Book Review – Broken Shells by Michael Patrick Hicks

broken shells

I went into this fine novella blind. I’d bought it a while back and added it to the massive TBR pile and as such, had forgotten what it was about.

I think I did things right, though because if I’d have known what was about to unfold before my eyes I imagine it would have lessened the impact.

This story was short, horrifying, and a lot of fun. Think The Midnight Meat Train but with a bit more thought behind the logistics.

Antoine isn’t having the best of times. He’s lost his job, hasn’t got much money, and has been seriously considering walking out on his girl and baby for a while now. So when his lazy lady finds a winning scratchcard from a car dealership in the paper, she’s convinced their luck is changing.

To claim their prize, a wary Antoine must visit this strange dealership on the outskirts of town. It’s then that things turn crazy.

Shortly after arriving there, after the obligatory paperwork, Antoine is led to a room in the back, drugged, and thrown down some stairs into the eery basement. And this is all done by the owner. What a way to lose out on a potential sale! And it certainly seems Antoine isn’t going to be getting his prize anytime soon. When he awakes he is encased in a tough cocoon-thing, surrounded by darkness and the horrifying sounds of creepy monsters. These things sound hungry.

Yes, poor Antoine has been specially selected to be sacrificed to a hive of giant-carnivorous-insect-monster-bastards. But it seems he’s not the first.

I’m not going to give anything away because this bloody ride is one you need to go on yourself. Antoine must fight for survival against these creatures, and takes many an injury along the way, all described with wince-inducing clarity.

We are also treated to folklore of the monsters as well as the reason for the whole sacrifice thing, which only adds to the terrors on display.

Whilst trying to escape this cavernous tomb, Antione begins to realise he loves his family more than anything, and certainly more than he ever thought. This motivation for freedom is so well captured that you really find yourself cheering him on as he battles these frightening chitinous abominations.

The gore is perfect and the descriptions of the beasts shockingly vivid. A few toe curls were made by me as I devoured this novella in two sittings.

I was intrigued how it would all end, and wondered whether Hicks would go where I hoped he would. And he did! This is just the kind of ending I enjoy in my horror stories.

If you like bodily fluids erupting, fast-paced action exploding, and giant insects, erm, insecting, then check this gem out. Just make sure you bath yourself afterwards because you’re bound to feel a little but icky!

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1 reply

  1. Giant insects . . . sounds like a scary read to take on a camping trip!


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