Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Review: Lost Hunters, Second Edition by Deanne Devine

Lost Hunters, Second Edition

29540857"Amberly County would be a great place to live if it weren't for this stupid curse."
Jake Nichols, televised interview, "Peculiar People and Places." WYOY TV, May 28, 1979.

The tale of John Barker's Hunt has been handed down for generations in Amberly County. Stories about the Hunt are mostly told around campfires, but there are some who claim it to be true. According to the old timers, the county is cursed, and once every generation the ghost of John Barker returns to hunt down the person who killed him. Oddly enough, roughly every 20 years the county does suffer a cluster of bizarre deaths. 

Nineteen years have passed since the last Hunt, but the citizens of the quiet town of Miltonville are too absorbed in their own problems to take notice. Cindy Swift is preoccupied with her upcoming suicide; Troy Ivers is worrying about the midnight ceremony he plans to hold in a rural cemetery; and Leslie Vickers is very concerned that the mannequin down the hall wants to kill her. 

Ed Philips is the one person in Amberly County who is aware that trouble is about to arrive. It approaches in the form of a phantom, walking in the body of a dead man. Ed knows the real story behind the legend of the Hunt, but has spent most of his life denying the truth. Now, with the fate of a young woman in his hands, he must decide whether to continue feeding his demons of cowardice and regret, or face them head on, and attempt to put an end to John Barker's Hunt. 

My Take:
Every 20 years or so, Amberly County experienced a brief and puzzling string of deaths, linked, at least in some people's minds, to the massacre of John Barker and his bizarre commune over 200 years ago. Legend has it that Barker returns every 20 years to hunt down and kill the descendants of his old rival, Lucas Vanderkellen. 

Only Ed Phillips knows the truth, a truth he has been denying his entire life, a truth involving Leslie, daughter of his best friend, who was brutally murdered in the last hunt. Entrusted with the only means to end the deadly killing sprees carried on by the tormented angry spirit of John Barker, Ed must confront his own inner demons and defeat John Barker once and for all, before Barker regains his life and releases a horde of demons on an unsuspecting world.


Drug Content:
R - There is a tremendous amount of underage drinking and drinking to excess by most of the cast. It would almost appear to be the norm in this county. Marijuana is almost as common as the alcohol, harder drugs also make their appearance, and a stolen drug shipment plays a pivotal part in backstory. 

R - The ghosts possess individuals, who end up dying during possession. The ghosts continue to animate the dead until they are unable to move. Most of the deaths do not involve blood, and appear to be brain aneurysms. One character's neck is snapped, several are shot, but most just... die.

G - While some of the things said seem pretty violent, curse words are almost completely absent.

Adult Content:
PG-13 - A drug scene involves a man coming home to his naked girlfriend and her naked friend. Several couples pair off for a tryst, but their antics don't appear on screen. Several affairs are discussed, a marriage is dissolved because of infidelity. One minor character is addicted to porn and is heavily harassed by a flock of demons. 

Christian content:
YES. I originally would not have thought so, and much of the book seemed so dark it was irredeemably demonic, several characters overcome the demonic influences by the power of Christ. Demons and angels fight in the spiritual realm, the afterlife is clearly discussed, the existence of God and the power of forgiveness, redemption, and self-sacrifice play central roles. The perils of a life yielded to demonic influence and inebriation show up in stark relief, and satanic rituals, curses, tarot cards show up, but are cast in a negative light.

Final analysis:
Not gonna lie, this is a horror story, and is pretty dark. The people throughout the story are alcoholics, drug addicts, and seem almost hopeless in their meandering through life in this small town. The evil ghosts, the satanic ritual close to the beginning, the depression, almost had me put this one down. But several scenes in the story gave me a glimmer of hope for it, and I kept plowing through to the exciting and glorious end. Glad I kept at it.

While the story was good and the action was gripping, the stakes were very high and the scenery well-developed, I found the characters to be a bit two-dimensional, and the pace a bit slow. I found the second half to be gripping, and hard to put down. The pace was racing at the finish, and the action enthralling, but not enough to give this one more than Four Stars.

About the Author:
Deanne Devine is a native of southwestern Ohio, a region rich in the everyday peculiarities and ordinary oddness that make good food for an overactive imagination. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in several small press magazines, back in the day when such publications actually came from a small press, and the original editions of her novels Lost Hunters and Live Armadillos were published in trade paperback by The Lighthouse Press, Inc. Currently, she is working on the ebook version of Live Armadillos, as well as filling her desk drawers with screenplays and short stories.

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