book review, horror, Hunter Shea

Forest of Shadows by Hunter Shea

I had an urge to read a Hunter Shea book, so I thought I’d treat myself to Forest of Shadows. It didn’t disappoint.

Starring the same character as The Graveyard Speaks, the free novella you get when you subscribe to the author’s newsletter, Forest of Shadows introduces Jessica Backman as a child.

After a massive lottery win, widower John Backman indulges his love of the mysterious by becoming a paranormal investigator, while raising his daughter Jessica with the help of sister in law Eve, and Eve’s toddler, Liam.

When an email from a man about a haunted house promises paranormal gold, John and his family travel to Alaska to investigate. However, be careful what you wish for because you might just get it.

This is such a great book. I absolutely loved it.

One of the reasons I keep going back to Shea’s books is because of his appreciation of suffering. He writes so well about characters who have lost, or who understand that sacrifice is a part of love. His characters, no matter their background, circumstances or abilities, are always human and written with respect. He also writes about topics I’m obsessed with, such as cryptids and paranormal phenomena.

John Backman is the hero of this novel (Jessica is only five years old, but still a great character) and I absolutely love him! He has an anxiety disorder, and Shea describes it so well. I really empathized with John, with his struggles and his interest in the paranormal. I enjoyed every moment reading about him.

The majority of the book takes place in a little town in Alaska, and I loved the setting. The local characters are all written so well. They’re real people, and the dynamics of the town were unfortunately all too familiar. The fact that new residents to the town were ‘outsiders’ and would remain so until they died, no matter how many decades they lived there, reminded me of my mother’s experience of moving from the city to a village after her marriage, and how she was always regarded as ‘the blow in’. The setting also allowed for lots of description of the natural beauty of the state, and I loved the isolated way of life that the locals lived.

The plot touches on some deep, complex themes, which Shea handled well. There are some great chilling scenes, and the entire novel has a spooky atmosphere that builds to a stunning, emotional climax. I loved the paranormal elements to the book and how they manifested. Shea expertly navigated the fine line between keeping the paranormal elements believable and frightening without tipping over into over the top territory that was inconsistent with the story world.

This book ticked all the boxes for me. I absolutely loved it. I can’t wait to read the next in the series.

I award Forest of Shadows

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