Tuesday, 9 May 2017

What Lies Below

What Lies Below

by Donald G. Firesmith

4 out of 5

It’s August in Alaska, and geology professor Jack Oswald prepares for the new school year. But when hundreds of huge holes mysteriously appear overnight in the frozen tundra north of the Arctic Circle, Jack receives an unexpected phone call. An oil company exec hires Jack to investigate, and he picks his climatologist wife and two of their graduate students as his team. Uncharacteristically, Jack also lets Aileen O’Shannon, a bewitchingly beautiful young photojournalist, talk him into coming along as their photographer. When they arrive in the remote oil town of Deadhorse, the exec and a biologist to protect them from wild animals join the team. Their task: to assess the risk of more holes opening under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the wells and pipelines that feed it. But they discover a far worse danger lurks below. When it emerges, it threatens to shatter Jack’s unshakable faith in science. And destroy us all…

Geologist Jack is invited to investigate some mysterious holes, with the rest of his team. What these experts are about to witness is beyond any imagination.

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is a written account from Jack Oswald - a survivor and first-hand witness of the day the Hellholes unleashed... hell.
Jack is a geology professor, and as such his story is very science-based. This is awesome for fellow geeks like me; it's rare that you get a fictional book that portrays science and blends it with the high-fantasy of demons.
The downside is that the story has a neutral and observatory feel about it. There are a lot of detailed descriptions over buildings, paths, potential issues and things I hadn't even thought to think of. The setting is laid out in full, to allow the characters to run through it later. Which can be a positive or negative, depending on your point of view.
Personally, I would have liked to have seen the descriptions worked into more natural conversations, queries, or Jack's curiosity. I felt that some sections slowed the narrative, because it was preemptively filling any plotholes and covering as many bases as possible, before moving onto the action.

The action was actually great, I really loved it. The demons that come out of the hellholes are monsters lurking in the shadows, building tension on where and when they are going to strike.
They are violent and unforgiving beasts, and you can believe there is an oncoming apocalypse.

The rest of the characters were alright. My favourite was easily Aileen O'Shannon, she's a woman on her own mission and as much as you know she is on your side, she's also very unpredictable and lacks some humanity. But after what she's seen and done in her long life, it's not hard to believe that she would quickly discount those dead or dying.
The others lacked any real distinction. They all seemed to merge into one and were all very agreeable to every suggestion. There was no humour, no annoyances, nothing that made them stand out. You could tell that the focus of this story was on the science and the demon attack.

What Lurks Below is a relatively short story, but ends with a bang.
Definitely a cliff-hanger, but I found it a good one, how it was all nice and normal, and then dropped a hint before ending.
Overall, this was about 3.5 out of 5 for me, and I look forward to the next part of the series.

Goodreads link
Amazon UK

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