Thank you to Permuted Press and TLC Book Tours for inviting me to participate in this blog tour and providing a complimentary copy of the book. All opinions expressed are my own.
Title: The War Beneath
Author: S.R. Hughes
Publication Date: October 1st, 2019
Publisher: Permuted Press
Genre: Fantasy, paranormal thriller
Age Range: Adult
Trigger warnings: Drug/alcohol use, mentions/threats of sexual assault, violence, death
Synopsis: Paul had been a forensic psychologist. But after his daughter’s funeral, he hit the rock bottom of a spiraling addiction. When the spirits of the dead started rasping their wishes in his ears, he fled New York for withering Oceanrest—a flat-broke city barnacled to Maine’s coast. There, he’s spent the last five years scraping by, trying to shake off the burdens of his past, pretending to be a man without context, without history, without the secret ability to speak with the dead. But soon, all of that will be taken away from him.
Deirdre’s spent the past fourteen years as a resident of Squatter City—the most distal and dilapidated of Oceanrest’s gangrenous appendages. Growing and harvesting a hydroponic farm of mystic flora and esoteric plantlife, she’s built a business as a drug dealer and apothecary. After years of relative peace, Deirdre’s life finally seems tenable. But when one of her regular clients double-crosses her, what little serenity she’s discovered quickly unravels.
Deirdre and Paul soon find themselves under attack from criminals and cultists, on the run from Quebecois mobsters, Aryan Nationalists, and a group of young men who seem dedicated to a cause of brutality and destruction on an apocalyptic scale.
I don’t read a lot of paranormal thrillers, but I’ve been feeling like I’ve confined myself to certain genres lately, and when TLC Book Tours reached out about participating in this blog tour, it seemed like the perfect chance to branch out of my comfort zone. My thoughts on The War Beneath are muddled at best, so this review won’t be structured like my others.
To start, S.R. Hughes does his best to provide commentary on the injustices and violence that marginalized communities face. It’s easy to see how critical he is of these disparities and what he’s trying to do to criticize them in The War Beneath, but it admittedly made me a little uncomfortable. There’s just something that sets off a squirmy feeling in me whenever someone uses a slur – albeit an outdated one, in this case – that’s not theirs to use, even if it’s supposed to serve a greater purpose in the writing. While I know that Hughes had good intentions and could see the care imbued in the book, the discomfort I felt hindered my ability to get really into the story.
While I was never able to fully set aside my misgivings about a white author writing about Neo-Nazis in an almost apocalyptic world, the book was still immersive. One minute I was bored, and the next I wasn’t. The more the story unraveled, the more invested I got, although I wasn’t as attached to the characters as I normally like to be in order to really enjoy a book. Despite that lukewarm connection, my curiosity was piqued, and I definitely appreciated the fast-paced writing. Before I was even halfway through the book, I was spooked, and instantly reminded of why I tend to stay away from paranormal thrillers – but in a good way.
I’m not sure if I could recommend this book without feeling a little…iffy about it, but that could be my critical race theory jumping out. Despite my misgivings, overall The War Beneath is a good read, especially for fans of the paranormal who want a little something more. I think this is just one of the books you need to read for yourself to decide whether or not it’s for you, but I probably won’t be picking up any other paranormal thrillers anytime soon.
About S.R. HughesS. R. Hughes inhabits the glittering darknesses between dreams but writes from Queens, NY. He’s been published in Sanitarium, the Wild Hunt eZine, and has had stories featured on several podcasts. Find out more about him at his website, and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Check out the rest of the tour:
|Dog-Eared Days of Summer||Feb. 10, 2020|
|Jessicamap Reviews||Feb. 11, 2020|
|Bibliotica||Feb. 12, 2020|
|Instagram: @barksbeachesbooks||Feb. 13, 2020|
|The Bookish Alix||Feb. 14, 2020|
|Instagram: @bookclubwithbite||Feb. 17, 2020|
|Instagram: @jenabrownwrites||Feb. 18, 2020|
|Instagram: @colbywilkens||Feb. 19, 2020|
|Crossroad Reviews||Feb. 20, 2020|