Hunter Shea’s latest is a romp through the Pine Barrens of New Jersey with multiple twists, layers, and additions to the mythos of The Jersey Devil.
I’ve lived in Southeastern Pennsylvania most of my life. It’s close enough to South Jersey that I’ve grown up fascinated by the tall tales of The Jersey Devil. As a result, I come to Hunter Shea’s new book with a firm grasp on all of the hearsay from over the years. While Hunter keeps the history of the legend intact, he really uses those stories as a starting point for his own tale, which makes anything you may have heard before look like a child’s bedtime story.
The Jersey Devil begins five years ago with Jane Moreland and her abusive husband, Henry. Henry’s lying on the floor, dead, having hit his head on the coffee table when he tripped while taking a swing at his wife during one of his drunken stupors. Serves the bastard right. Out of fear of the police, Jane wraps Henry’s body in a tarp and takes it deep into the Pine Barrens to bury it. What happens next is just the beginning of a non-stop thrill ride.
As a writer, Hunter Shea leaves it all on the written page, as bloody as it may be. I liked the immediate action in the story, but then a slow build to an even bigger payoff. Some of the descriptions of the attacks which take place are exceedingly violent and visceral. There are numerous twists, each one darker than the last. This is not a story for the squeamish, but the rest of us can certainly enjoy the gut-wrenching monster mayhem.
Strongly recommended—just not around mealtime, unless you’re looking to lose your appetite or bring up your lunch if you’ve already eaten.