Dominic knew instantly that this was a literal monster,
and to his surprise he had no problem accepting it...
Publisher: Home Of The Damned
Book Links: Goodreads
I love a traditional monster horror; the simple man vs beast battle that always seems utterly hopeless. Sunburn, is exactly what the doctor ordered. It fulfills my credentials and then some. Mr Dash (Shan) can not only create a thrilling horror, but the kinds of characters, depth and quality with which he completes the novel bring it to a much higher level.
Also, the author's trademark visceral horror, which, I assure you will make you gag, is out in full force.
And as a further warning, one I first stated in Dash's (Shan's) other work, The Evil And The Pure, Sunburn is definitely not for those on the younger side...
Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)
Dominic, Martini and Curran have only one concern: Sunburn.
Their plan to explore a foreign land seems to only be threatened by fighting between the three.
But as they'll learn, light can turn to dark.
And the dark holds terrors the likes of which the trio have never faced...
Plot - 5/5 Stars
The overall story is quite simple: A legendary monster is discovered by a hapless group. I've read many stories with this plot, and Mr Dash (Shan) still manages to forge a unique and nostalgic corner for himself. To start off, we actually have glimpses from the monsters' perspectives. We view the world through their eyes for short snippets of the story.
While it adds a refreshing side to the novel, it works wonders for the beginning of the book. Initially, there's not much in the way of horror or action; so while the author builds the characters, the monster parts help give the plot the tension and suspense it needs to keep the reader invested.
But, oh boy, when the characters catch on with you. Their personalities, their interactions, their highs and lows, are absolutely fascinating. Mr Dash (Shan) creates a palate full of colours, and you're helpless not to immerse yourself in them; to take sides, form opinions.
Then the creature enters the fold.
The big bad of the book is visually interesting. You'll know what I mean when you read it. Things blow up at that point: Action, screams of joy, sorrow, undiluted horror. You know, the works of any great story. We get it all.
I'm also in love with the ending. For a minute, I had no idea which way the author would slice it. Would the end be hopeful? Or utterly devastating? It's both in different ways, but with a healthy serving of the former, which makes me immeasurably happy.
Pace - 4/5 Stars
While fine for the most part, I do find that the pace suffers sometimes from stilted scenes. Some interactions between our cast fall short of the mark, and some of those scenes last far too long.
Otherwise the author's signature fast-paced style is there. With a great story and extremely engaging characters, you can't go wrong.
Characters - 5/5 Stars
An awesome bunch of people reside within Sunburn, and you don't need to like them to love them.
We have our trio of explorers, who serve as our mains: Dominic (who is more or less the predominant viewpoint), Martini (Dominic's girlfriend) and Curran (Dominic's best friend).
Dominic, poor Dominic. He faces the brunt of almost every bad thing in the book. From the mental torture of balancing his girlfriend with his best friend, to the physical torture he endures, Dominic, faces it all. As a character, despite the way Martini and Curran play him, he's quite intelligent. He's brave, loyal etc., but that's tempered with some cowardice in the face of menial troubles like his arguments with Martini. He doesn't much like confrontation, but proves he's capable with handling it. I love the way sunburn is a factor he needs to contend with during the novel, especially as we see the debilitating effects it has on him.
Martini polarised me. In fact, I'm not a fan of her much (referring to my earlier comment about not needing to like a character to love their inclusion). She's fiery and vocal, and while these sound like strong traits, I got tired of them fast. There's a nastiness to her that borders on unnecessary. There are redeeming traits of course: She does show herself to be extremely kind and compassionate. The line between her love and rage is very fine. The part of her personality that irks me most, is of course her treatment of Dominic. Despite her good points, and the hopeful ending, she's very abusive. Not just mentally and emotionally, but physically as well. At one point she actually punches Dominic for something so unimportant that I winced.
Not that I'd have her written any other way, because, believe it or not, it's hyper-realistic. I've seen it happen, and I don't condone it. No one should ever hit another person, but I hate when someone uses love or 'supposed' frailness to get away with hurting another person.
Curran is just cheeky. He has no filter, not for his words or his actions. He's also very intelligent, but while Dominic seems unaware of his smarts, Curran knows about his own all too well. He manipulates people, not badly, but he acts, simply put, dumber, than he is to lower people's expectations, effectively giving him the advantage.
The three main characters mesh well. Despite not being there for their histories, Mr Dash (Shan) does a stellar job of convincing the reader that they have them. The three are natural around one another and are greatly familiar.
Writing - 5/5 Stars
Sunburn is engaging, interesting and truly well-written.The scenes are horrific and visceral. The story flows like a dream, and the characters are diverse, divisive and distinct.
Overall - 4.5/5 Stars
One thing this novel will have you doing - apart from biting your nails in anticipation and terror - is slathering on protection from the sun.
Oh, and avoiding any areas with trees...
For more Darren Dash (Shan) reviews: Index
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