Thanks to NetGalley and Flame Tree Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: September 6th, 2018
Synopsis: The monsters live inside of Kate Woodson. Chronic pain and a host of autoimmune diseases have robbed her of a normal, happy life. Her husband Andrew’s surprise of their dream Maine lake cottage for the summer is the gift of a lifetime. It’s beautiful, remote, idyllic, a place to heal. But they are not alone. Something is in the woods, screeching in the darkness, banging on the house, leaving animals for dead. Just like her body, Kate’s cottage becomes her prison. She and Andrew must fight to survive the creature that lurks in the dead of night.
I’ve read quite a few books by Hunter Shea and I know I can always rely on his stories to be fun, totally insane horror mixed with subtly sly humor. Creature is completely different, in that it’s more character driven, and it’s one that will reach many readers at a deeply personal level.
For fans of his books, I have to caution the “monster” doesn’t really rear its head until the last third of the book. There’s obviously something going on as poor Kate and Andrew try to enjoy their getaway, but the usual blood and gore doesn’t come into play until the latter part of the book. Instead, the main focus is on Kate and her battles against several autoimmune disorders including Lupus and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome that have impacted her life in some truly horrible ways. The author writes Kate with such emotion I knew even before reading the afterward, that he must know someone who suffer from these debilitating illnesses. I have to be honest and say this isn’t the easiest read, especially if you struggle with chronic pain and illness. While Kate is far sicker than I am, I connected with her completely and there were several scenes where I was reduced to tears. Andrew is Kate’s soulmate in every sense of the word. He tries so hard to help his wife and his worry, frustration, and love are palpable. Their relationship in the face of such hardship is the backbone of this story.
The ending is not happily-ever-after, but then Hunter Shea’s books rarely are. This one was especially difficult for me though because I loved the characters so much and became personally invested in them. In my opinion, Creature is Hunter Shea’s best novel to date and that’s really saying something. If you choose to pick this up, make sure to read the afterward as it’ll make you understand how and why this story came about.