SHELTER FOR THE DAMNED
By Mike Thorn
Published by JournalStone
Available February 2021
There’s been a lot of love for this short novel at the time of writing this, so I feel a bit awkward having to report more opposition than my fellow readers. That being said, I am by no means about to tell you I disliked this book. It’s just I had some issues that dampered the experience for me.
I think my biggest issues came during the first 40% of Shelter for the Damned. I felt like very little happened, aside from friends constantly fighting and cursing at each other. I also found the two fathers highlighted in this story to be over the top and unrealistic. It’s one thing to have one father that is sadistic and evil, but two? It seemed a bit much, like the author was trying to pile on. I also thought their dialogue and actions were comical at times, like they were overacting. And why did the boys feel the need to break into a shack at all in the beginning? They were smoking out in a field. It seemed forced, not necessary.
Now, let me move onto the positives. Once I got half way into this novel and things began to pick up, they came fast and furious. The intensity definitely cranks up, even if I expected more action than what we get in the end. The dialogue becomes less annoying, the scenes more frantic, and the world more sideways and questionable. The bizarre cosmic feel you get at times is just tops, leaving you to wonder how much of the violence and aggression is really due to the shack’s evil presence. Also, as a whole, the writing is very good in this novel.
Even if my experience with Shelter for the Damned wasn’t as powerful as it was for others, I still found enough to enjoy that I would like to read Mike Thorn again. If you like stories about dysfunctional families and the violence they can spawn, look no further than this novel.
Highlights: The second half of the novel picks up at a break-neck speed … a vague ending that is strong and haunting
Shadows: Overacting parents … some annoying dialogue … some unclear moments, like why a murderer was ever highlighted if he was never put to use in the story?
FFO: Dysfunctional family drama and horror … rough characters that become unhinged
Takeaway: Despite my share of complaints, I found Thorn’s writing to show great promise. Shelter for the Damned introduced me to an author to watch, at the very least.
Would I read this author again? Yes