Hell Holes 1 – Reviews

Summary

Stars Reviews
5 Star Reviews 22
4 Star Reviews 32
3 Star Reviews 13
2 Star Reviews 1
1 Star Reviews 2
4.0 Stars 70 Reviews

 

5 Star Reviews

The story line was very good (5 Stars)

By Patty Beaty on May 14, 2017 (Original Goodreads Review)

The story line was very good, it held my interest from beginning to end. I discovered moments ago, much to my delight, there is a second book out which I can’t wait to read. The author tells a tale of ‘sinkholes’ suddenly appearing. A panicked oil exec calls for a team of scientists to find out if these holes are a threat to their oil lines. No one is prepared for what they find…

Very interesting book (5 Stars)

By Nancy W. Scroggins on April 24, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

I felt that this book is a very well written book, holding my focused attention throughout. I will enjoy reading the second book in this series. I will also recommend this book to others that are interested in this type of writing.

Hell Holes! (5 Stars)

By Amy Hubbard on April 20, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

Called on an unexpected assignment to inspect unexplained openings in the ground all over the world a group of friends and colleagues encounter something they never thought in their wildest dreams existed! Will they make it or will they fail??? This is a new author to me. Loved the story.

Great start (5 Stars)

By Brandy Mulder on April 18, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

I was really surprised by this book. The science is laid out well within the story so you don’t feel bored or lectured, the story line is fast paced and intense, the characters are believable, and a little magic is mixed in for excitement. I like how the professors are capable and non geeky. It’s all business till Hell literally breaks loose. And oh god the carelessness of smokers…… There is violence, no adult content, and I would say good for ages 13+ The ending is somewhat of a cliff hanger and I can’t wait to see what happens in book 2.

Couldn’t Put It Down!!! (5 Stars)

By Tresa Lorz Johnson (Nurse4pets) on April 17, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

This book hooked me from the start!! Dr. Jack Oswald and his team are called in to research these mysterious gigantic holes that are popping up near oil pipelines in Alaska. What they find is definitely not what they were expecting!! A gripping read, very detailed, you won’t want to put it down!!!

What a cool story idea. (5 Stars)

By MoBookWorm on January 20, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

Very scary and exciting read. I enjoy the mix of science and scare the heck out of me. Definitely be reading book 2 to see what the heck happened next! Glad I discovered this story!

A Fast-Paced Thriller (5 Stars)

By Heidi A. Price on January 17, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
The first time I picked this story up, I read it cover-to-cover for the sheer pleasure of settling down with a good story that had me holding my breathe in places. One of the best parts of this book is that although Jack Oswald is interesting in his own right, he is surrounded by some seriously badass, gun-toting, demon-shooting, brilliant-as-hell women.

Firesmith touches upon many themes in this book, and the story benefits from these many layers as Oswald and crew try to contain a sea of demons spilling forth on the barren Alaskan tundra.

Full disclosure: I had the wonderful privilege of offering some editorial insight on this book, not that much was needed.

James Rollins watch out! (5 Stars)

By Lori Beasley Bradley on January 12, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

I couldn’t put this book down! I started it just after breakfast and finished it around eleven that same night! I loved the way Mr. Firesmith combined science and a bit of paranormal to tell his story. James Rollins watch out!

By Lori Beasley Bradley, Author of The Legend of the Swamp Witch and The Ruby Queen: Book 1 of The Soiled Dove Sagas

Wonderfully Scary Adventure! (5 Stars)

By Another Thyme on January 7, 2017 (Original Amazon Canada Review)

I loved this book! It fits in the category that I like to call “quick reads”, always a good find, and the story scared me silly! Although I must admit I saw the ending coming (I remembered the sorceress O’Shannon’s warning that the demons could take on any form) it was still a satisfactory conclusion to a tale of horror which saw the cast of characters running for their lives. I particularly liked the author’s introduction that made the story appear to be a real report of the events that transpired. Let me just add: don’t read this book in the dark! I’m really glad to have been offered a chance to read this story in return for an honest review; its one of the best books I have recently read and I look forward to the next installment.

A Very Well Written Book (5 Stars)

By Kelly on September 26, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

I could not put it down. The story will draw you in and keep you on the edge of your seat during the action scenes. Very Descriptive and helps you to immerse yourself in the book.

No Title (5 Stars)

By Roxanne on September 14, 2016 (Original Goodreads Review)

This is a Goodreads win review. This is a most unusual book. The premise is a team of people are sent to Alaska to investigate holes on the tundra and close to the oil pipeline. Then it turns into a little sci fy for the danger that lurks below.

A Unique Action/Adventure Story (5 Stars)

By DMReader on August 25, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

Hell Holes: What Lurks Below is a quick, enjoyable read. Full of action and fraught with danger, the story moves at a steady pace throughout. Action scenes are well done, keeping you on the edge of your seat. The array of demons the author has created are well developed, scary, and unique. The demons (and the hell holes) provide an interesting and original premise. I won’t divulge any spoilers, but one character has very different and unexpected talents. If you enjoy action/adventure stories but are tired of the same old threats, this is a book you should pick up.

Dave Robertson, Author of Strange Hunting, Strange Hunting II, and The Brave and The Dead

Urban Fantasy? Science Fantasy? (5 Stars)

By AngryGnome on February 27, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

A big surprise. Even though the premise is spelled out during the Prologue, what followed was consistently surprising, and constantly gripping. Furthermore, the underlying science that is described here is very well presented. Not overly didactic, but adding an interesting and useful dimension which helps add credibility to the story as a whole.

The book is short, which is probably my only gripe. I got ‘into’ it quickly, and I enjoyed my time in Firesmith’s world. I did not want to leave. Given that there appears to be more to follow, I have something to look forward to and will certainly keep an eye out for a sequel.

Urban Fantasy? Science Fantasy? I’m not sure how to label it. But whatever it is, I really got a kick out of it, and would happily come back for more. Recommended.

MJ Kobernus, Author of The Guardian: Blood in the Sand

Super, Fun, Imaginative Page Turner! (5 Stars)

By Amazon Customer on August 12, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s a very fun imaginative read that is mixed with realism and a wonderfully developed plot. It absolutely makes me want to keep turning the page to discover what develops next. It is a solid page turner you don’t want to put down.

No Review Title (5 Stars)

By Patricia Kaniasty on May 24, 2016 (Original Goodreads Review)

This story was sooooooo good. Why wasn’t it longer??!! Creepy, scary, kept me on the edge of my seat. I want more………………

Intense and relevant to our climate-changing world. (5 Stars)

By MerriSki on January 11, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

Great story! It’s very relevant to the climate-changing world we live in today. I couldn’t put the book down. If you are looking for something to grab your interest and not take too long to read, this is the book. Can’t wait to read the next two books.

No Review Title (5 Stars)

By Karen L. Taylor on April 10, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

Very well written, very interesting pre and post para normal. Looking forward to reading the second book.

Great airplane read! (5 Stars)

By Amazon Customer on January 11, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

This was a great airplane read — Firesmith got to the premise of the book quickly, while still doing some initial character development and setup. As much as I enjoy big sagas, I travel enough that having something consumable in less than four hours that still sticks with me is a nice change. No spoilers, but “what” came out of the Hell Holes was enough of a surprise to make me want to read the second book — hurry up, Don, we’re waiting!!!

This little book packs quite a punch. (5 Stars)

By tas@sei.cmu.edu on October 15, 2015 (Original Amazon Review)

This little book packs quite a punch. The premise of the story is very interesting and comes across as plausible. Not to give anything away, I can’t wait for the next installment. The ending would have been disappointing if there would not be volume 2, 3, …..

Hell Holes – What Lurks Below (5 Stars)

By R. P. Smith on April 29, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

This novel is a dark fantasy with a hint of horror written in a journal format that works very well. It’s written in the first person and the viewpoint is from Dr. Jack Oswald, a Professor of Geology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, who is commissioned, with his team, to investigate the unexpected appearance of deep holes in the North Slope of Alaska. Things don’t turn out quite as a scientific expedition should and the team are soon in deep, well above their heads.

It’s a fast moving dystopian story that will appeal to anyone who likes this kind of genre. It’s a book that you’ll want to finish, once started. Read this book before you start the second because they follow on.

Not only modern fantasy science fiction, but also action and adventure (5 Stars)

By Pavel H. on April 30, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

I like scientific underpinnings of the book, similar to Michael Crichton style, reflecting author’s computer science background, in a blend with magic of J. K. Rowling and an intelligent action style of Stargate SG-1.

If you like this style (I do), you’ll miss a lot if you do not read this book.

Although the book ends in the most thrilling moment, like an episode of “24” TV series, the book contains a preview of the sequel, Demons of the Dalton (the Kindle version does). The sequel does not need recommendation, if you start reading this book, you will read the sequels, for sure.

Great read (5 Stars)

By Dale M. Baranoski on 4 August 2016 (Original B&N Review)

Don’t let the cover mislead you, this is a very good book. I was a bit vexed at what seemed a push for climate change agenda and a negative Christian in the beginning but that eventually stopped and the story exploded with fascinating and riveting adventure. I will be seeking the next book and more from this author. Kudos and thanks for the entertainment!

 

4 Star Reviews

My Review (4 Stars)

By Laura Thomas on June 22, 2017 (Original FUONLYKNEW Review)

I love unexplained acts of nature. Makes for such a chilling plot. When holes start appearing in the Arctic Circle , a team of experts is sent to investigate. Once they arrive, things get worse as more holes appear. And then something straight out of Hell crawls out. A horde of otherworldly creatures that have only one thing in mind. Killing mankind. With nowhere to run, the team seeks shelter in an old station. But the horde won’t be denied, and like an octopus with a sealed bottle full of yummy bait, they will find a way in.

I was almost rubbing my hands together in twisted anticipation before I started this one. Mysterious holes appearing. Something beyond imagining crawls out. The fate of mankind hangs in the balance. Oh yeah. I knew I had to read this book.

There’s a mixed bag of character’s. Ones you come to like and respect and some not so much. The author doesn’t seem to mind killing off either one. Keeps you on edge when things get down and dirty. Which doesn’t take long at all.

The story is strong and there’s a sub plot that makes things even more interesting. Also, the blend of science fiction and horror leaves the story wide open for the author to go in many different directions.

The ending. Well, it’s an end, but also a cliff hanger. That’s because this is really the beginning of something much bigger. I’ll be grabbing the next one immediately. Got a good feeling about this series.

Exciting but too short (4 Stars)

By Laurie Jenkins on June 20, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

I read the blurb of this book and knew I had to immediately read it. Set in Alaska, there is a huge hole that appears suddenly that could conceivably cause trouble to the nearby oil field and pipeline. A team of scientists is quickly deployed to find out the cause of the phenomenon. The team arrives quickly but already hundreds of holes are opening up. From this point, the characters scramble at a breakneck pace for safety as unnatural creatures spew forth amid noxious gas and tectonic quakes. The team’s priority becomes staying alive in the isolated far north.

I loved the premise that explained the sudden appearance of the other-worldly demons, and the remote Alaskan setting. I enjoyed the exciting, nail-biting suspense with the palpable sense of danger at every turn. This book had an ending (of sorts) but I was disappointed by the cliffhanger. I have already purchased the next book and can’t wait to find out what happens next.

My review (3.5 Stars)

By Lu Ann Worley on May 31, 2017 (Original Rockin’ Book Reviews (RBR) Review)

As I began to read this book, I thought it was a documentary type of story… Then all “Hell” broke loose!

This is a tale of an interesting group of people sent to inspect some anomalies occurring around the Alaskan pipeline and Arctic Circle. They were not prepared for the horrors which awaited them. Only one of them was “clued in” on what was really happening!

This is definitely a book for fans of ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, ‘Halloween series’, ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, etc.!

This fast-paced book was quite well written and gruesomely descriptive, but not enough time was spent on allowing the reader to become acquainted with the characters, nor their associations leading to the traumatic events. I think the new Book Cover better represents the gory content. The title was very well-chosen.

On a personal note, I didn’t like the profanity occasionally used nor the extreme violence. However, it was quite unique and for those who enjoy horror, it will possibly be truly enjoyed.

Things that go bump in the daylight (4 Stars)

By Sue Williams on May 27, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

The story is about group of people that were sent to Alaska to investigate some huge holes that were appearing in the permafrost; a geologist, a climatologist, two geological grad students, a Exxon Mobil management employee to see if the North Slope oil fields were in danger, and a woman that claimed she was a photographer for a newspaper. What they found cost the lives of two members of the group and left the others traumatized. The Alaskan permafrost had much more in it than holes.
The author researched everything he could to make this story as accurate as a fictional book can be and the beginning can fool you into thinking this is non-fiction.
I recommend this book for fantasy, horror and thriller fans.

Review (4 Stars)

By KS Marsden on May 9, 2017 (Original Goodreads Review)

Geologist Jack is invited to investigate some mysterious holes, with the rest of his team. What these experts are about to witness is beyond any imagination.

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is a written account from Jack Oswald – a survivor and first-hand witness of the day the Hellholes unleashed… hell.
Jack is a geology professor, and as such his story is very science-based. This is awesome for fellow geeks like me; it’s rare that you get a fictional book that portrays science and blends it with the high-fantasy of demons.
The downside is that the story has a neutral and observatory feel about it. There are a lot of detailed descriptions over buildings, paths, potential issues and things I hadn’t even thought to think of. The setting is laid out in full, to allow the characters to run through it later. Which can be a positive or negative, depending on your point of view.
Personally, I would have liked to have seen the descriptions worked into more natural conversations, queries, or Jack’s curiosity. I felt that some sections slowed the narrative, because it was preemptively filling any plot holes and covering as many bases as possible, before moving onto the action.

The action was actually great, I really loved it. The demons that come out of the hellholes are monsters lurking in the shadows, building tension on where and when they are going to strike.
They are violent and unforgiving beasts, and you can believe there is an oncoming apocalypse.

The rest of the characters were alright. My favourite was easily Aileen O’Shannon, she’s a woman on her own mission and as much as you know she is on your side, she’s also very unpredictable and lacks some humanity. But after what she’s seen and done in her long life, it’s not hard to believe that she would quickly discount those dead or dying.
The others lacked any real distinction. They all seemed to merge into one and were all very agreeable to every suggestion. There was no humour, no annoyances, nothing that made them stand out. You could tell that the focus of this story was on the science and the demon attack.

What Lurks Below is a relatively short story, but ends with a bang.
Definitely a cliff-hanger, but I found it a good one, how it was all nice and normal, and then dropped a hint before ending.
Overall, this was about 3.5 out of 5 for me, and I look forward to the next part of the series.

By KS Marsden, the author of Witch-Hunter series: The Shadow Rises, The Shadow Reigns, and The Shadow Falls, as well as other books.

You won’t be able to read just one (4 Stars)

By Laura Thomas on May 7, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

I love unexplained acts of nature. Makes for such a chilling plot. When holes start appearing in the Arctic Circle , a team of experts is sent to investigate. Once they arrive, things get worse as more holes appear. And then something straight out of Hell crawls out. A horde of otherworldly creatures that have only one thing in mind. Killing mankind. With nowhere to run, the team seeks shelter in an old station. But the horde won’t be denied, and like an octopus with a sealed bottle full of yummy bait, they will find a way in.

I was almost rubbing my hands together in twisted anticipation before I started this one. Mysterious holes appearing. Something beyond imagining crawls out. The fate of mankind hangs in the balance. Oh yeah. I knew I had to read this book.

There’s a mixed bag of character’s. Ones you come to like and respect and some not so much. The author doesn’t seem to mind killing off either one. Keeps you on edge when things get down and dirty. Which doesn’t take long at all.

The story is strong and there’s a sub plot that makes things even more interesting. Also, the blend of science fiction and horror leaves the story wide open for the author to go in many different directions.

The ending. Well, it’s an end, but also a cliff hanger. That’s because this is really the beginning of something much bigger. I’ll be grabbing the next one immediately. Got a good feeling about this series.

Minions of Hell (4 Stars)

By Patty Hays on April 22, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

Well this book definitely made me engage my little used inner geek, and honestly, I enjoyed it. At first, I was afraid I would get swamped trying to absorb all the new knowledge flooding my long retired brain cells, but the tale began to switch from educational real possibilities to the introduction of mythical creatures and demons and bingo…..I got roped in. I truly could picture a sci-fi channel made for TV movie being modeled after this. The ending was a bit abrupt but it did leave room for our own imaginations to write the ending. An entertaining read for those looking for a touch of reality with our demons and heroes.

Great! (4 Stars)

By Kristine Zepf (a.k.a., Loves to Read, the blogger behind A Cozy Booknook) on April 18, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

I thought this was a very creative story. I was quickly drawn into this story and couldn’t put the book down. I really liked the characters and was rooting for their success. I was surprised to find elements from several genres in this story, I think it would appeal to a wide audience. There is a cliffhanger but it left me wanting more. I look forward to reading what happens next.

Hell-Holes (4 Stars)

By Ashley Martinez on April 18, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

A thrilling horror story. It gave me the creeps. The story and characters felt lifelike and crazy. I could definitely see this as a syfy movie. I can’t wait to see what happens next especially with the cliff hanger ending.

What actually lurks below is a real surprise (4 Stars)

By Dorothy Cady By on April 5, 2017

(Original Amazon Review):
When I began reading this book, I didn’t know what to expect. I don’t usually read adult fantasy fiction, so I was a bit surprised when I found out what actually lurks below. It was a pleasant surprise, however. The story seems to start a little bit slow, but picks up pace quickly. Before the reader knows it, she’s engaged with the characters and the story. I’m looking forward to the second book in this series.

(Original Goodreads Review):
I was a bit surprised to find out what actually lurks below, but that’s what a good book should do for you. Right? It has a good blend of science nerds and demons to interest fantasy readers. If you like Harry Potter and his magic wand-casting spells, you’ll also enjoy Hell Holes: What Lurks Below.

A fast paced and gripping sci-fi / paranormal! (4 Stars)

By Stories To Live By on March 29, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

“I’m afraid we’re all likely to come out of this with some degree of PTSD, that is assuming we’re lucky to come out of this at all.”

*** 4 Out of 5 stars. ***

While preparing for his upcoming classes, Jack Oswald, a geology professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, received an urgent phone call from Kevin Kowalski, an ExxonMobil manager, asking him to come and examine the mysterious holes that seemed to have appeared overnight and are threatening the oil company’s operations in Alaska’s North Slope.

Having been told to put a team together, Jack Oswald asks his wife and colleague, Dr. Angie Martinez and two of his grad students, Mark and Jill Star to accompany him. Meanwhile, Aileen O’Shannon, a reporter for the Fairbanks daily news-miner, came to interview Mr. Oswald about the baffling craters that have been popping up all over the world. Instead, she overheard his conversation with Mr. Kowalski, and though it was made clear that she wasn’t wanted as a member of his team, she included herself on their research trip, and met them at their plane anyway, giving the others no choice but to let her join them.

When Jack Oswald and his research team arrive at Deadhorse, Alaska, they’re met with the oil company representative, Mr. Kowalski and field biologist, Dr. Bill Henderson. After introductions are made, their camp site put together and their scientific instruments prepared, they begin their investigation. Soon after, though, they are met with a great tragedy, and unfortunately for them, their hardships had only just begun.

After experiencing the loss of one of their members due to a reckless mistake, they discover that what lurks within those holes are something that are far mor dangerous than they could have ever imagined. Monstrous beasts emerge and the holes continue to grow and multiply.

All hell breaks loose… Literally.

You can tell that Donald G. Firesmith put a lot of time into researching certain aspects for his book; very factual. I really loved how the scientific parts of this story are so well explained and detailed.

I’ll admit, when I began reading this story I really thought it was going to just be a thrilling sci-fi, but I was wrong. What Lurks Below has paranormal elements in it as well. While I wouldn’t normally think that those two genres could do well together, Donald G. Firesmith does a great job bringing them together and making it believable.

I wish that there was a little more information on the “Tutores Contra Infernum” (The Guardians Against Hell). I’m hoping there will be more on the secret society in book two.

This book ends on a major cliff hanger, in the middle of chaos, so I’m definitely glad that book two is available. At the end of this book, the author gives a list of the characters, both human and supernatural, along with some added information, which I thought was cool.

Overall, this is a fast paced and thrilling sci-fi / paranormal story. What Lurks Below is a fairly short read but it’s packed with exciting action and plot twists! I would recommend this to adult readers as there are some graphic scenes (death, injuries, demonic creatures, etc) and some cursing.

**** I was given an eBook copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Booktasters for introducing me to this author, and thank you to Donald G. Firesmith for giving me the opportunity to read and review his book. ****

No title (4 Stars)

By Todd on March 24, 2017 (Original Goodreads Review)

I enjoyed this very much but way to short. I want more.

I give this 3.5 stars. (3.5 Stars)

By Cheryl Earle on March 19, 2017 (Original Goodreads Review)

Well, wasn’t this a complete surprise package! It just goes to show that you should never judge a book by its cover. After reading reviews as to what this novella would be genre wise, I tend to disagree that it’s science fiction. To me it felt more like a horror/paranormal/thriller and kept you on the edge of your seat as to what would happen next. Written rather like a journal from the male protagonist’s point of view, the writing was smooth and the characters quite lifelike. It did get a bit heavy on the technical side but this was really needed to back up various theories for the existence of the holes. I won’t say anymore as it would give spoilers away, suffice to say I’ll be reading the next novella in the series, which looks to be from the female protagonist’s point of view.

*** As an aside, this story was based on the very real happenings of numerous holes appearing in rural Siberia. There is still no real consensus as to what has caused these holes to appear, but it really is quite fascinating and eerie to read about. ***

Official Review: Hell Holes: What Lurks Below (4 Stars)

[NOTE THAT THE ONLINE BOOK CLUB RANKS BOOKS ON A FOUR STAR SYSTEM. THE REVIEWER RANKED THIS BOOK 3 OUT OF 4.]
By Scerakor on March 15, 2017 (Original Official Online Book Club Review)

What Lurks Below by Donald G. Firesmith is a science fiction novel, the first in the Hell Holes series, which investigates the mysterious holes that have appeared in the Arctic Circle. First in Siberia, then eventually in Alaska, holes in the frozen tundra have appeared without explanation. Alaskan scientists have been brought in by the Oil Companies to ensure the safety of the enterprise, but no one is prepared for the events that follow their initial investigation. This work starts off in an extremely scientific manner, using both logic and science to address the problems at hand. As the situation gets both dire and complicated, the true nature of the situation reveals itself. Some of the members of the research party are more than they present themselves to be and even others may not last the duration of the study.

I thoroughly enjoyed the scientific research that has gone into the beginning of this novel. An author that has done their homework, but still writes science fiction, allowing the line between the two to maintain its foggy nature, is extremely attractive to a reader. I loved how I actually learned something about Alaskan geography and geology throughout the first part of this novel. In addition to this, I thoroughly enjoyed knowing that at some point during this work, everything was going to change. I knew that it was a “science-fiction” novel and not simply a “mystery” and therefore was waiting with extreme anticipation for the ball to drop. I was not disappointed. I best like that the science presented in the book was real and the author entirely did his homework beforehand.

In my opinion, the book itself was unfortunately too short. Perhaps this was the intention of the author and was fully intended, but I found that it did not make it to a logical conclusion. If I did not know that the stories had an entire (or intended) series, there would be no reason to end the book on the cliffhanger that it did. I understand the intent of novellas and an intentional series of short books, but I find that this book would have better been represented as one entire book rather than a group of short novellas.

I have given this book 3 out of 4 stars because I was completely amused by the books story line and the premise of the book/narrative itself, but could not bring myself to give it top marks. I love the idea of the story and think that it is another great addition to the apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic genre, but some of the narrative and the text itself seems forced. It doesn’t flow as well as some of the masters of the day, but I can’t necessarily hold this against Mr. Firesmith. I enjoyed it, but could definitely see room for improvement.

This book is ideal for those that are a fan of the apocalyptic/science-fiction/fantasy genre and are willing to read any and all of the newest stories within this genre. As well, and going hand in hand with that above, survival story enthusiasts will also be amused. Finally, those that appreciate when an author has done their research and presents real science in their works will find a gem with What Lurks Below. Those that find an abrupt switch to religious/science-fiction/fantasy work in the midst of a relatively serious story will not enjoy the premise of the book. I remind all reading this that at the base it is a science-fiction/fantasy work and that logical (as we know them today) explanations for all occurrences will not be maintained throughout the work. If this is no problem, you may still enjoy this well presented book.

No Title (4 Stars)

By Hannah Ross on February 26, 2017 (Original Goodreads Review)

What Lurks Below is an interesting cross between sci-fi/dystopia, horror and magical realism. Summary: out of the blue, great big holes open up in the ground in Alaska and vicious scary demons begin to pour out of some fourth-dimension version of Hell. What ensues is a fast-paced, action-packed, bloody and gory chase during which our protagonists try to escape to safety, heart-wrenchingly losing some of their comrades in the process.

It is a relatively short, quick and entertaining read for those who like the genre of dystopian survivalism. My main issue with this book, however, was that it ends on an absolute cliffhanger, compelling the reader to go on to read the sequel if he is to acquire any kind of satisfaction. I didn’t feel that the story had a complete arc of its own – the ending was kind of chopped-in-the-middle. This made me feel sort of cheated; I’m OK with knowing that the plot goes on in the next book, but I still want to read something with a beginning, middle and end.

Hannah Ross, Author of the Quest of the Messenger Trilogy

A Roller Coaster Ride Filled With Terrifyingly PTSD Moments! (4 Stars)

By Madame on February 21, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

There is a slow & somewhat technically detailed start, but stick with it. This methodical crawl pays off big. When the pace picks up, it becomes fast & furiously action packed. Horrific gore, grotesque demon arrivals, unexpected situations and desperate life saving choices will keep the reader breathless engaged with each turn of the page.

Hell Holes (4 Stars)

By Margaret C. Ritter on February 1, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

Good idea! building the story is a struggle for Donald. Too many offshoots of other stories with the demons, Imps and gargoyles. Just think how great the story would be with the methane disruptions causing problems in the real core of Earth!. Too bad he kept killing off main characters. The girl became boring. Gave it four stars for originality of beginning.

Very Much Enjoyed (4 Stars)

By Angela Kay on January 18, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

Hell Holes: What Lurks Below is a quick, enjoyable novella. Donald Firesmith shows his talent in mixing real science with fiction.

We are looking into Dr. Jack Oswald’s point of view for this narrative. Once the premise of the story gets started, it moves at a fast pace and I was able to finish it the same day I started. The book is shorter than you’re lead to believe. After the major cliffhanger at the ending, we’re fed information about the characters, author bio and what volume two is about.

Despite the typos and run-on sentences, I quite enjoyed reading the story. However, if you really cannot stand major cliffhangers, I’d recommend against reading this story, because it is a whopper. Some people enjoy the urge to continue the plot, others don’t. Fear not, though: volume 2 is already out and waiting for you to pick up and continue the story. After all, it was a fun page-turner, leaving you enticed for more.

Hell Holes by Donald Firesmith (4 Stars)

By Lisa R Alberts-Pettit on January 4, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
I voluntarily reviewed this book as part of the author’s ARC program
This book is an interesting idea. “Sink holes” appear near oil drilling locations. Only problem is the holes are perfect. The holes started having nightmare creatures sprouting from them. A geologist, his wife, two oil company employees, and a witch are left to fight these nightmares. I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the next book.

Surprised Me (4 Stars)

By CristiAK on December 31, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)
Hell Holes: What Lurks Below is not in my favorite genre. It is actually in one of my least liked. I tend to find a lot of SciFi-Fantasy gets bogged down with a lot of terminology I don’t really know. In trying to figure things out, I tend to come to the conclusion that there are many other books that I could be reading. I decided to read Hell Holes because it sounded interesting and was set in Alaska. I wasn’t expecting very much though. I ended up being surprised by a story that held my interest. I found myself really being interested in the holes. That was surprising to me. I’m not sure how I feel yet about the demons and such coming out if the holes. I also didn’t feel as though I got to really know the characters. There were some deaths but I didn’t really dwell on any of them. By the end of the book I did find myself caring about whether or not Jill survived. I think she was the character I attached to the most. The action became nearly nonstop about midway through the book. For the most part this was really good. The ending though, being mid action, left me feeling adrift. I understand that it is the first book in a series. I am hoping we get to know the characters a bit better in the next one. I’m not a big fan of cliffhangers though I usually handle them well. This one left me feeling abandoned in battle. I do hope the author picks it up where we were left. Am I happy that I read this book? Yes, I am. Flawed, (in my eyes), as it is, it did draw me in. Would I recommend it? Yes. Will I read more from this author? Most likely I will come back and read the next book.

I would like to thank BookTasters and the author for the opportunity to voluntarily review this book. I enjoyed it much more than I expected to.

No Title (4 Stars)

By Amanda on December 16, 2016 (Original Ultimate Fantasy Books Review)
Firstly this book was a lot shorter than I expected but I still really enjoyed it. Secondly this book was seriously researched by the author at the start we got a little too much information and thirdly it ends with a massive cliff-hanger.

This book is a mish mash of genres, from science, to fantasy to horror.

So the story is about a group of scientists who have to investigate large holes that have appeared from nowhere in Alaska. Jack the main character goes with his wife and two grad students along with a journalist.

And so the story begins. Once they arrive and settle in things start to happen. The book is fast paced once the fantasy aspect kicks in and it’s a bit of a shocker how the story quickly changes genre. I love love fantasy so for me I loved it. There is plenty of action and scares in the story also, the author covers a lot of different genres but it works.

I would recommend this book to all fantasy lovers, its’ a short quick read.

Geological Thrills with a Side Order of Demons (4 Stars)

By Terry Tyler on December 11, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)
Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team

Mostly, I enjoyed this. It’s very much escapist genre fiction, which could have done with a better edit to rectify repetitions and a few lazily constructed sentences, but I did like it. It’s about geological scientist Jack Oswald who goes out to Alaska with his wife and two of his grad students, to investigate the appearance of mysterious holes in the tundra. Also along for the ride is enigmatic journalist Aileen O’Connor [sic]. Once at camp, all hell is let loose as demonic beings appear from the depths of the mysterious craters. Very quickly, the situation grows from horrendous to super-horrendous.

The author has obviously done his geological research, to the extent of the dialogue being a bit on the information-heavy side in the first half of the book, but if the information is interesting I don’t mind, and this was. It cracks on at a great pace thereafter. At first I was a little put off by the sudden change from feasible arctic geological mystery thriller to Harry Potter-like spells and gargoyles the size of lions, but once I got used to it (pretty quickly), it kind of worked. The action was fast, convincing and scary. Do bear in mind that I’m not a great lover of supernatural; I don’t imagine that this will be any sort of problem for those who are used to reading this genre, in fact you’ll probably love it.

The book turned out to be only long novella length, or certainly very short novel, as it suddenly ends at about 80%, with a humdinger of a cliffhanger. The rest of the book is taken up with information about the series, notes about the inspiration for the book, and part of Book Two. Now, I didn’t understand the ‘part of Book Two’ thing AT ALL. Some people don’t like parts of series ending in a cliffhanger. I do, I love it. This cliffhanger was so good that all I wanted to do was find out what happened next, to the extent that I would have gone straight to Amazon and bought the next one if it was available, which is, surely, the purpose of such endings. So why, Mr Firesmith, have you given me a reason not to, by sticking ‘what happened next’ at the back of Book One? Think on!

My other complaint is about the diagrams at the beginning of the book. Placed there, they meant little. If the diagram for Pump Station 2 was placed right at the start of, or in the middle of, the chapter when the group arrive there, it would have given me all the information I needed, instead of me having to imagine it/keep flicking back to the start. The Alaska map could have been better placed, too.

I give this book a thumbs up, despite the criticisms. If you like arctic landscapes and demonic thrills, I suggest you nip over to Amazon and download it immediately.

Terry Tyler, Author of You Wish

A Fun, Fast Read by an Author Who Really Did His Homework (4 Stars)

By Barton Paul Levenson on November 17, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)
First, the bad news: the writing could be better. There are run-on sentences, typos (the plane began its “decent”), repetitive phrasing. The characters are easy enough to distinguish, but none are really drawn in depth. And there are some long passages of exposition, especially about the lay-out of the oil company base where much of the action takes place.

The good news is, none of that matters very much. This is not a boring or amateurish book. I can assume Firesmith’s prose will improve. If so, we’re in for a real treat–because this book rocks. The plot is fascinating–multiple sinkholes open in the Arctic, and this time, methane isn’t the culprit–we’re being invaded by Hell. Exxon-Mobil sends a petroleum geologist, his climatologist wife, two grad students, and a reporter (or is she?) along with an exec to scout out one of the sinkholes. Things start to go wrong, and before long our heroes have to deal with the violent deaths of team members while fleeing an army of demons, fighting their way into an abandoned Arctic base, and then fleeing the same base. Outside help is not to be had, as the armed forces have their hands full and rescue attempts have yet to be mounted.

In short, this is a fun, fast read. One sequel is already out and I want to see it, plus any more in the series.

Barton Paul Levenson, Author of Dark Gods of Alter Telluria

Devilish (4 Stars)

By Richard Lang (Richie’s Reviews) on November 4, 2016 (Original Amazon Review, Original Richie’s Reviews Review)

Dr. Jack Oswald, a geology professor at the University of Alaska got an emergency call from Kevin Kowalski, an ExxonMobil manager. There were huge holes opening up on the tundra near Prudhoe Bay. Kowalski wanted Oswald’s help identifying them as they threatened their oil wells and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Oswald, his wife Dr. Angela Marteniz, and two grad students, Mark and Jill Starr packed up their supplies and equipment, then flew to Deadhorse to investigate. What they found not only threatened the oil fields, but their lives also. Hellish creatures were coming up from the holes in an attempt to take over civilization as they knew it. Firesmith spins a devilish tale in this creative novelette.

No Title (4 Stars)

By Ian Yarington on September 18, 2016 (Original Goodreads Review)

Won this in the giveaways with another small quick read book and I have to say that I have enjoyed the smaller books because I feel accomplished when I get through them in a few days or in one sitting. I was impressed with the book and my only complaint is that some of it after the half way mark felt a little rushed but other than that it was a good read!

A modern day mash up of real science and the fantasy world (4 Stars)

By Brian’s Book Blog on January 19, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

A team of scientists is asked by Exxon Mobile to come out to do some research on a mysterious hole that has appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. The oil company wants to make sure that this hole and the ones like it won’t be affecting the Alaskan pipeline. The team is stumped by the creation of the hole and even its existence, but quickly realize that they are in for more than just a simple science excursion.

I want to be totally upfront with you, I’m not usually a fan of fantasy. I don’t mind it in video games (I absolutely love Skyrim and the likes), but when it comes to reading, I usually shy away from spellcasting and demons and that stuff.

With that being said, Hell Holes has a really nice mashup of modern day science, real science, mixed in with the fantasy that he writes about. The creatures are supposed to be from what they describe as hell. But even the person who describes it explains it not necessarily as the hell that a Christian may think of, but just a place of almost pure evil.

I really feel like this book could have gone 100 different ways, and I’m not really disappointed in the way it went. Just know, if you’re not a fan of fantasy fiction this book may not be for you. But, if you open your brain like I did to the opportunity and just let it flow. This short book has a lot to offer.

Overall, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would after my first “eye roll moment” when one of the main characters begins to perform… basically magic. I thought, oh no, here we go. But, I was wrong. The writing was excellent and the plot moved quickly. Firesmith’s knowledge of both science and his imagination for the fantasy aspects mixed with the shortness (only 108 pages) made this a blazingly fast read.

If you enjoy the mix of modern and real science with the age old fantasy, this series is definitely for you. Hell Holes is something I’ll be on the look out for!

Enjoyable quick read (4 Stars)

By AJ Watson (Rartemass) on July 11, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

I tend to prefer a full story in a complete book to a series of smaller ones over time. I however gave this a go as part of a trade deal with the author (honest review of my books for the same of his).

The story starts more in the mundane world, and moves into the supernatural about half way through. While I enjoy a certain level of scientific explanation, at times I felt there was a little too much focus on the science rather than the story. Its great that the author has done his research, but I did find a couple sections that were a little bogged down by it. Not a deal breaker however, and its coming from a scientist explaining what happened so it makes sense for the character.

Once the action and the supernatural section starts, the pace picks up a lot. The interactions of characters were believable and how they reacted to a new situation and using weapons for the first time was done well.

Overall I liked the premise. People didn’t survive just because they were established characters. There are sacrifices and anguish, real reactions to horrible situations and mostly relatable people.

I enjoy mystical secrets kept from the modern world so am interested on where the author goes with this aspect.

I have part 2 as well so will continue reading the series.

Intriguing (4 Stars)

By Bekah on April 30, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

This is a fast paced read. It gets to action pretty quickly, so it isn’t one of those books that takes awhile to get in to. The premise of the book is quite interesting. It combines scientific things that are going in the real world , with fiction and fantasy. I don’t want to give any spoilers for those who haven’t read it yet, but there is an unexpected twist with one of the characters. Because of that unexpected character twist, Hell Holes is unique for its genre. By the time you get to the end of the book, you will want to read the second book coming out (Hell Holes: Demons on the Dalton) because Book 1 ends on a cliffhanger!

Hell Holes is a novella that presents an easy and fun read. (4 Stars)

By Adam on January 9, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

Hell Holes is a novella that presents an easy and fun read. It mixes the genres of campy horror and fantasy. Looking forward to the next story in the series.

I truly enjoyed this book. (4 Stars)

By Gina and Patrick Costin on April 8, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

Hell Holes-What Lurks Below-(spoiler alert)
Kevin Kowalski, Exxon mobile manager, has called on Jack Oswald, a geology professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, to look into the “sink holes” have appeared out of nowhere. Now they have appeared in the Northern Slope, too close to the oil wells and especially, the Trans-Alaska pipeline, for Kowalski’s comfort and he wants answers.

Outfitted with his wife, two of his undergrad students and a reporter, who appeared at the last moment and to which none of his team are familiar, they rush off to the North Slope where unknown to them they’re about to begin an expedition to the likes of which none of them could ever have imagined in their wildest of dreams…or so they thought. They soon realize that maybe the things of fairytales and nightmares, things only made up in stories, are not as far-fetched and that the reporter who happened to show up at just the right moment, is much more than she appears. As she tells of the horrors that have begun unfolding and an ancient battle kept secret to all but the very few selected to battle those horrors there’s one question that remains-Are these the end of days for mankind?

I truly enjoyed this book. It was full of action right from the start, and even though it was short, I still got a sense of each character. Also due to it being short, the level of danger that each “villain”, in this case types of demons, escalates quickly. I had not read a book, until this one, where this rapid escalation from one horror to the next has occurred and am surprised at the fact that it didn’t deter from the excitement. The books I have read that have involved different levels and types of demons slowly progress from one type demon to the next with full backgrounds of each demon. Even though this book didn’t do that it was still just as enjoyable.
Then ending left a cliff-hanger and many times I don’t find cliff-hangers to be anything more than an annoyance but this time it left me looking forward to the next book as I’m sure there must be given the way it ended.

No Review Title (4 Stars)

By Autumn Fallen Over Book Reviews on February 16, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

So I read what the book was about and figured it was going about sink holes and maybe a new world down below. I have already read another book about sink holes so I figured let me see what this author is about. This isn’t sink holes this is something far more than that. There is another world opening up but it is one you don’t want to be around. So I got almost close to a half in this book and when I was thrown for a loop of the paranormal I was like what? Wasn’t expecting that and even though it was neat I started wanting to see more action without it feeling rushed.

A team of scientist go out to determine what is causing these holes to open up near pipelines, but when they get there it is way more than they bargain for. Now it is a race against time to live and they have to put their lives in the hands of a reporter/mysterious person. We get to meet a lot of different paranormal entities in this book but this is where I felt it was rushed. We get it hit with one thing and we deal with that for a day or so (in the story they have to sleep some time), then it is like oh this is here and then this is here. It was like wow that was very quick. I have to say the ending left me wanting to throw my kindle (though I didn’t) it is a cliffhanger. I have to get book two because I need to see where this is going.

Will humanity survive? Will this person who has an idea of what is going on give us more answers on how to possibly stop this? You have to read it to find out. Overall a good short story.

Book 1 of a Serial (4 Stars)

By Gordon A. Long on February 7, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)
This will be a short review, because this is a short book. Just longer than novella length, at about 100 pages in the dead-tree edition. In my opinion, Amazon doesn’t give you enough information in this respect. eBook buyers beware.

This book is a bit of a surprise in other ways. It starts out like any other action-adventure in which the scientific community is confronted by a could-be-real danger. In this case huge, symmetrical holes appear in the Arctic permafrost, threatening oil production and more. A team of scientists is assembled, their equipment is loaded, and off they go to face the unknown.

Except in this case (too early in the book to make this a spoiler) “What Lurks Below” is soon revealed to be paranormal, and from that point the weirdy stuff takes off in full howl. Our heroes find themselves belting it across the tundra, chased by all sorts of demons from Hell. Will they make it in time to Fairbanks and safety? Well, that would be a real spoiler, but I will give you a hint; this is a very short book, and obviously part of a serial.

Literus interuptus aside, this novel compares favourably with others of its type. It is well edited and tightly written for the most part, with highly detailed action sequences, great suspense, and the mildly stereotyped characters expected of the genre.

However, there are certain flaws that keep this book off the top of the list. Writing style in this genre tends to be terse rather than verbose. Lines like, “Unfortunately, as much as I hate to admit it, I’m beginning to think that it would be best if she came along,” could use some tidying up. In spite of careful adhesion to scientific accuracy, a tendency to lean on coincidence to drive the plot also weakens the appeal of the story. Oh, yes, and a mathematical inaccuracy that leaves us unsure of whether one character’s age should be measured in centuries or millennia.

Still and all, a decent beginning to a story. Recommended for fans of action/adventure of the paranormal variety who are willing to invest in a series.

 

3 Star Reviews

No Title (3 Stars)

By Khurram on June 23, 2017 (Original Goodreads Review)

A good book. I did find it a bit slow at times especially at the beginning. The action does not start really till past half way through the book. This is a more wet your appetite book. Just as I was really getting into the book [it] ended. I am guessing the next book will pick up from where this one left off.

We are told the story from Dr Oswald’s perspective, a middle aged geology professor who still takes field work to keep himself active. He is married to an climatologist professor who we are told is the more athletic of the two. However we do not see this in this book. Aileen O’Shannon is new to joining the team. A young looking, beautiful, but secretive woman.

The characters are life long scientist, I must commend the author he has done his research the experts sound authentic. As this book is quite short there is not much time to more then touch on how their core belief are changed, really shock and survival instincts take over. Really in this kind of situation that is what is likely to happen. This book is more to the horror side then sci fi. However a good start to the series. I would have liked to give it half a star more but not quite 4 stars.

It was fast-paced and there was some good action. However… (3 Stars)

By Sandra on June 7, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

This book has a very interesting premise. Mysterious holes are suddenly appearing throughout the Arctic Circle and geologist Dr. Jack Oswald and his team are called to investigate. What they find defies all known laws of science and they soon find themselves fighting for their lives.

The story itself was okay. It was well-researched, which I definitely appreciated and found interesting. It was fast-paced and there was some good action. However, I think that this story could use a little more editing and re-writing – particularly around the main characters. The fast-paced nature of the story worked well when the action was going, but it didn’t give time for the characters and their relationships to be fully fleshed out. As a result, the characters come across as pretty one-dimensional which makes it difficult for the reader to feel truly invested when the danger appears. This also really hurts the main character when he becomes bewitched by a beautiful stranger that appears. Instead of reading as a man irresistibly drawn to her, he reads more like a 12-year-old kid crushing on his favorite celebrity.

The dialogue of the characters was also a bit awkward as it seemed that some lines were spoken purely for expositional purposes. Some of those lines could be transferred to the narrative rather the dialogue. It wasn’t terrible – but it could definitely use some reworking.
The narrative was also okay. The author tends to fall into the trap of telling rather than showing. Again, not terrible – but a little more reworking would help a lot.

There was one point in the narrative, however, where I lost any and all sympathy for the main character. It was in the beginning when he was thinking about his wife and he called her his “little Latina chili pepper”.

Just…

No.

Don’t do that.

As someone who is of a similar ethnic background, I can tell you that my instinctual response was to punch this guy in his face. I understand that married couples often have strange little pet names for each other they consider endearing – but without establishing and showing that type of relationship in the narrative first, those pet names will come off as more condescending than cute.

These are a lot of notes, but I do think that there is a lot of great potential to the story. The concept is intriguing, the action is exciting – it just needs a little more work.

Not my cup of tea (3 Stars)

By Patty Beaty on May 14, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

The storyline was pretty good, well written and mostly held my interest. But I feel the ending should have been so much more than what it is.

Not my cup of tea (3 Stars)

By Mun on May 4, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

The book begins a story of demons from another dimension attacking earth through magical under-earth portals, and a group of geologists with an ancient sorcerer fighting against. I was not impressed by the basic story, but the flow of action was OK. If you are into hell-hounds go for it. Read it, even enjoyed it, but will not continue with the series.

Pretty well written (3 Stars)

By Dondee on April 20, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

Pager turner, pretty well written. I will purchase the next installment to the series.

Goodreads review (3 Stars)

By Naturalbri (Bri Wignall) on March 17, 2017 (Original Goodreads Review)

This is a great wee book! I read the blurb and thought it would be an exciting, yet still scientific read and the author did not let me down.

It was great to see science, adventure, exploration and a bit a fantasy. It’s a very thrilling read as well. With all those bits thrown together, it is a book you are worried won’t meet the very high expectations you have for it, but this book and author have done very well to hold up their end and really make this book everything it claims to be and a bit more!

I liked the pace the book was set at. It really built up the excitement and kept the thrilling sections to a point where you were kept on your toes. It did also allow for a lot of the detail to show through, which was perfect. This is really where it kept up its scientific part for me. The level of detail it put into the surroundings and happenings was perfect. I would always be happy with a bit more, but I love science. It think it was a healthy amount, to make readers like myself happy and excited, but still be very enjoyable for those who aren’t fans of a lot of scientific terminology in their books.

Overall, the characters and detail in the world really created a book that was very interesting to read. It did keep my attention until the very end, and I found it both exciting and thought provoking. It is a great read and one I recommend.

**ARC provided and I chose to review

It’s a story about a group of geologists… (3 Stars)

By Kerstin Vollbrecht on March 15, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

It’s a story about a group of geologists that is called to investigate the massive appearance of holes affecting the zone of the Alaskan oil pipeline. During their investigation, they are confronted with the loss of people of their team due to the surging of demonic creatures that emerge from these precise holes they’re investigating.

The book starts with the scientific development of the information about the effect that those holes could have on the environment, to soon develop the shocking truth about what’s happening. The plot is very well developed, creating tension slowly as the story unfolds. The scientific description is exhaustive for the reader to understand the environmental implications of the phenomenon of the holes. With the emerging of the diverse demonic creatures, the story gets more and more intensity due to the fight of what remains of the original team not only to save themselves, but to stop these creatures to take over the world.

It’s a very interesting read and it unites science and supernatural elements.

Goodreads review (3 Stars)

By Stephanie on March 11, 2017 (Original Goodreads Review)
Dr. Jack Oswald is a geologist at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Just before classes are ready to begin for the semester, Jack receives an urgent call from Kevin Kowalski who works for ExxonMobil drilling oil. There have been a series of mysterious holes opening up around the drilling fields that are affecting operations. The holes are deep and perfectly cylindrical and just plain strange. Jack has been hired to investigate; he assembles his team consisting of his wife, Dr. Angela Menendez, a climatologist, two of his grad students Mark and Jill Starr, a wildlife biologist Bill Henderson and is cajoled into taking along Aileen O’Shannon, a photojournalist. When the team arrives in Deadhorse, they immediately get to work exploring the holes. However, upon closer examination of the holes, no explanation for the holes can be found. Then, disaster strikes and all hell is literally unleashed. Now, the research team turns instead to survival and perhaps sending the demons back to where they belong.

This was a fast-paced and short read that managed to combine climate science and supernatural horror in an effective way. The book is written from Jack’s point of view as a memoir of a survivor the attacks. The first part of the story is a bit of an info dump as Jack’s explains what he does, describes the fieldwork and his team’s hypotheses about the holes. As a scientist myself, I enjoyed reading about permafrost and pingos and liked that climate science is featured in a book. The story quickly picks up as hell breaks out on Earth. One character has a large surprise up their sleeve that may help the team out of the mess if they can accept their new reality. The different demons were all very interesting and I wish Bill could have continued his post mortem of the Hellhound. Since this is a memoir of events, there is not much characterization, but more focus on events. The story ends on quite a cliffhanger and with a sneak peek of book two at the end, I will definitely want to read on.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

Holes, holes everywhere!! (3 Stars)

By Amanda Kaye on January 18, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)

This is a very interesting book. All of a sudden hundreds of very huge holes show up in the ground in the Arctic Circle. As a result Jack, his wife, and others are hired by an oil company to investigate. The oil company is only worried about the stability of the Trans-Alaska pipeline but that should be the least of their worries.

This book has it all, action, danger, and a steady stream of Demons. Yes demons from a version of “Hell” (aka a place of evil). I love the actual science mixed into the story and it allows the book to be more interesting. While this is normally not my cup of tea I actually found myself enjoying this short read.

Science, Horror, Fantasy, Paranormal and Plenty of Action. (3 Stars)

By Olga Miret on November 24, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

I received a free ARC copy of the book, and I voluntarily decided to review it. I am also sharing this review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Hell Holes is an intriguing book and one difficult to classify. Set in Alaska, the prologue already gives us a hint about what is to come, but once we start reading the account written by Professor Jack Oswald, we get taken in by the mystery of the holes, and by the hypotheses suggested, sending us in the direction of science-fiction. The explanations and the possible scenarios are plausibly rendered and the fact that Oswald’s wife, Angie, studies the effect of climate change, add to the interest, although that line of investigation doesn’t last long.

The plot turns soon when the holes prove to be dangerous in more ways than one, and paranormal and fantastic elements become more important as the plot moves on. There are also horror elements, like the monsters and the destruction and killings, and we do get more than a few hair-raising moments.

As often happens with some of these genres, there is a fair amount of exposition, regarding the set-up of the different pump stations and oil fields, and later about the supernatural elements (as one of the characters is revealed to be completely different to what we thought at first sight). As there is a description of the different Hell inhabitants later on after the end of the story, it might feel somewhat repetitive.

The book is also very short, even more than it looks like when we check the pages, as the end comes at around 80% of the book length, and the rest is taken by a summary/description, a cast of hell characters, a brief biography of the author and a longish sample of the next book, that follows (with a slight overlap) from the first one. From the sample, we see that the second book in the series is narrated by Professor Oswald’s wife.

The novel (novella) is plot-driven, and once the chase is on, the book moves quickly and never lets off, and we don’t have much chance to notice that we do not know the characters in detail, and there is plenty of room for development. The first person narration would seem to allow for a more in depth knowledge of the main character, but although there are some glimpses of guilty feelings and a strong sense of responsibility that make Oswald come across as a good man, this is after all supposed to be an account written by him for other eyes, to do with facts not feelings, and it does not dwell much on subjective matters. There might be time to get to know the characters more during the series but one suspects that the action will continue taking pride of place in the next novels.

There are series where it doesn’t matter where you start reading (or it matters less and it’s possible to read any novel and enjoy it in its own right without feeling you’re missing the context). This is not the case here, as although the story seems to be told from different points of view in the different books, it is all the same story. And in case you hate cliff-hangers, the book ends up in a worrying twist/hook. But, fear not, because if you read the sample of the next book at the end, at least that hook is solved.

The book is an easy and quick read and an action-filled one that you’ll imagine as a TV series or a movie with no difficulty. If you’re a stickler for specific genres and strong characters it might not suit you, and you might question some of the details, but if you’re looking for an entertaining read that moves easily between genres, and don’t mind investing in a series, give it a try.

No Title. (3 Stars)

By Brianna on November 22, 2016 (Original Goodreads Review)

***Received this book in exchange for an honest review***

So you’re trying to break into the world of fiction writing. You could write something unoriginal but popular in an attempt at a cash grab. Or you could write something novel and entertaining. Kudos to Donald Firesmith (cool name) for going the second route.

This is a short book, so I finished in a couple of hours. If you dislike thick novels that you could use as a deadly weapon, Hell Holes is the book for you.

The idea was brilliant, the science was explained well without being obnoxious about it, and the description was generally vivid but not excessive.

I’d give this book 3.5 stars for a couple reasons. First, the rapid-fire way in which the characters died had no emotional impact for me. Especially Jill’s loss of Mark was practically impactless because she lived for like twelve hours after. We didn’t see her pain, her struggle to deal with the men who arguably were responsible for his death, etc. For me, this took a lot away from the story because I knew it was meant to be scary, or sad, but I hadn’t spent enough time with these characters to actually build an emotional connection. Second, the writing was quite weird in some places. This is to be expected with a first attempt at writing, and I tend to be a bit of a Nazi as far as general wording of things goes. Hopefully it will improve with time. Third, some things felt a bit rushed. It’s a short book but it could actually have slowed down a touch, especially near the end. Fourth, Aileen was very annoying to me in the first couple of chapters. The revelation that she is an ancient sorceress somewhat redeemed the character, but first impressions are very powerful.

The concept was very interesting to me, 5/5 on that front. It was original, scientifically plausible, intriguing, and challenging to my preconceptions and usual archetypes. I will be reading the next book I believe, to see what happens with Tutores Contra Infernum. Personally I hope they kill all the demons and then try to use that as a mandate to overthrow world governments and exert totalitarian control. It’s only a matter of time until the practical principles of magic are applied towards the killing or control of humans in addition to demons. Let’s see what happens. Good book.

[Author Note: The book has been updated so that Jill survives by being sent south in a car the team flags down on their way to Pump Station 2.]

Interesting story, but didn’t care much for the somewhat cliffie ending. (3 Stars)

By Lilyn G. (Sci-Fi & Scary) on March 1, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

The cover is pleasingly stark. I didn’t even notice the little man scaling down the side until I’d opened it up to a non-thumbnail size. It quite nicely fits this story, which is an unusual blend of modern science (no, I didn’t forget to put the word fiction after science) and fantasy. Hell-Holes read quick and easy, and at 108 pages, for someone who reads at an average speed, it should give you a couple hours of enjoyment.

I loved the premise and the way this book was written for the most part. The setting was perfectly described, the author didn’t use 100 words where 50 would suffice, and though I’m not at all versed in the science talked about, it ‘sounded’ believable enough that I had no problems with it. When the fantasy portion entered the story, there was only minor nose-wrinkling on my part. I liked that he did his best to keep the fantasy at a level that didn’t go into religious woo (which it could have easily done, given the premise of Hell Holes).

This was a pleasing read that entertained me right up until the end. The end didn’t really blow it for me, but it definitely made my enjoyment fizzle out. The author had stated in his original inquiry that he was working on book two of the series, so I was a bit nervous about getting a cliff-hanger at the end. Yep. While this one wasn’t as bad as some that I’ve read, where it feels like the story cuts off halfway through the interesting part, it definitely gives you a TV episode feel. You are given a complete short story in Hell Holes, don’t get me wrong, but then the author tacks on a mini cliffie that is meant to entice you into reading the next short in the series. That bugged me because, while I don’t mind reading related stories, suddenly it made this ‘complete’ short story feel incomplete. Let me sort of going “erm…but…” but it didn’t serve the purpose of enticing me to read more.

Overall, Hell Holes is worth the read, just keep in mind it does container a bit of a tease/cliff-hanger at the end, and if you’re not a fantasy fan, it’s got enough of that element that you probably won’t enjoy it.

Probably more a male oriented story but I enjoyed it non the less. (3 Stars)

By Karen Smith on June 25, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)

When I was contacted by the author to read this book I liked the premise, but wondered if it would be a bit too much science and not enough fantasy. I was right in my premise that it is more an action book rather than fantasy, so if you are after a full on fantasy novella you won’t get it in this. But if you want a story that could actually happen then read on… who knows what is buried deep in the earth.

The main characters are scientists along with a reporter, company and the Company Oil rep, not many will survive… which I liked, its a more true to life account of what probably would happen when all hell is let loose on the earth…. lots of people would die.

When the group travel one of huge holes that have appeared in the Oil fields in Alaska. They hope to figure out what is going on before an environmental disaster happens when one of them opens up under an oil well or the pipe lines that feed from it.

So I read it in one day, it was fast paced but there were a few things that bugged me – one Huge one was the first accident scenario… no spoilers but I as a simple person that has worked on sites of normal jobs where pipelines and oil are know that smoking is a no no, so I doubt that Real scientists or Oil Company employees would allow smoking anywhere where there were unexplained holes in the tundra!

When the action starts up in earnest you are swept up on the journey to survive and I did get into the book story line. But by the time I finished the story, I was left feeling that this book really should have been fused into the next book, its just a long played out scenario of the the first day of what is probably Armageddon. I do have book 2 to read, as the Author has kindly sent them together, so I will try slot the book in while this novella is fresh in my memory,

If you like serial book stories, and I can say I felt like I was reading a TV Serial script, then you will be fine waiting with the small cliffhanger, I have gotten used to them as they are everywhere but I still prefer standalone book stories, and tend to wait a while until more than one book is out before buying serial storylines. I know book 2 is out but if there are more and more parts then this is where I get frustrated with this style of drip fed story. I guess I will find out soon.

I hope that the author will explain more how certain characters kept our human world safe until this catastrophe. As in this book its more action and escape than really getting deep into the world which the story is set.

 

2 Star Reviews

Reads like the first effort of a college kid (2 Stars)

By CK on March 1, 2011 (Original Amazon Review)

Not particularly well written. Reads like the first effort of a college kid. Could have used an edit by a more experienced writer.
Tediously descriptive at times.
I do not enjoy first person. It is hard for a good writer to handle well, and it is not handled well here.
Long, awkward sentences often disrupt the flow.
Very short. The text ends abruptly mid-action at page 94. My ereader showed 123 pages, the remaining 30 pages being fill (a rather pointless list of the seven characters; a glossary of creatures; about the writer; what the next book contains etc).
And finally, the story is a bit trite. Demons and hellhounds coming out of holes in the ground to torment humanity. And to protect us – a gorgeous, but oh-so-old, sorceress (don’t call me a witch) and her secret society.
Don’t bother unless you can’t find anything better to read. I started on this because it was free and would have stopped at the tenth page had it not been so short.

 

1 Star Reviews

No title (1 Star)

By Doug Cornelius on May 24, 2017 (Original Goodreads Review)

That was terrible. Thankfully it was short. On the other hand it stopped short of a meaningful conclusion, merely being the first in a series. The dialogue was wooden. The characters were flat. The premise was interesting, but that’s about it.

Well, that was quick . . . political position staked out and shouted from the rooftops within 2 pages. What a turn-off! (1 Star)

By One Man’s Opinion on March 2, 2011 (Original Amazon Review)

If you must write on political positions, put it in a blog. Do NOT start preaching it at us within the first two pages of a thriller (or, for that matter, the first two HUNDRED, either). It doesn’t matter how certain you are that yours is the correct viewpoint, it doesn’t belong in this setting and is guaranteed to annoy/insult about half your potential readership.

I stopped reading at that point.

[Author’s note: Prior to this review, I would have said that there was nothing political in the book. My best guess is that the reviewer is referring to having a climatologist be part of the team studying the holes that appeared to be melted into the permafrost of Alaska mentioning Global Warming as a possible cause. Sigh.]

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