wrenching brutality that can consume teenaged boys. There were also a few scenes where Mark comes face to face with the cosmic entity from the shack which were supremely creepy. One of my favourite lines was from a nightmare Mark has of this being, and screams “…Until he’d screamed sound itself into extinction.”

Unfortunately, these terrific sections weren’t enough to fill the void I felt with the rest of the book.

Shelter For The Damned

While looking for a secret place to smoke cigarettes with his two best friends, troubled teenager Mark discovers a mysterious shack in a suburban field. Alienated from his parents and peers, Mark finds within the shack an escape greater than anything he has ever experienced.

But it isn’t long before the place begins revealing its strange, powerful sentience. And it wants something in exchange for the shelter it provides.

Shelter for the Damned is not only a scary, fast-paced horror novel, but also an unflinching study of suburban violence, masculine conditioning, and adolescent rage.

You can buy Shelter For The Damned from Amazon UK & Amazon US

J.A. Sullivan

J. A. Sullivan is a horror writer and paranormal enthusiast, based in Brantford, ON, Canada. Attracted to everything non-horror folks consider strange, she’s spent years as a paranormal investigator, has an insatiable appetite for serial killer information, and would live inside a library if she could.

As curator of “Scary’s Voices” on Kendall Reviews, an article series reviewing horror podcasts, Sullivan loves listening to all things spooky. If you have a horror podcast recommendation, let her know.

On top of contributing short stories to Kendall Reviews, her fiction has appeared in Don’t Open the Door (2019), It Came From The Darkness (2020), and she acted as an assistant editor for Black Dogs, Black Tales (2020). Other spooky tales and updates on her writing journey can be found on her blog.

You can follow J. A. on Twitter @ScaryJASullivan

Check out her blog https://writingscaredblog.wordpress.com

Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/j.a_sullivan

Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/j.a_sullivan

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.