|5 Star Reviews||83||46%|
|4 Star Reviews||61||34%|
|3 Star Reviews||26||15%|
|2 Star Reviews||6||3%|
|1 Star Reviews||3||2%|
|4.2 Stars||180 Reviews||100%|
Because Amazon occasionally deletes reviews without explanation, a handful of the Amazon reviews below have links that no longer work. Because they don’t tell me which reviews they delete, I don’t know which reviews were deleted.
5 Star Reviews
83) John Muth’s Review ★★★★★
By John Muth on 30 September 2022 (Goodreads Review)
I met the author at a writer’s Conference in Pittsburgh this summer. I was sold on the story with the idea of demons appearing on earth only to be revealed that they’re actually aliens coming to take over rather than anything to do with bibles and heavens. And… that’s basically what the story is. Only then there’s the addition of mystical magic, or the close approximation (with a literal reference to Arthur C. Clarke’s famous comment on technology-magic) and it then became kind of confusing.
Also, while the story is easily digestible (as a short book only ~150 pages) it does feel fairly didactic as the author seems to be essentially relating the information he found in his research and not daring to hide any detail behind anything like artful language or with finesse. It’s very straightforward and not too deep in heart-felt emotion, and yet I still found myself caring (just the teensiest bit) about the characters. Granted this really comes more from them being smart, capable people who are trying to deal with something larger than themselves. But I did have to keep groaning and rolling my eyes at the subtle sexism and then the winks—and pretty much only winks—at calling it out. (Y’know for the kids!) But then it ends on a pretty good cliffhanger… and I closed the book with a smile on my face.
Also there’s illustrations and photos. The former I thought were cool—despite not quite matching the idea of what the text says, but artistic license—but the latter, which only appear in the back matter, seemed a little weird.
82) Hell of a book ★★★★★
By Greg Phelps on 26 August 2022 (Goodreads Review)
I stumbled across this book and loved it… a fast easy read that will leave you wanting more. It’s very well written and easy to visualize. Take a chance on this book. I did and did not regret it… hell of a book. lol.
81) Good Story ★★★★★
By Daryl on 1 January 2022 (Amazon US Review)
I enjoyed this story, interesting and fast-paced. I liked the basis of the story, taking an actual phenomenon and working the story around that. Will definitely be reading the next books.
80) Fast-paced fantasy book to kick off a series. ★★★★★
A fast-paced story, which sets the tone for Hell Holes, the story quickly moves from introducing characters to events being set in motion for the rest of the read. Having read this after another book by this author, Secrets of Hawthorne House, the feel for this book is different. While Secrets of Hawthorne House would remind me of stories where the characters face slight setbacks that are able to be resolved and fixed with some planning and teamwork, Hell Holes instead faces a growing crisis with little hope of good prevailing over evil.
Certainly going to be reading the next books in the series to know what happens next.
79) Brilliant ★★★★★
As with any of Donald’s books, this is brilliantly written with a fast pace, and it draws you in from the start, making it impossible to put down. The story itself is totally different from any other book I’ve read, [and] I read a lot, so this is something totally new for me, and I really like it, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book.
78) All H377 Unleashed On Mankind ★★★★★
This book is an excellent beginning to the trilogy. The author has successfully mixed science fiction, fantasy, and demonic horror, featuring sympathetic characters along the way. The women are as smart and capable as the men. Even the fantastical elements of the plot are portrayed believably enough that the action and suspense quickly rise to terror.
I’m heading straight for the next book in the series!
77) Buckle up, you are in for a wonderful wild ride with this book! ★★★★★
Mysterious humongous holes are appearing in the arctic. They look like someone used the world’s biggest cooking cutter and removed a huge amount of soil. But is it from something natural sinkhole? Or did someone create them? If so, how? The questions just keep coming with no reasonable answers on what could be causing it.
With surprising twists and turns, this book will have you sitting at the edge of your seat!
You will not be disappointed!
I received an advanced review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily!
76) Alien Wars ★★★★★
Excellent beginning to a story of a mysterious and dangerous alien attack as they force entry into the world from hell below.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
75) Fantastic ★★★★★
Jack, Mark, and Jill are listening to Angie’s presentation when the phone rings. Jack answers the phone and finds the oil executive on the other end needs help. Jack had worked with Kevin before and figured the work would be quick. The four friends pack their bags and head to where Kevin is. When they get there, they find several huge holes in the ground. Jack wasn’t sure what they were or what caused them but was eager to investigate. What they find will change them forever.
Intense, engaging, action-packed, terrifying, and unique. These are just some of the words that come to mind while reading this book. It’s very well written, and the characters are well defined. Mr. Firesmith takes you to a place you won’t recognize. He’s created a world we can’t even imagine. This book is a winner!
I found no issues.
I gave this one 5 cheers out of 5 because of the intensity of the story.
74) A Must Read ★★★★★
By Jonah Beachy on July 23, 2020 (Amazon US Review)
It’s one of those books that when you start reading by the third page you find yourself staying up late to finish the book. I can’t wait for the third book!
73) Great storyline ★★★★★
By Carole D. Hutchison on April 11, 2020 (Goodreads Review)
Totally different storyline and suspense throughout this story is totally remarkable and unexpected. The author covers many things that happen, and the suspense throughout this story is great. 👍👍👍
72) Exciting and fun ★★★★★
By Amy Dalton on July 25, 2019 (Amazon US Review)
I love this series. I hope Donald Firesmith keeps writing these books. I will keep reading them.
72) All hell breaks loose ★★★★★
By Michelle on October 5, 2019 (Goodreads Review)
Keeps you riveted from page one, dropping oil info and global warning information about the earth. Then comes the bloody attacks that keep the team on their toes from one bad accident to the invasion of wolf-like demons bent on eating their fill of the human race in order to wipe them out. The entire team is just one short step away from becoming lunch.
71) Exciting and fun ★★★★★
By Amy Dalton on July 25, 2019 (Amazon US Review)
I love this series. I hope Donald Firesmith keeps writing these books. I will keep reading them.
70) Would make an interesting miniseries or limited series ★★★★★
By Jerry L. Shannon on February 13, 2019 (Amazon US Review)
I honestly can’t remember how I came upon this short novel, probably via BookBub or something similar. I had never read anything by the author before, but I always like trying new authors. The only thing that gave me some hesitation, although slight, was the fact that it was available for “free” on Amazon. Most times that is done by new authors because they’ve actually written a series of books and are trying to entice the reader into buying the rest of the series. Well, if that was the strategy, in this case, it certainly worked for me.
This book could be classified as being part science-fiction, part horror, which is just dandy with me since I love both genres. Although the characters could probably use a little more background story, I didn’t see too much of a problem plunging right into the story. I’ve read some of the negative reviews on here and found their reasons to be a little childish, ranting about how dare the author inflict his liberal leanings into a story. Typical neo-con thumping and railing against the use of climate change as a (very minor) backdrop to the story. I’d say if you’re in the camp of climate change deniers, then I seriously doubt the author isn’t going to feel slighted over losing you as a reader.
All the political nonsense aside, I found the story to be engaging, interesting, and quite suspenseful. The horror aspect is very much present in the last half of the book, but it didn’t come across as gory or tasteless to me… just frightening. The demons that erupt from the hell hole are quite ruthless and bloodthirsty in their desire to destroy all humans. I didn’t want the story to end so soon, but fortunately, there is a continuation of the story in his next novel with a 3rd one also on the way. I very much enjoyed the book and you certainly can’t beat the price. For all those poor neo-cons who were so offended at the slightest hint of a liberal overtone to the book in spite of the fact that it was completely free and not a single one of their Trump dollars fell into the bleeding-heart hands of a liberal author, I would postulate that you should have just gotten over yourselves and enjoyed the story. Seriously, guys. I thought Michael Jackson was loony toons, but that certainly didn’t stop me from enjoying his music.
69) Excellent ★★★★★
Well, the first 3 chapters weren’t too engrossing. And you won’t probably read Donald Firesmith’s stuff for a couple of days. But you should give his work a second try. After the first 3 chapters, the book starts gathering up a lot of gravity, and the book sorta pulls you inside its own unique universe. The book finishes with an Ellipsis in your brain. Once you have completed the book, you can not stop marveling at the ideas put forth by Donald Firesmith.
68) Good Book ★★★★★
By Kindle Customer on January 28, 2019 (Amazon US Review)
This book was excellent and filled with so much action, even though it is the things of your worst nightmares. I really enjoyed the storyline and all of the characters.
67) This is a fun story! ★★★★★
By David F. Capps on December 1, 2018 (Amazon US Review)
While not my usual genre, this was a fun story. I enjoyed the plot and characters and am looking forward to the next book. The story moves right along and keeps you interested and engaged to the very end. Well done Donald Firesmith!
66) No Title ★★★★★
By EVA WHITE-NEPS on November 7, 2018 (Original Goodreads Review)
I am not really into fantasy/sci-fi type books (more of a murder/mystery type). Stumbled onto Hell Holes #1 and I am looking forward to reading #2. Good, fast read.
65) I Love This Book, it Kept me on my Toes ★★★★★
Very good book, very creative, mysterious, and spontaneous! I cannot wait to finish reading the second book in this series!
64) An impressive novel rich in science and details ★★★★★
By Tod with 1 D on September 6, 2019 (Amazon US Review)
This was a well-researched, well-written story that defies fitting into a single genre. Once the characters and background have been set up, the story moves along at a pretty fast clip. This is like the Saturday matinee serials of 60 years ago, with our team running into cliffhangers every few pages, then managing to escape – just in time for the next awful trap to be sprung. I am looking forward to the next book in this series. Highly recommended.
63) Couldn’t put it down ★★★★★
By William H. on August 8, 2018 (Amazon US Review)
Loved it, gripping story with an unusual setting. ALASKA!
62) Leaves you wanting more ★★★★★
By Elle Kay on July 6, 2018 (Amazon US Review)
Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. Fast-paced exciting scyfy, paranormal thriller. Nothing better than being chased by demons crawling out of hell holes. Can’t wait for book number two!
61) Works ancient demons into alien invasion ★★★★★
By gg on July 4, 2018 (Amazon US Review)
Constant action, interesting characters
60) An exciting read! ★★★★★
Geology professor, Dr. Jack Oswald, his wife Dr. Angela Menendez, and grad students, Jill and Mark Starr, are suddenly called to investigate a bizarre phenomenon in the Arctic Circle. Tagging along with them is a beautiful young photojournalist named Aileen O’Shannon. When they arrive at the location, the group sees for themselves a massive hole that had appeared overnight. It isn’t long into their investigation that things go to pot very quickly. What they find is the last thing anyone of them had ever expected—with the exception of O’Shannon, who is much more than she leads people to believe. Which is good for them, ‘cause the group will need her assistance and skills if they’re to survive what’s coming for them and everyone else on earth!
This book was a fantastic read. I like any story that I can envision being a movie or TV show. Aileen O’Shannon is an interesting character, who has a very intriguing past that I hope to learn more about in the next installment. I recommend this book to anyone.
59) Mysterious and Exciting ★★★★★
By James Kindle Customer on June 5, 2018 (Amazon US Review)
Plausible characters and fast-paced actions placed in a familiar setting result in an enjoyable read. I definitely want to see this story to its conclusion.
58) I am glad I did ★★★★★
By Victoria on June 1, 2018 (Amazon US Review)
Not what I usually read, but I thought I would try a different genre. I am glad I did. Hell Holes came complete with enough action to keep me interested. Enough to make me wonder what happens next.
57) What causes many of the happenings in nature? ★★★★★
By ClovieD on May 29, 2018 (Amazon US Review)
We understand much but not everything. Science explains how earthquakes happen, how tornadoes form, or even what can happen from global warming. But what if there was another explanation for the sudden appearance of sinkholes? An unearthly explanation? A different type of nature? This book is one of those possibilities. READ it!!!!
56) Good read ★★★★★
This book was full of surprises. [I] enjoy[ed] reading it. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Can’t wait to read book two.
55) This book could be listed as a horror ★★★★★
By gradymurry on April 7, 2018 (Amazon US Review)
This book could be listed as a horror read. The story was great, flowed well, [and] was well written. Full of action and twists to keep you, [the] reader, interested.
54) Unleash the Hounds ★★★★★
Donald G. Firesmith impressed me with laying out a relatable world told from Dr. Oswald’s perspective a geologist that doesn’t speak in over-the-head technobabble that usually keeps me away from reading Sci-Fi or Fantasy. “Hell Holes: What Lurks Below”, starts out with Dr. Oswald, his wife and colleague Dr. Angela Menendez ( climatologist ) along with newlyweds and grad students Mark and Jill Star tasked to investigate suddenly appearing holes in Alaska’s North Slope.
The mission request comes from Kevin Kowalski, an ExxonMobil manager who tags along during the field study along with a field biologist, Dr. Bill Henderson, and reporter Aileen O’Shannon. Chapter one sets up “What Lurks Below” for the reader to ask questions about what is creating these holes, is it dangerous for the planet does it have to do with climate change? Who is this Aileen O’Shannon she doesn’t seem to be a real reporter and why does Kevin Kowalski come off as incompetent? I get shades of John Carpenter’s The Thing with Ennio Morricone playing in the background as I was trying to guess what and when the twist was coming. Without giving away too much away after tragedy strikes “What Lurks Below” turns into fun fast-paced sci-fi / paranormal story. While the characters do depend on magic and bullets, it’s their intellect that shines and sometimes hinders which makes them realistic and refreshing.
During the chaos of this book, it ends on a cliffhanger; it is a short read with twists and turns no need for a request to review the next book “Demons on the Dalton (Hell Holes #2)” it’s already on my TBR list.
53) Enjoyable ★★★★★
By Amazon Customer on February 24, 2018 (Amazon Australia Review)
52) A team of scientists checks out mysterious holes in Alaska… ★★★★★
A team of scientists check out mysterious holes in Alaska and find themselves battling hellhounds, imps, and even more deadly supernatural creatures.
When I read Hell Holes #1 (What Lurks Below) I had mixed feelings about posting a review. I figured, “So far, so good”, but questioned whether the next one in the series would continue just as good (or even raise the bar), or fizzle.
So I purchased Hell Holes #2 (Devils on the Dalton), was fully engaged in it from the first sentence and read it all in one day. Thus a five-star review for this one.
Read the books in order. This one was free on Amazon. The second one is $1.24 Canadian on Amazon. A third one is on the way. Win-Win any way you look at it.
51) Demons, hell hounds, bats, craters, and more… ★★★★★
By Marie Seltenrych on February 13, 2018 (Amazon Australia Review)
Demons, hell hounds, bats, craters and more are obstacles the Team must confront to get to the bottom of the mysterious hole. Can these be simple Pingo holes (previously covered in ice) or has a meteor caused this phenomenon? Can Latin idioms help or hinder the mission? From the sky to the deepest earth… who will survive at 200 feet down…
50) That’s the Hell of it! ★★★★★
I can’t stand it when I’m reading a really great thriller, and all of a sudden, I turn the page and find THE END, and I don’t have the sequel close at hand!
So, I recommend this thriller, What Lurks Below (Hell Holes, Book #1) by Donald G. Firesmith for your reading pleasure, but warn you to get Hell Holes, Book #2 ready to read!
You will be very glad you did!
49) None of them know that these holes are much worse than could be imagined ★★★★★
What Lurks Below by Donald G. Firesmith is the first book in the Hell Holes series. This book in narrated by a geologist. He has been asked to come and determine what is causing holes to suddenly appear in the Alaskan tundra and Exxon Mobil is worried that the holes will interrupt oil drilling and piping. The geologist, along with his wife and two grad students, agree to investigate. Before they leave, a photographer for a local newspaper hitches a ride with them to take pictures of their study. None of them know that these holes are much worse than could be imagined. The only person who knows what is going on has a big secret to share.
This fast-paced story sucks you right in from the beginning. It manages to explain quite a few geological terms without slowing down the story. The twists in the plot come in rapid succession and by halfway through the book, you are hooked. Although you only have part of the background, the story gives you enough for you to understand what is going on. I hope that book two gives more background to each character and the situation they have found themselves in. The cliffhanger ending leaves you wide-eyed with shock and horror. I greatly enjoyed reading this book and cannot wait to find out what happens next.
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.”
48) What Lurks Below is filled with so much action adrenaline pumping and horror that it will have you sweating way before it’s over. ★★★★★
When I first started reading What Lurks Below, [it] started out slow like and it was kinda hard to get into. It starts out reading like a textbook, and I was like I didn’t sign up for this. But I kept reading telling myself to come on give it a chance you just got started. So I kept reading and then the next thing I knew, the words were exploding off the pages at me and I was racing through it.
Dr. Oswald, a professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, gets a phone call from a Mr. Kowalski asking for his help up on the North Slope near the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. There are these big holes opening up all over the place, which could spell disaster for the oil companies if they don’t figure out real quick like what is going on and try to put a stop to it.
Dr. Oswald gathers up his team, which includes his wife Dr. Menendez two students, Mark Starr and his wife Jill Starr, and head out for the oil fields. They get themselves a new crew member along the way one photographer Aileen O’Shannon, a very attractive young woman who finagles her way into their expedition that has the wives of the two men keep close eyes on this one so she doesn’t forget that their husbands are off-limits.
As I said, What Lurks Below did take off on slow start but once they reached the first gigantic hole it was on then. More holes started popping up all around them taking all their vehicles and campsite and things coming out of it like you wouldn’t believe. They all took off like the demons from hell were coming up out of those holes. The characters’ adrenaline was pumping but so was mine. The words started popping off the page, hitting me in the face the moment the explosions started, and I could just feel the heat coming off them. It was as if I was right there with all the characters running for my life with the demons and heat from the explosions on my heels wondering if we were going to make it out alive.
The summary for What Lurks Below does not in any way do this book justice at all. What Lurks Below is filled with so much action, adrenaline-pumping, and horror that it will have you sweating way before it is over.
I would recommend What Lurks Below to anyone who loves to see the words of a book exploding off the pages at you.
47) A most excellent novel / Want to know how to get to hell? ★★★★★
By Clinton Sites on January 22, 2018 (Goodreads Review):
A most excellent novel – the author takes an unexplained natural phenomenon and builds a solid science fiction/fantasy novel.
The protagonists’ academic backgrounds are well explained and established, and so are the secondary characters. Each person that is met during the course of the novel is fleshed out to a point that they are real to the reader – even if they don’t survive very long.
The descriptions of the situations that they experience and how they survive them are described realistically – and the characters’ development goes from comfortable to survival mode in an intelligent manner.
By Clinton Sites on January 14, 2018 (Original Amazon Review):
One of the mysteries of this world is the strange holes being found in Siberia – perfectly circular, deep, and no evidence of the excavated earth! What is causing them and how?
This novel is about a team sent to explore the same phenomenon occurring in the Alaskan tundra above the Arctic Circle. The holes are threatening the Alaskan pipeline and oil pumping infrastructure. Apart than the fact that I can say no more than the team finds more than they want to without giving away anything – just imagine you found a way to hell and are being chased by demons – take your imagination from there.
46) What’s below ★★★★★
By Cheryl on January 11, 2018 (Original Amazon Review)
Great writing. I was glued to my book. I love reading the paranormal but haven’t read anything like this. Will be reading more about this.
45) Wow, scary stuff and action that grabs you by the innards! ★★★★★
Amazon: This is my first book by Donald Firesmith, but I can assure you, it won’t be the last. I highly recommend this highly entertaining story. And I don’t bandy compliments easily. While the story develops quickly, the characters were well thought out, and I had tears flowing at one particular tragic event. These characters start out on a scientific endeavor that quickly becomes something else entirely. The story unfolds and becomes very gritty and visceral as survival becomes the focus. No spoilers here, but you will be totally absorbed in reading this. I could not stop reading and read this in one sitting. Bravo to Donald Firesmith on a total immersion read that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Buy this; you will be rewarded.
Goodreads: Loved this book. I like real science mixed in with real-world things that occur on the globe. Mix in possible supernatural and/or worse and you have my interest. The author did an excellent job of keeping me reading this story in one sitting, not easily done with me. No spoilers here but good character development and things start on mundane but very interesting; very quickly this story develops into a gritty and visceral fight to survive. This earned 5 well-earned stars, and I will be reading this author’s further books in this series or trilogy (I hope). Bravo! Well done. I highly recommend this book.
44) I loved it! I’ve read it twice ★★★★★
By Zippy Inger on January 1, 2018 (Original Amazon Review)
I loved it! I’ve now read it twice! Starts off nice and smooth. Then POW! All hell breaks loose. Great characters that are very likable. Though the Demons not so much. The main male character, Dr. Jack Oswald narrates this book. He is such a nice guy and very smart. His wife is equally nice and smart as well. It reads at a fast pace and is very well written with a lot of action. You can see it all happen as you read. I recommend it and can’t wait for more. “I received a complimentary ARC copy for an honest review.” Which I gave.
43) Loved it ★★★★★
By JillsTempted on January 1, 2018 (Original Amazon Review)
I loved this story. Very original take on the portal to hell storyline. The characters are richly drawn and are very relatable. Quick-paced action left me anxious to see what happened next! Can’t wait to read book 2. Loved it!!
42) Hell Holes, Book 1 is an AWESOME read!! ★★★★★
Forget Zombies!! The Demons from Hell are TOTALLY, more scary!! A fast and furious read, very hard to put down, until the very end!!
Our intrepid group has gone to find out, why monstrous holes are opening in the ground, around the Northwest oil pipelines. The first loss of life will scare you silly!! A MUST-READ!!
41) Who says hell has frozen over ★★★★★
By Norman Hirshman on December 27, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
Interesting book with a cross between fantasy and SF. Holes start appearing in Alaska near oil wells and Dr Jack Oswald is called in to investigate. With his wife and 2 grad students and an unexpected female photojournalist Aileen O’Shannon. As they land at one of the holes things start going from bad to worse. They find out that Aileen is really a guardian who has been protecting the humans for many years against the invasion from hell.
They are able to flee but it appears that worse things await them. Guess need to read book 2 to see what happens 🙂
40) A Great New Read! ★★★★★
By Book Addict’s Reviews on December 22, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
It is a unique concept that kept me on my toes! I enjoyed Firesmith’s writing and the characters he created for this world. The pacing is fairly fast, but I was able to keep up with the story and how it was being developed. A really great read!
39) No Title ★★★★★
By Nadine Chucri on December 20, 2017 (Original Am Kinda Busy Reading!! Review)
I read both books quite quickly back to back! I think each came to around a couple of hundred pages on my kindle and for me, that is a short quickie read!
My question is when do we get book 3?
Back to the books at hand and I have to say that I really liked them, I loved the storyline quite a lot and we have also some fantastic characters. My favorite is Aileen, nothing wrong with Jack and Angela but Aileen really stood out for me from the get-go!
As I said, I loved the plot and I found it really original, it is not every day that big black holes appear in the earth, especially around the north part of the planet, plus you make demons come out of them and you have me being a very happy girl!
But as I was reading and thinking about it, I was wondering why Alaska, Siberia, and other parts that are far north? Let me explain so in the story those holes appear there and we even have a logical convo as to why they did not show in Antarctica.
But why not around the Equator? central Europe? Southeast Asia? I don’t get it.. the demons created those holes to attack us, wouldn’t they then go for more densely packed populated areas? Maybe I missed something, it is possible….
But other than that, in the books we had everything! Fights, magic, smart quips, battles, gruesome deaths… pretty much what I enjoy best!
Honestly, I finished them too quickly and I felt like I wanted much more, or maybe there could have been room for more in each book.
So if I recall correctly, both books cover a handful of days since page 1 and considering the fact that now humans are at war with demons, it makes me wonder how big this series is going to be. I am not saying that in any negative way, but know some series are planned from the get-go to be a certain number of books so it would put my mind at ease if I knew as well so that I can understand the pace and the timeline better. I am nosy like that I like to plan these things out!
So if you are like me and you love action-packed battle with demons, then these 2 books (with more to come) are certainly for you! Plus Aileen is so so so awesome, it well worth the read for her alone! Those books are really easy and quick to read and really enjoyable!
I am going to highly recommend them and hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
38) ? Deviliciously Spellbinding ? ★★★★★
Inconspicuous innocent is the way this book starts, with a character introduction through a fairly normal situation. It deceptively appears as if that would be the way this story was portrayed. I must admit I felt a sting of disappointment, but luckily, this was a wrongful conclusion by me. Cause all of a sudden, it all goes up in a boom, and it literally explodes with exciting and thrilling events and danger. Unexpected events take place at a pace that makes for the equivalent of a reader’s adrenaline rush. Un-put-downable! What a thrill! I love it! I need more!
About the Author: Amazing creative way to capture the reader’s attention, very well and cleverly written. Hats off, and keep writing stories like this, and you’re bound to be put in the hall of fame with S. King, Dean R Koontz, and the other immortalized Creators.
37) What Lurks Below ★★★★★
Amazon: One of the best books read in a while; gripping edge of seat reading and a great new writer. I would put Mr. Firesmith right up there with Cussler or Koontz.
Goodreads: I now have a new writer to look forward to. I would put him right up there with [Clive] Cussler or [Dean] Koontz.
36) I love action/adventure books ★★★★★
By Terri Lewis on December 5, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
I love action/adventure books. Hell Holes: What Lurks Below was very good book. It kept me on my toes waiting to find out which direction an attack was coming from. I felt like the book ended far too soon.
35) Hell Holes: What Lurks Below ★★★★★
By Sharon N on December 2, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
Wow. My heart is still racing. Read this book in one sitting. It ends with a second book that I am about to start as soon as I finish this review. Donald Firesmith has just become another favorite author. From investigating a strange hole to running for their lives you are mesmerized by this book. Strange creatures add to the suspense.
34) Will get the 2nd book! ★★★★★
By Sam Stokes on November 30, 2017 (Original Amazon UK Review)
Interesting read! Liked it, something a bit different but still the end of the world! Will get the 2nd book!
33) Fantastic! ★★★★★
I surprised myself by LOVING this book. It is rare that I indulge by reading books with a horror leaning and even rarer that I enjoy them. This book, however, gripped me at once, causing me to read it in one sitting. The heart-stopping action begins nearly immediately and doesn’t quit. The author writes in a style that does not appear contrived. Personally, I would not let anyone under 16 read this since I believe horror is most suited for a mature audience, but for myself, I cannot wait to read the next book in the set!
32) Exciting! ★★★★★
By Jennifer on November 10, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
It’s the most exciting book I have ever read. It’s only book one, but so far, it’s great!
It’s about this guy named Jack who was a geology professor in Alaska. He had a wife, and the two of them get recruited to investigate these “holes” which opened up overnight in Alaska. They bring two of their best students, Mark and his wife, Jill. They go with the man who recruited them and a reporter who, as it turns out, has secrets of her own. They are joined by another man who has experience with some of what’s in the holes.
What is in the holes? What caused them? Do they escape from whatever is in the holes?
Read this book, then, if you like it, read book two. I give this book 5 stars!!!
31) Well written ★★★★★
Amazon and Goodreads: I really enjoyed this book and cannot wait to start the next one. It was well written and an easy read. Anyone who loves science fiction or horror would love this book.
30) This is one fine read!!! ★★★★★
Amazon: This is a really, really good book to read. I was completely enthralled and did not want it to end! Must read more by this author. I hope he keeps writing books as good as this one, and I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did! Happy reading 🙂
Goodreads: Wow! Such an exciting and well-written book! I did not want it to end. Now I want to read everything this author has written! Seriously good book here, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Happy reading!
29) “War of the Worlds” meets “The Day after Tomorrow” ★★★★★
By Aoife Marie Sheridan on October 10, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
This book right off the bat reminded me of “The day after tomorrow & war of the worlds.” It just had that feel to it, and I love both these films.
We all just might get to see Hell Holes on the big screen. Right now, scriptwriters are working on it, you can read the [outline of the first draft script] on Donald Firesmith’s website.
I have read the script also; it does vary from the book, and I can’t say which one I like more as both to me are great. The premise, of course, is the same, its small details minor character changes but overall the same amazing story.
I’m not great when it comes to science or climate change topics, but the way Mr. Firesmith explains the earth’s movements and reasons for the large holes opening up made sense, and I felt a little more educated. Not that any reason was able to explain the hell holes, but the group discussing their theories and then showing the holes within that theory, I really liked.
I did feel that the start was like real life per se, and the second half was fantasy, magic, and monsters. But it worked very well, the only downside to the whole book was the ending it was a huge cliffhanger so now I’m off to buy book two, to see what happens. I do feel that the second book will be more on the fantasy side than the first, but I will have to wait and see.
Overall a fast and exciting read that I would recommend to all fantasy and sci-fi readers.
28) Five Stars ★★★★★
By Mary Little on October 10, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
I love the book; thank you Amazon. And the author of this book, awesome.
27) Great plot with believable characters! ★★★★★
By Jeri J. & Rich Walker on October 3, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
Very exciting, but way too short. Highly recommend this book; can’t wait to read the next one. Do yourself a favor and get this book.
26) YEAH FREE BOOK! ★★★★★
By SharpAnlace on September 22, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
I like free books
25) A very good storyline ★★★★★
By Welly (Manual Escuder) on September 9, 2017 (Original Amazon UK Review)
The story begins with what looks like a normal expedition to investigate some geological phenomena which may threaten oil production. It quickly evolves into something a lot more sinister and ends on a cliffhanger. Book 2 is a must!!
24) Great Story! ★★★★★
By Jacqueline Jackson on July 27, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
Interesting mixture of science and the occult. The action was well written and engaging. It needs to be edited, but overall it was a good book.
23) Holy whatever!! ★★★★★
By Avid book(devouring)worm on July 12, 2017 (Original Amazon Canada Review)
Now THIS is a story!! Witnessing the birth of an author with as much imagination as Stephen King and J. K. Rowling combined! I swore off buying any more books, but I’ll admit that oath just got demolished. Without remorse.
22) The storyline was very good ★★★★★
By Patty Beaty on May 14, 2017 (Original Goodreads Review)
The storyline was very good, it held my interest from beginning to end. I discovered moments ago, much to my delight, that 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…
21) Very interesting book ★★★★★
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.
20) Hell Holes! ★★★★★
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.
19) Great start ★★★★★
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 storyline 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 nongeeky. 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 cliffhanger and I can’t wait to see what happens in book 2.
18) Couldn’t Put It Down!!! ★★★★★
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!!!
17) What a cool story idea. ★★★★★
By MoBookWorm on January 20, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
A very scary and exciting read. I enjoy the mix of science and scare the heck out of me. [I’ll] definitely be reading book 2 to see what the heck happened next! Glad I discovered this story!
16) A Fast-Paced Thriller ★★★★★
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 breath 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.
15) James Rollins watch out! ★★★★★
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!
14) Wonderfully Scary Adventure! ★★★★★
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.
13) A Very Well Written Book ★★★★★
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.
12) No Title ★★★★★
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.
11) A Unique Action/Adventure Story ★★★★★
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.
10) Urban Fantasy? Science Fantasy? ★★★★★
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 that 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.
9) Super, Fun, Imaginative Page Turner! ★★★★★
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.
8) No Title ★★★★★
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………………
7) Intense and relevant to our climate-changing world. ★★★★★
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.
6) No Title ★★★★★
By Karen L. Taylor on April 10, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)
Very well written, very interesting pre and post paranormal. Looking forward to reading the second book.
5) Great airplane read! ★★★★★
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!!!
4) This little book packs quite a punch. ★★★★★
By firstname.lastname@example.org 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, …..
3) Hell Holes – What Lurks Below ★★★★★
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 is 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.
2) Not only modern fantasy science fiction but also action and adventure ★★★★★
By Pavel H. on April 30, 2016 (Original Amazon Review)
I like the scientific underpinnings of the book, similar to Michael Crichton’s style, reflecting the author’s computer science background, in a blend with the 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 a recommendation, if you start reading this book, you will read the sequels, for sure.
1) Great read ★★★★★
By Dale M. Baranoski on 4 August 2016 (Original 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
61) Sam’s Review ★★★★☆
A good start to this exciting, apocalyptic series! A great selection of characters & a terrifying idea for the story line. A good plot, some nasty bits only to be expected in horror! I am looking forward to the next part! I do recommend for lovers of this genre!
60) A page-turner to keep you up at night. ★★★★☆
By Amazon Customer on 5 June 2022 (Amazon US Review)
I love the blend of realism with speculative fiction and how science blends into magic and which is which may be a matter of perspective. But at its core, this is at times a heart-pounding tale of “here come the monsters. Oh God, how do we get out of here? They just ate Bill.” And for an exciting summer read, that’s perfect for me.
59) A wonderful book but an awesome mind ★★★★☆
By James H. on 3 June 2021 (Amazon US Review)
I was able to meet with the author and was shocked and awe with his work. [It] was a quick read. I could not put this book down. Great characters, plot, and the hole thing was a very awesome read. [I am] looking forward to seeing him again and what he has in store for the future.
59) Renee’s Review ★★★★☆
By Renee on 8 May 2021 (Goodreads Review)
While this book was very good and well written, it felt like it was missing something that I can’t quite put my finger on. The characters are slightly stereotypical, but that’s what you expect in horror novels, and I found myself enjoying them once they actually started getting along and working together. These apocalypse-style novels are generally full of tropes, and this doesn’t fall far from the norm, but there’s something about it that has character underneath that. The magic system seems to be still developing through the series, and while it’s basic it’s fun. I think ultimately while I did enjoy it, it felt like there wasn’t enough substance, which is why I’m leaning towards like a 4.5/5 instead of a 5. The chapters, while long, there aren’t many of them, and although I know it’s a series there’s a lot of time spent on characters that end up being temporary, while it feels like there’s a lack of buildup to the inciting event. Still, great book, I just want more out of it!
58) An interesting entertaining story ★★★★☆
An interesting, well-written story, starts as a geological mystery and then becomes Armageddon, an entertaining read with great characters, intelligence, and the scientific method. I would have liked a longer story but am looking forward to reading book 2, which I already have. Highly recommended.
57) Elaine’s Review ★★★★☆
By Elaine Bishop on 4 January 2021 (Goodreads Review)
Good book, lays the groundwork for books 2 and 3. The premise is fighting the demons, and other monsters IN Hell, not the ones that came from there as most other books do. I also read books 2 and 3 respectively and loved them, especially the end of 3.
56) Kylie’s review ★★★★☆
By Kylie on 28 November 2020 (Original Goodreads Review)
More like 3.5 stars, but rounded up as I want to continue with the series which is always a good sign.
This is a very interesting book as it really does embrace a range of genres. This can be off-putting for those who prefer a more pure genre, but it does work. Sci-fi (more science), fantasy and a very strong link to horror are the key areas, and within fantasy you have the supernatural side of things, with demons from hell (as one would expect, it being about hell holes and all).
When it begins, we are introduced to our narrator, Jack Oswald, who says ominously …before the war, I was a geology professor… So you know that something – some war – is coming. He is married to Angie, a research scientist and environmentalist, and they work closely with two grad students, Mark and Jill.
When Jack gets the call that strange holes are appearing in Alaska, with no known cause, they all set off to investigate. With them goes a photojournalist who appears from nowhere, and is very beautiful. It isn’t hard to see that there is something about her that will be revealed.
And so they arrive, and so they begin their exploration, and – as this is really a novella at 164 pages – the action ramps up super fast. You really want to know how they are going to survive – and what the ‘war’ will be that is referred to way back at the beginning.
Note – there is a fair amount of horror gore in some of the descriptions, but I personally didn’t find it too much. There is also a decent amount of science discussion at the start, which some readers might not find as engaging – that doesn’t continue in quite that detail, so push through it if the other themes are of interest!
One area that kept it from being a five-star review is that, because of being a shorter novel, there wasn’t quite the level of details I would have liked about a couple of things, such as where Aileen O’Shannon is really from (you learn where, but it is kind of rushed over, perhaps this is also because it is first-person). Of course, more may be revealed as the story continues!
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
55) A very compelling story ★★★★☆
A gripping story with interesting characters. The monsters are terrifying and realistic. The pacing was very good and had me turning the pages. I think it’s interesting when the adversaries are fierce and daunting, but fallible. The author provided a compelling tale with plenty of action.
54) Margaret’s Review ★★★★☆
By Margaret on 13 November 2020 (Original Goodreads Review)
Donald Firesmith’s, Hell Holes: What Lurks Below, is a supernatural horror short read whose chilling plot built up anxious excitement as the gore and a shocking death were unfolded. The first three chapters were an educational and detailed read. Interesting, but I was ready for some scary fantasy exploring adventure. What made the holes and why? I kept asking.
Once the action began I couldn’t stop reading! There was an abrupt ending but that didn’t matter because I am ready for book two! Great writing! Well done!
I received an ARC of this book free from BookSirens and this is my voluntary honest review.
53) Amazing and intriguing story. ★★★★☆
The storyline of Hell Holes: What Lurks Below was a very gripping and filled adventure and full of surprises that will amaze you.
I liked the way the author, Donald Firesmith, has described all the characters in detail, along with the action scenes in a very creative and imaginative way, which made it the most exciting book to read.
The storyline is very engaging and written in a lucid language that makes the book intriguing and easy to understand. Also, the story has a smooth flow which will keep you hooked to the book and will make you wanna read the next book instantly.
52) Hell on Earth ★★★★☆
I received this book as a free download from the author after reviewing his book, The Secrets of Hawthorne House.
This book was a fun read. It was intriguing, and I like apocalyptic stories. But this one seemed much more realistic than a lot of the other ones I have read, as the locations are real, and the people seemed to be average people.
A geological team is called up by an ExxonMobil employee named Kowalski to conduct studies on some holes that are sprouting up around oil fields. The team is comprised of Kowalski, who is out of his element in the wilderness, as well as Bill, his biologist, who is a former Army Ranger, the husband and wife teams of geologist Jack Oswald and climatologist Angie Menendez and their geology grad students Mark and Jill Star, also husband and wife, and a photographer, who leeches on, named Aileen O’Shannon. They investigate the first hole they find, and at some point, hellhounds start coming out of the hole, and they begin to terrorize the area. The team escapes to a pump station, where they get supplies to continue on with their escape.
I can’t wait to see how the series evolves.
51) Mark Nutter’s Review ★★★★☆
By Mark Nutter on March 31, 2020 (Original Goodreads Review)
Dr. Jack Oswald is a geologist recruited by an oil company to investigate huge holes in the ground mysteriously appearing in Alaska. I don’t want to spoil the story by telling you what Jack and his team discover, but the book’s title should give you a clue. I enjoyed the mayhem that ensues, even though it took a while to get started and made me wish for more tension and conflict at the beginning. Nevertheless, it’s a rousing read that leads breathlessly into the next book, Hell Holes 2.
50) A good read, especially at the introductory price of *Free* ★★★★☆
I can’t quite say I couldn’t put it down, but it was pretty close, once I got started. The premise of the story was different, but entirely reasonable, from a sci-fi perspective. The writing was done well, no typos or misuse of words (think there & their). All in all, very enjoyable…even the cliffhanger on the last page.
49) An Exciting Read! ★★★★☆
This book surprised me with where the story went. it was full of excitement and gore. I was shocked throughout the story. The author has a vivid imagination, and you will be entertained [with] this book.
48) An enjoyable read ★★★★☆
By Kimmyshemy06 on May 29, 2018 (Original Amazon Review)
With consistently-fast pacing, the book is told in the first-person perspective of Professor Jack Oswald. It is intriguing and suspenseful and as soon as the action began, it didn’t stop until the last page of the book. Quite unpredictable and with surprising revelations, this book is perfect for paranormal, suspense, and thriller fans.
47) I liked the scientific elements of this book ★★★★☆
I liked the scientific elements of this book, it was interesting to learn what they were talking about in regards to global warming, sinkholes, and whatnot. It also showed the Author had put in the time to do his research. It was short but it felt like the right amount of pages, you could tell the first was just an introduction to the rest of the series. Highly interested in carrying on reading. Demon apocalypse seems like an interesting story concept. The story leaves you going ooh, what going to happen? Do they survive? Do humans survive?
Overall, I would highly recommend this book. It is short enough to give it a try if you are sitting on the fence. I believe the author is trying to make it into a movie, believe they are making it a script as we speak.
46) Solid Science Meets the Supernatural ★★★★☆
Murder, Mayhem, and More Review: This is the first episode in an ‘intelligent adventure’ series (‘Hell Holes’), which mixes the heft of heavyweight geology and climate science with the demons of the underworld unbound, in all their slavering ferocity. It’s a genre-bending bonanza of science, speculative fiction, and supernatural action, a nifty idea that would make a perfect movie pitch. Think Jurassic Park but with wolven hellhounds taking the place of the velociraptors, and a sky full of giant flying demonic bat-monsters. As you might expect, much running and shouting ensue…
What Lurks Below is a short novel that fair stomps along, from the initial alarm, when giant sinkholes start appearing in the Alaskan wilderness and threaten billion-dollar oilfields, to its pell-mell scramble for survival in the later chapters. We meet the expert geologist, his climate-specialist wife, and their grad students, who team up with the oil company exec, a survival specialist, and an unexpected journalist who tags along for the ride. She, it transpires, knows more about the hell holes than the geologists do…
This feels like an indie author’s early work, and it shows in the writing. In the early chapter, it leans heavily on big lumps of background information, where the serious-sounding science is delivered in meaty lectures. Then the tone changes dramatically as the supernatural angle kicks in, and the more unfortunate members of the team fall as sacrificial red shirts to various voracious beasts. Can’t say I cared much about most of them; the only character who felt completely realized was Aileen, the long-lived woman of mystery.
What Lurks Below is almost two short books in one, as if someone grafted together Jodie Foster’s Contact and Vin Diesel’s Pitch Black. Readers who are looking for the rampant action of the latter might not enjoy the scholarly pace of the former. I preferred the more measured approach of the first half (although even I thought that the students kept wittering on about their theses just a little too much).
SPOILER ALERT! Many readers don’t enjoy books that finish on a cliff-hanger, to drag you back for the second installment, so I feel honor-bound to say that What Lurks Below leaves the reader at a completely crucial moment. But it’s not like you have to wait a couple of years for author Donald Firesmith to write the next one: if you enjoyed the experience you can immediately grab the second in the series, Demons On The Dalton which is out now.
A rapid read; ideal if you’re looking for bite-sized entertainment.
Original Amazon UK and Goodreads Review: This is the first episode in an ‘intelligent adventure’ series (‘Hell Holes’), which mixes the heft of heavyweight geology and climate science with the demons of the underworld unbound, in all their slavering ferocity.
It’s a genre-bending bonanza of science, speculative fiction, and supernatural action, a nifty idea that would make a perfect movie pitch. Think Jurassic Park but with wolven hellhounds taking the place of the velociraptors, and a sky full of giant flying demonic bat-monsters. As you might expect, much running and shouting ensue…
What Lurks Below is a short novel that fair stomps along, from the initial alarm when giant sinkholes start appearing in the Alaskan wilderness and threaten billion-dollar oilfields, to its pell-mell scramble for survival in the later chapters.
This feels like an indie author’s early work, and it shows in the writing. In the early chapter, it leans heavily on big lumps of background information, where the serious-sounding science is delivered in meaty lectures. Then the tone changes dramatically as the supernatural angle kicks in, and the more unfortunate members of the team fall as sacrificial red shirts to various voracious beasts.
What Lurks Below is almost two short books in one, as if someone grafted together Jodie Foster’s Contact and Vin Diesel’s Pitch Black. Readers who are looking for the rampant action of the latter might not enjoy the scholarly pace of the former.
A rapid read; ideal if you’re looking for bite-sized entertainment.
45) Four Stars ★★★★☆
By SlugPuppy3 on March 29, 2018 (Original Amazon Review)
A real page-turner.
44) A very good read from the start ★★★★☆
A very good read from the start. The book was well written with a good plot. The many twists and turns throughout the story, completely held my interest. It’s like Allan Quartermain meeting Harry Potter. Looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
43) Holes leading to hell? We are screwed! ★★★★☆
Jack Oswald is a geology professor and is asked to check out several large holes that have mysteriously appeared in Alaska that are threatening ExxonMobil’s operations. Jack gathers his wife, Angela Menendez, a climatologist, and a couple of graduates to investigate.
Then you have Aileen O’ Shannon has heard about the mysterious holes and Jack’s investigation. She talks her way into joining the group but she has more to add to this little adventure.
Of course, there is death, very bloody and gory death, and a bit of paranormal. It seems these holes are a direct gateway to hell and all kinds of demons are coming out to rule Earth.
This story is a bit slow to start with the world-building and all the science that goes into the investigation. You can really tell that the author has done a lot of research. I was worried that I was going to get lost with all the science, but this just drew me deeper into the story. Things quickly go to hell, quite literally.
This is a short read and ends on one heck of a cliffhanger. I didn’t want to leave this story but luckily I have the second book and can jump into it right away.
I received What Lurks Beneath from Silver Dagger Book Tours for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.
42) Of hellhounds and other nasties ★★★★☆
By Manie Killian on January 24, 2018 (Original Amazon Review)
I normally avoid any book that has in its description reference to angels and devils like anathema. Somehow I did pick up this book because of my interest in Alaska.
The idea of hundreds of sinkholes appearing almost overnight in the frozen tundra near a place called Deadhorse (what an evocative name!) is intriguing. As it did for geologist, Dr. Jack Oswald, when approached by a senior executive of an oil pipeline company concerned for the safety of their pipeline.
Having his wife, Dr. Angel Menendez, a climatologist along as well as a small party of people to assist in investigating these sinkholes, none of them expected death to follow and their having to fend off the very minions of hell…creatures such as hellhounds, gargoyles, imps, and even devils.
Barely escaping with their lives, the survivors escape to Pump Station 2…straight into the fire once more.
For a novella of 160 odd pages, Donald Firesmith certainly packs in a lot of action and surprises one after the other at a breakneck pace that leaves you with little chance to properly gasp at each event as they unfold.
Intrigued and fascinated, I am looking forward to the next delivery in this series. As for you, enjoy!
41) A bit sciency at first and then boom the war is engulfed ★★★★☆
By lcsdr60 on January 19, 2018 (Original Amazon Review)
The first part of this story was just about to Bore me when things suddenly changed then I could not put it down. A group of scientists from a college is paid to explore reasons for the holes that have opened up all over the northern Alaskan ocean front. The science of it bored me, then the flames and hellhounds broke free; from there it is all about survival. Great read going on to book 2.
40) It should have been longer ★★★★☆
By ehs on January 11, 2018 (Original Amazon UK Review)
Different. That’s probably the best way to describe this book. Its explanation for a current scientific puzzle is as possible as any other offered. Four stars because it should have been longer.
39) Fast and fun ★★★★☆
I have a fondness for stories in which it is revealed that the world is not as it seems. This is one of those. If you also like those kinds of stories then you will probably like this one.
There’s a touch of Mathew Reilly about it but with a Dan Brown style hero/narrator and a Micheal Crichton level of research. People who know me might think that the mention of Dan Brown is a thinly veiled insult but it really isn’t. Dan Brown is very good at some of the things he does and Donald G Firesmith manages to emulate those while avoiding the inept pop culture references, laughable research and lazy sentence structure that make me want to smack Dan Brown upside the head.
You might want to have book 2 handy because the cliffhanger ending is likely to have you hurling your e-reader across the room and cursing the author’s name. But, you know, in a good way.
38) Kept waiting for the next attack ★★★★☆
By Raymond on January 31, 2018 (Original Amazon Review)
Good adventure story, want more, going to get next book.
37) Goriliciously good… ★★★★☆
Hell Holes by Donald Firesmith was everything I had hoped for and more.
They were asked by Exxon to come up and check out the Hell Holes that had become a threat to the pipeline. Stowaway photographer, Aileen O’Shannon, is quite a handful and so much more than she appears to be.
Have you ever thought about not just climate change, but all the holes we punch into the earth? Could we be destroying the planet we live on…or is there something else happening, something so monstrously evil we cannot imagine.
What had been a secret, which I love to have revealed to me, was on the verge of becoming Armageddon. Bloody, gory, slasher-type horror. Demons rise from hell, hungry and I sure don’t want to meet them on a dark lonely highway…or anywhere else, for that matter.
Characters fall, so be careful who you become attached to. I love when an author does that, leaving me wondering who will be taken out, how they will be taken out, and who will be left standing. I also love when an author can surprise me and I did not see the direction the story would go when I began. Nice job, Donald.
I wasn’t ready for the ending!!!!! but end it did. Does not stand alone and I am left hanging…BUT This is a two-book series, and Book II is out and ready for reading.
36) Intriguing ★★★★☆
By Wendy West on September 20, 2017 (Original Goodreads Review)
The story kind of started off slow. A lot of scientific stuff I know very little about, but out of nowhere a huge plot twist. Didn’t see it coming. It will definitely keep you on your toes. Never have I read a book this interesting. A must-read.
35) 4 Stars ★★★★☆
By Amazon Customer on September 16, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
Great read, can’t wait till the next book shows how it ends!
34) A good read nonetheless ★★★★☆
By Mark Haller on August 27, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
This was really a page-turner after it got started. Kinda short, but good read nevertheless. Good characters, action, and storyline. Just ordered the second book. Looking forward to reading it. Nice job Donald.
33) It’s clear that he (like any good author should) has done his research when including a… ★★★★☆
By Jesse Oak Rise on August 10, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
Disclaimer: I was given a paperback copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. I am not being paid or coerced in any way to give this book a false-positive review. Also trying to be spoiler-free.
I am approaching this review within my lived experience as a paranormal & fantasy enthusiast and as a video game enthusiast, have been playing since as early as I can remember; my brother’s Atari 2600 was the first system I ever touched. So, enough about that, let’s move on to the book.
With Preface and Prologue included, this book runs 139 pages; I appreciate that as my ADHD brain did not bulk at the idea of having to read it, as it does with most books. When I try to read anything that my brain deems too long it tries to get me to do any and everything else but read.
In the back of the book, the author offers brief (one paragraph) biographies of the protagonists of the story, and the same is done for the antagonists which, in the world that Donald Firesmith has built, happens to be demons; the book is called Hell Holes after all.
Past the Acknowledgements and Dedication is factual information about the actual Siberian Holes that have appeared in real life, our reality. Having personally spoken with the author at an event, it’s clear that he (like any good author should) has done his research when including a real-world element into a world of fiction.
The story itself I feel is a real page-turner. I was able to read it, though a few breaks here and there, in one day. Donald does a good job of setting up his characters, the antagonists when they show up, and the overall world that he has built.
The reason I mention a bit of my own background above is because, to me, this felt like it had elements of the Doom series of video games or the television show Supernatural. I doubt this was intentional by the author; almost everything has been done in fiction, it’s how you make it fresh and unique is the key and I feel Mr. Firesmith has done that here.
My only real complaint is that there was a death of a character early on that could have been prevented if not for the purposeful carelessness of another character that should have known better.
All this said, do I recommend this book? If you like paranormal and supernatural fiction, then yes, I highly recommend it.
32) Exciting but too short ★★★★☆
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.
31) My review (3.5 Stars)
By Lu Ann Worley on May 31, 2017 (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.
30) Things that go bump in the daylight ★★★★☆
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, an 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 costs 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.
29) 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 of 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 on to 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 favorite 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 humor, 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.
28) You won’t be able to read just one ★★★★☆
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 characters. 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 subplot 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 cliffhanger. 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.
27) Minions of Hell ★★★★☆
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.
26) Great! ★★★★☆
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.
25) Hell-Holes ★★★★☆
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 cliffhanger ending.
24) What actually lurks below is a real surprise ★★★★☆
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.
23) A fast-paced and gripping sci-fi / paranormal! ★★★★☆
“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 campsite 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 is something that is far more 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 cliffhanger, 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. ****
22) No Title ★★★★☆
By Todd on March 24, 2017 (Original Goodreads Review)
I enjoyed this very much but way to short. I want more.
21) 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. ***
20) Official Review: Hell Holes: What Lurks Below ★★★★☆
[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 book’s storyline 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.
19) No Title ★★★★☆
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.
18) A Roller Coaster Ride Filled With Terrifyingly PTSD Moments! ★★★★☆
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 and engaged with each turn of the page.
17) Hell Holes ★★★★☆
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 the main characters. The girl became boring. Gave it four stars for the originality of its beginning.
16) Very Much Enjoyed ★★★★☆
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 led 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.
15) Hell Holes by Donald Firesmith ★★★★☆
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. “Sinkholes” appear near oil drilling locations. The 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.
14) Surprised Me ★★★★☆
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.
13) No Title ★★★★☆
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.
12) Geological Thrills with a Side Order of Demons ★★★★☆
Mostly, I enjoyed this. It’s very much escapist genre fiction, which could have been 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 the 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 a 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 the 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 arrived 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.
11) A Fun, Fast Read by an Author Who Really Did His Homework ★★★★☆
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”), and 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 layout 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.
10) Devilish ★★★★☆
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.
9) No Title ★★★★☆
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 halfway mark felt a little rushed but other than that it was a good read!
8) Great read ★★★★☆
By Dale M. Baranoski on August 2, 2016 (Original Barnes & Noble 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!
7) Enjoyable quick read ★★★★☆
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 halfway 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. It’s great that the author has done his research, but I did find a couple of sections that were a little bogged down by it. Not a deal-breaker, however, and it’s coming from a scientist explaining what happened so it makes sense for the character.
Once the action and the supernatural section start, the pace picks up a lot. The interactions of the 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.
6) Intriguing ★★★★☆
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 a while to get into. The premise of the book is quite interesting. It combines scientific things that are going on in the real world, with fiction and fantasy. I don’t want to give any spoilers to 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!
5) Hell Holes is a novella that presents an easy and fun read. ★★★★☆
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.
4) I truly enjoyed this book. ★★★★☆
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 “sinkholes” that 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 me from the excitement. The books I have read that have involved different levels and types of demons slowly progress from one type of demon to the next with full backgrounds of each demon. Even though this book didn’t do that it was still just as enjoyable.
The 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.
3) No Title ★★★★☆
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 sinkholes and maybe a new world down below. I have already read another book about sinkholes so I figured let me see what this author is about. This isn’t sinkholes 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 scientists goes out to determine what is causing these holes to open up near pipelines, but when they get there it is way more than they bargained 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 sometime), 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.
2) Book 1 of a Serial ★★★★☆
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 favorably 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. The 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.
1) A modern-day mash-up of real science and the fantasy world ★★★★☆
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 up-front 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 age-old fantasy, this series is definitely for you. Hell Holes is something I’ll be on the lookout for!
3 Star Reviews
26) Julie E. (Bookshelf Adventures)’s Review ★★★☆☆
By Bookshelf Adventures on 15 November 2022 (Original Goodreads Review)
Fast paced and wild ride. When thousands of mysterious holes appear in Siberia and the Arctic, a team of six set out to determine what could be causing them. What they find is beyond imagination.
The story is told from the POV of Dr Jack Oswald, a noted geologist teaching at University of Alaska Fairbanks. He and his team (made up of his wife, Dr Angela Menendez, and their grad students, Mark and Jill Starr) are hired to determine if the holes in Alaska’s North Slope are causing a danger to the nearby oil fields.
I enjoyed the small amount of science that was brought into the tale. The geology seemed very realistic and sound.
The author did a wonderful job building the world and the monsters that appear within. The novel even includes appendixes which hold more information about the things our plucky team faces.
The novel ends in a cliffhanger, bringing a sense of needing to know what’s next.
26) Tycho’s Review ★★★☆☆
Well first of all I want to thank BookSirens and Donald Firesmith for gifting me this review copy.
This book was not what I was expecting. It took a whole other turn. I was expecting aliens but that didn’t happen. Something else came out of those holes. It was a lot less scientific than I thought. Let’s keep it at that otherwise, I’ll give way to many spoilers😂.
I liked the story; it was not perfect, but it was very exciting and eventually fast-paced. The beginning of this book was very slow and very technical with geological terms. Which I found very interesting but it also took you a bit out of the story because he was explaining everything.
I didn‘t like how he talked about women sometimes. It was a bit weird. I don’t know how to explain it. But it was a bit weird. It was mostly in the beginning with phrases like I hope my wife doesn’t see this. This probably makes her jealous. I found it kinda weird to say those kinds of things.
I wasn’t really a fan of the characters as you can read😅.
There wasn’t really a lot of world-building and character development. But the book was very short so that’s okay. I gave it eventually three stars because it was so thrilling. I just couldn’t stop reading and that ending was just AAAAAH I NEED PART TWO🤯 so I definitely recommend this book because you finish it so fast. Just wow. Donald can really write some good exciting/thrilling moments; he keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Again a huge thank you to Donald Firesmith and BookSirens for giving me a review copy
25) Quick Intro to the Series ★★★☆☆
By Alan Loewen on 2 January 2021 (Original Goodreads Review)
The author clearly knows his chops, and he writes a fascinating story, and it is surprising which characters do not reach the end of the book. However, the book ends with a major cliffhanger as an enticement to purchase the rest of the series.
For readers who are fans of monster stories with secret societies and reasonable amounts of gore and violence, the book is a very good introduction to the series.
24) Steve Koyasako’s review ★★★☆☆
By Steve Koyasako on 27 December 2020 (Original Goodreads Review)
I received a free electronic copy of this novella from BookSirens in exchange for review consideration, and am leaving this review voluntarily. This short book is a quick read, pretty lively, and part of a much longer series — for this only kicks off the story of an invasion of earth by unworldly demons: you know, hellhounds, gargoyles, imps, devils, etc. All the evil things you associate with horror movies. So far, vampires haven’t shown up. And of course, they have been fought for millennia by a secret of immortal (though they can be killed) demon hunters.
That’s one reason why I can’t give this book high marks — it’s too full of tropes like the ultra-beautiful red-haired sorceress who appears to aid the protagonists who are investigating the appearance of the first mysterious “hell holes” on the North Slope of Alaska. Engaged by none other than ExxonMobil, a geologist, his wife and colleague, and two graduate students are joined by the sorceress, posing as a journalist, where they are joined by the oil executive and a wilderness guide near the site of one of the holes.
They travel to the hole, and after he and one of his students descend into the hole, all hell breaks loose, literally. The grad student is the first to die a gruesome death, burned to a crisp when the oil executive negligently throws a lit cigarette butt into the pit filled at the bottom with explosive gasses. When hellhounds start coming out of the pit in packs, the sorceress, Aileen O’Shannon (probably her nom de’ guerre), reveals herself by throwing a protective shield around the group. She informs the group that this is the start of a wholesale invasion of earth by demons coming from other worlds through wormholes underground.
I would have liked the characterizations to be more well-rounded. As it was, Aileen didn’t seem to me at all like what a 1,700-year old demon hunter would be like. But then, what do I know? The book is told through the POV of Jack Oswald, and I barely understood him as well, nor his wife Angie. (view spoiler) I think the cliches and images from fantasy were a little old, like the power jewel that Aileen uses to do magic; and her Latin incantations. They reminded me of Hogwarts. But What Lurks Below is campy fun if you ride along with it and let yourself get carried along with the action, which there is a lot of.
23) Wild imagination ★★★☆☆
This is like waking up in a nightmare. The story is very well told and most of the characters fit just fine. But I couldn’t get my brain to go with it. I believe the author’s imagination ran wild in a good way.
22) From sci-fi to horror/supernatural very quickly! ★★★☆☆
At first, I thought “Hell Holes” was going to be a science fiction novella given the cast of main characters are all scientists or researchers in the natural sciences. And, admittedly, the first half of the book feels like true science fiction as the characters explain the science and their reasoning for what the mysterious holes popping up all over Alaska could be or what may be causing them. Then it takes a pretty hard left into pure horror/paranormal action. “Hell Holes” starts off as a quest for answers about these holes and what can be done to keep them from interrupting a lucrative Alaskan oil line, then ends on a high-speed chase across the tundra as the scientists are hunted down by all manner of hell-spawn and demons. Was I disappointed by this turn? Not really. But I was taken by surprise.
Given that the first half of the book was rather slow with a lot of telling the reader how alluring the photojournalist is and how odd the holes are on a scientific level, the action that comes later is a welcome turn of events. You get a lot of tension, a lot of detailed descriptions of how horrific and gross the demons are, and a lot of unapologetic violence as the original cast of characters gets whittled down in rather horrific ways. It’s such a stark contrast from where the book started that, while I enjoyed the suddenly fast-paced nature the story took, it could have used a little ramp-up. The characters go from hardcore scientists to believers of the supernatural really fast because, well, they have to, and not because of the terrifying creatures hunting them, but because this is a really short novella. This reads like a quick serial more than anything else which is fine because it makes it an easy page-turner and something you can knock out pretty easily in a weekend, but it didn’t necessarily HAVE to be this short, either. I’d have loved for the scientists to be a bit more skeptical of the sudden sorceress in their midst and the secret organization that’s been aware/prepping for this invasion for some time. It just needed a slight ramp up so we didn’t go from 0 to 100 in just a few pages.
This is going to be a pretty short review because I don’t want to spoil who survives, or who plays what role in the things that lead the scientists to where the book ends. It does end on a massive cliff-hanger, one that I wasn’t a huge fan of because it was so abrupt and ended before I felt like enough got accomplished or answered. The remaining characters are so far from safety by the time the end comes that I found myself saying: “What? That’s it? We’re ending it there?!” Which definitely makes me 1. Want to read the next book and 2. A tad annoyed that I feel like I HAVE to read it in order to get the full story. The first book in the “Hell Holes” series is more of a teaser book, one to whet your appetite, to explain the situation, and prep you for the ride to come more than anything else, I feel. Which is ok, it means the next book will probably be 100% action and danger rather than the slow, rather info-dumpy sections of science we got in the first installment. Still, I think I would have liked a bit more so this felt like a complete first story, even though it is a novella, which is why I am giving it 3 stars. However, if you like some hard science and then a lot of supernatural horror in a quick, serial format, I say give this book a read! I’m definitely going to be reading the second book very soon as well. And thanks to the author for providing me with a copy for an honest review.
21) Wierd ★★★☆☆
Although some readers might like the phantasmagoria that is this book, Many devilish beasts not just one..got witches, hell hounds, gargoyles, imps, and others. Just not my forte in reading. Adventures seem to await a reader but not this one.
20) Marked RPG because it would make a fine setting for one ★★★☆☆
By Lisa on August 23, 2018 (Original Goodreads Review)
This is a story of the first days of the war to end all wars, the battle between our world and dimensional travelers from some hell-like pan-dimensional civilization (or something).
This is a decent urban fantasy action/adventure novel without too much plot to get in the way of the story. There are some weird moments early on, but pretty much everything falls into place (with one possible piece of author research failure).
Big on action, blood, and gore, but written well enough to carry the reader along. Definitely not written as a stand-alone novel, because there is no pretense at having finished any part of the story.
19) Interesting ★★★☆☆
My first view of Ragnarok coming. I never thought I’d see it. This author paints an interesting scene of hell coming. Definitely not for the faint at heart, I think.
18) Good Foundation for Fantasy ★★★☆☆
The concept of this story was good, and the story was enjoyable. To me, it’s a cross between sci-fi slash fantasy and horror. It had a long build-up but it was well written. It felt like it had a lot of different things that were going on, maybe a little too much. Firesmith writes a good story, and there were probably several going on within this one. It was a good read, very thrilling at times.
17) Magical Gears of War in the Arctic ★★★☆☆
Properly written but short blend of pop science and fantasy. An interesting concept: a group of scientists is called to the arctic to study a group of suddenly-emerging sinkholes, only to find them quickly drawn into an inter-dimensional battle for survival.
Things roll out like any good thriller or disaster blockbuster, although the buildup, in the beginning, was a little drawn out. There’s as much action as you’d expect along with a few side plots to add color. On the downside, the dialog does feel a bit overworked. i.e., immediately after a firefight, the MC gets a 70-word lecture on how he shot the door by accident. This kind of detail does help with developing the world but also drags down the pace of the story.
16) No title ★★★☆☆
By Roger on February 14, 2018 (Original Goodreads Review)
First…This is Not A Stand-Alone…just when it really gets exciting, it just says End of Book 1…I know it’s a teaser but I would have never started this book if I had known…it really perturbs me to no end that an Author cannot come to some logical conclusion with teasers to the next book…The book is a very interesting ride with lots of action and a few surprises along the way…but that being said as much as I was starting to enjoy the ride…Bam…The End…well all I can say is that’s The End for me with this Author…Goodbye and thanks for wasting my time..Not..
15) Good start to a tale. ★★★☆☆
By painless on February 3, 2018 (Original Amazon UK Review)
Unusual short book. Could mean story will be in a lot of episodes. Hope the next books are full length.
14) Good Story (3.5 Stars)
There are some things that science still can’t explain.
One of my favorite parts of this story was how intelligently the characters behaved in a crisis. Every single one of them kept their cool and made rational decisions regardless of how surprised and horrified they were by what was going on around them. They worked together as a team, too, to figure out what to do next. These aren’t things that happen all that regularly in this genre, so it makes me pretty happy when I do see them.
The pacing was the only thing holding this book back from a much higher rating. Roughly the first 50 pages were spent introducing everyone and setting up the scene. It took even longer for the characters to finally realize that something was seriously wrong on their expedition. As beautiful as the writing itself was, I found myself growing restless as I waited for the horror, paranormal, and science fiction elements of the plot to reveal themselves.
Mr. Firesmith has an eye for detail. His descriptions of the tundra were deliciously spooky even before the characters or the audience had any idea what was happening in that remote corner of the world. I also liked seeing how much attention he paid to what his characters looked like and how their personalities would affect how they reacted to something frightening happening. That made it easy for me to grow attached to them before the plot picked up speed.
Hell Holes: What Lurks Below should be read by anyone who enjoys slow-burning horror.
13) Slow start, good during the middle but an abrupt finish (3.5 Stars)
A good book. I did find it a bit slow at times, especially at the beginning. The action does not start really till past halfway through the book. This is a more whet 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 fieldwork to keep himself active. He is married to a 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 lifelong scientists, 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 than touch on how their core beliefs 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 than 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.
12) It was fast-paced and there was some good action. However… ★★★☆☆
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”.
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.
11) Not my cup of tea ★★★☆☆
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.
10) Not my cup of tea ★★★☆☆
By Mun on May 4, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
The book begins with 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.
9) Pretty well written ★★★☆☆
By Dondee on April 20, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
Pager turner, pretty well written. I will purchase the next installment to the series.
8) Goodreads review ★★★☆☆
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 of 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 its 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 that 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. I 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
7) It’s a story about a group of geologists… ★★★☆☆
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 emergence of the diverse demonic creatures, the story gets more and more intense 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.
6) Goodreads review ★★★☆☆
By Stephanie on March 11, 2017 (Original Goodreads Review and Original LibraryThing 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 of the attacks. The first part of the story is a bit of an info dump as Jack explains what he does and 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.
5) Holes, holes everywhere!! ★★★☆☆
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.
4) Science, Horror, Fantasy, Paranormal, and Plenty of Action. ★★★☆☆
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.
3) No Title. ★★★☆☆
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 it 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 of reasons. First, the rapid-fire way in which the characters died had no emotional impact on 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.]
2) Interesting story, but didn’t care much for the somewhat cliffie ending. ★★★☆☆
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 of 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 cliffhanger 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 contain 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.
1) Probably more a male-oriented story but I enjoyed it none the less. ★★★☆☆
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, it’s 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 travels to one of the 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 pipelines 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 all 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 storyline. But by the time I finished the story, I was left feeling that this book really should have been fused into the next book, it’s just a long played-out scenario of 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 to 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 it’s more action and escape than really getting deep into the world in which the story is set.
2 Star Reviews
6) Kims’s review ★★☆☆☆
By Kim on 28 February 2021 (Original Goodreads Review)
*** I received this free ARC from Book Sirens and am leaving a voluntary review**
Normally, science fiction/fantasy is my jam. It’s my go-to reading pleasure. So, don’t think my “meh” review is against the genre. This book started great…all the science, research, etc. You could tell the author did his homework. And then, BAM! out of nowhere, we add the “fiction” part. And this part, was NOT so well done. It came literally, out of nowhere with no backstory, not enough information, not enough setup, etc. It was almost a throwaway. And since the book is so short, there wasn’t any time to solve this problem. I do believe he could have written a full-length book and solved all the problems.
5) Amy Savvides’s review ★★☆☆☆
By Amy Savvides on November 23, 2018 (Original Goodreads Review)
So. What can I say about this.
I liked the initial idea. What was considered to be a possible eco-disaster turns out to be Hell, and Demons.
What I really, really cannot get over in this book (and I mean that literally, it spoilt the whole thing for me) is the treatment of the women in this book. Seemingly, if you are not a married academic – thereby proving both your loyalty, modesty, and your intelligence – then it is fine to be judged on your looks, and for the writer to describe you in terms of how much of a beautiful, wicked temptress you are. That is, of course, until you have proven yourself by saving everyone’s life.
This left such a sour taste in my mouth that I don’t wish to read more in the series. I can’t imagine how the author might have described this woman if she’d had the audacity to be unattractive! At least then he’d have a reason to NOT look down her top.
2 stars from me. This could be improved by a significant rewrite of the earlier chapters, because like I say, I liked the premise.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. Thanks to Book Sirens for the opportunity.
4) Cliffhanger ★★☆☆☆
By Tammy Damore on November 5, 2018 (Original Goodreads Review)
The book itself is quite entertaining but I don’t like the cliffhanger angle. To me, that just screams lack of confidence. Had this book simply been one of a series I would have happily purchased the next, but nope, not falling for it.
3) It was OK ★★☆☆☆
By David B. Nemeth on April 30, 2018 (Original Amazon Review)
I thought this would be more of a scientific thriller. I did not see that it was part 1 of a series, which I avoid. I like horror, and this story soon became horror…but not the kind I like. It became ridiculous with demons. Believe this fantasy or else. I will not pursue the sequels.
2) Demons from Hell ★★☆☆☆
By Larry Voyer on August 23, 2017 (Original Amazon Review)
An OK book. But I lost interest when demons from hell started pouring out of the holes. At that point, all the good science was outweighed by the absurdity of witchcraft/religious nonsense.
1) Reads like the first effort of a college kid ★★☆☆☆
By CK on March 1, 2017 (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
3) Stupid liberal environmentalist wacko anti-christian nonsense ★☆☆☆☆
By Mitchell K. Smith on May 16, 2018 (Original Amazon Review)
Stupid liberal environmentalist wacko anti-christian nonsense. The book started out okay and I liked the idea. But as the story progressed, the liberal garbage started coming out. Scientists are atheists. Global warming is destroying the planet. Etc. etc. And then the magic and demons. Ugh!
2) No Title ★☆☆☆☆
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.
1) Well, that was quick . . . political position staked out and shouted from the rooftops within 2 pages. What a turn-off! ★☆☆☆☆
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.]