It was a Friday when I started reading Swamp Monster Massacre. The day hadn’t been stellar; I was supposed to meet friends for lunch, and I got so lost, I ended up missing lunch and just heading back to the office with a soggy sandwich from a nearby cafe. To cheer myself up, I decided to take a quick peek at Hunter Shea’s newest novella. An hour later, I remembered where I was. I sent Hunter an email telling him I was strongly considering spending the afternoon reading – even if it meant I got fired. Swamp Monster Massacre is that good. I can’t think of another book that keeps such a frenetic pace and still tells a riveting story that hangs together better than a band of angry swamp apes. I ended up getting back to work (and, yes, staying late to make up the time I lost driving around who-knows-where-Austin)…. but the story had me in thrall. Horror fans, rejoice! Swamp Monster Massacre is the action-adventure blood’n’guts fix you’ve been craving!
He resembled every childhood nightmare of the bogeyman, except this one murdered the monster under your bed.
How bad do things have to be for the bogeyman to be the good guy? That is the question posed by Hunter Shea in Swamp Monster Massacre. The answer is a swift tour of an Everglades hell that includes violently severed limbs, a rotten stench, a masterfully disgusting combination of necrophilia and bestiality, and death. Lots of death. Swamp Monster Massacre is a breathless amalgam of action and horror with a higher than average gore content, but it is also an examination of the dark nature of revenge.
Rooster has a temper. A damn bad temper that’s caused him to put his fist through another man’s skull. Sure, it wouldn’t have killed the guy if he hadn’t done all that blow and rotted his own skull, but the simple fact is that Rooster killed a drug kingpin’s son. And what are drug kingpins notorious for if not avenging the death of their own? Rooster’s got a problem.
He’s also got a bag of money and a bigger bag of guns.
Rooster’s on the run in Florida, and he ends up on a pier. A amphibious tour plane is docked at the end, loaded up with tourists waiting to get a bird’s eye view of the Everglades. They get Rooster instead; Rooster and a barrage of bullets fired by angry drug dealers.
The passenger manifest is varied. There are two co-eds, blonde as the Doublemint twins and trained in Marine combat technique. A pair of slickly groomed guys from NYC are tough talkers. A couple of empty-nest snow-birds are trying to rekindle their romance. There’s a dork, skipping out on a conference. The guest list is rounded out by the grizzled pilot, who is no longer captain of his airship. Throw in Rooster with his guns, and things are about to get wild.
All of these characters have names, but there isn’t any need to know names in this story. Not only are names meaningless when fighting for your life, they are also meaningless if you lose that fight. Lots of characters lose, but not because they mutiny against Rooster and cause the plane to crash.
They lose because they crash land in the territory of the skunk apes, reeking beasts eight-feet tall and twice a brutal. These are the titular swamp monsters, and they live up to their terrifying name and stench. They hunt the humans, employing amazing battle tactics that will leave you in awe of both Shea’s inventiveness and his ability to make even the insanely bizarre believable.
(((( SPOILER ALERT: Read at own risk! ))))
(((( To read, left click and drag mouse over white space. ))))
The swamp monsters aren’t just picking on the humans because they have trespassed. They are attacking for revenge. When the plane crashed, it mauled and killed a swamp monster child. Mommy is mad, and all the child monster’s big brothers and sisters have joined Mommy’s hunt. This echoes the kingpin’s henchmen slavering to kill Rooster because he accidentally murdered one of their own. When it comes down to bloody revenge, no one in this book comes out looking any better than a monster. One of the NYC boys is taken by the swamp monsters early, and his friend becomes a blind instrument of revenge, taking stupid chances that cost him his life. Shea doesn’t sugar coat his view on revenge: it turns you into an animal. A stupid animal.
If you like monster stories, action movies, and some really fun lines, this is an excellent book for you. The point of view hops between characters, which prevents you from getting too invested in any one scenario, but that plays into the frenetic tempo of the tale well enough that it is a strength rather than a fault. Like the single-minded intent of revenge, Swamp Monster Massacre is a fast-paced read that doesn’t let up.