CREATURE surprised me. I’ve only read one Hunter Shea book, THE JERSEY DEVIL, and that thing was pure madness from beginning to end with its out of control body count and frenetic pace. I was expecting a crazed people eating monster to pop out of the woods and eat everyone and the pup before moving on to town and slaying more innocents but this is a completely different type of horror story. This one is about the physical and emotional toll an incurable disease has on a woman and those who love her. It’s slower paced and allows the dread to slowly creep in as the characters face an ever present and unconquerable monster.
Kate has Lupus and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, both are incurable diseases that are managed with pain medication and surgery to fix body parts as they break down. The diseases and multiple surgeries have all but stolen her life. She’s housebound with her dog Buttons and a devoted husband who has turned into her caretaker. After a grueling trial of an experimental treatment, Andrew takes a leave of absence from work and surprises Kate with a getaway to a cabin in Maine where she can recuperate and they can spend some quality time together with Buttons. But it’s not long before strange events begin to taint their tranquility.
This book was incredibly hard to for me to read. My sister and two family members suffer from EDS, have all had multiple surgeries and were all disabled in their 30’s. Shea’s portrayal of Kate’s pain was heartbreaking and grueling and viciously accurate based on everything I’ve heard and seen. This is why it was a difficult read for me but I imagine it will be the same for most anybody who picks up this book because it is a punishing depiction of chronic pain, that insidious destroyer of lives.
If you’re looking for a stomp ‘n’ chomp this isn’t it, for the most part, but it isn’t any less of a horror novel than The Jersey Devil. It’s a different kind of horror novel. One that is slower paced and thoughtful and full of all the emotions. There is so much pain and suffering and guilt and love that when the slow creeping dread begins to interfere on the couple’s idyllic sabbatical, you’ll need to hang on tight to your heart. It’s breathtaking how well the author weaves it all together. I wasn’t expecting this type of story at all but I wasn’t disappointed. Very highly recommend if you enjoy a book that’ll tear you to pieces.