Official Review: Hell Holes: What Lurks Below

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Official Review: Hell Holes: What Lurks Below

Post by Scerakor » 13 Mar 2017, 18:15

[Following is an official review of "Hell Holes: What Lurks Below" by Donald Firesmith.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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What Lurks Below by Donald G. Firesmith is a science fiction novel, the first in the Hell Holes series, which investigates the mysterious holes that have appeared in the Arctic Circle. First in Siberia, then eventually in Alaska, holes in the frozen tundra have appeared without explanation. Alaskan scientists have been brought in by the Oil Companies to ensure the safety of the enterprise, but no one is prepared for the events that follow their initial investigation. This work starts off in an extremely scientific manner, using both logic and science to address the problems at hand. As the situation gets both dire and complicated, the true nature of the situation reveals itself. Some of the members of the research party are more than they present themselves to be and even others may not last the duration of the study.

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

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

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

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

Hell Holes: What Lurks Below
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Post by kandscreeley » 16 Mar 2017, 08:03

So these holes are actually something that has happened? Interesting. Sounds like something I would enjoy. Thanks for the review.
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Post by Scerakor » 16 Mar 2017, 08:19

kandscreeley wrote:So these holes are actually something that has happened? Interesting. Sounds like something I would enjoy. Thanks for the review.
Yes and no. This book is purely one of science-fiction/fantasy and although I am trying to avoid spoilers, things swing heavily in that direction about half-way through the novel. The science and geology expressed during the beginning half of the book is definitely merited, and apparently the Author based the premise of his book on actual occurrences of mysterious holes in Siberia:
The idea for this book series came to me when I first heard of the discovery of several large mysterious holes in the permafrost of the Yamal Peninsula in Northern Siberia in mid-July of 2014. By the summer of 2015, some 20 to 30 such holes had been spotted. ... rks-below/

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Post by Lincoln » 16 Mar 2017, 10:42

I like the idea of it actually happening. Certainly puts a spin on what is to be expected, and the book sounds interesting.
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Post by AliceofX » 18 Mar 2017, 01:11

Personally, I can't stand cliffhanger endings. Even if it's part of a series, a book should be a complete work standing on it's own rather than depending on the next one to complete the story. Without a good ending it's like being promised dessert after dinner and only getting it the next day.

Nice review, by the way.

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Post by Vickie Noel » 14 Sep 2017, 10:01

Not a strong sci-fi lover but I sure am curious about the fact that those holes actually existed and how the phenomenon was handled. It's just too bad that the story had to end in a cliffhanger, I'm never sympathetic to them even if it's part of a series. I'm glad you found the story line amusing to an extent, looking forward to discovering that aspect of the book. Great review!
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Post by Yolimari » 14 Sep 2017, 10:03

Mysterious holes appearing in the Artic? That is quite an interesting scientific plot. What a pity the book is short in length.

Thanks for the review!
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Post by ellieonline03 » 14 Sep 2017, 11:26

Huge holes that mysteriously appear overnight in the Arctic Circle would be really alarming. Sci-fi novels like this are fun to read because although they are fictitious in nature, the reader gets to be informed on what to do IF it really happened in real life. Thank you for your review!
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Post by rusyalana » 14 Sep 2017, 11:27

Mysterious holes that have appeared without explanation ..... I love such science fiction stories where the events are far beyond our understanding so that it will keep me tense and wanting to read the book up to the end. Thanks for the review.

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Post by gali » 14 Sep 2017, 11:28

Mysterious holes popping up and all hell break loose afterward? Sounds intriguing! Too bad about the abrupt switch to religious work. I love the genre, so will check it out nonetheless. Thank you for the review!
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Post by hsimone » 14 Sep 2017, 12:56

Mysterious huge holes appear in the Arctic Circle? The fact that some of the research members are more than what they seem adds a bit of mystery to this book. It's great when an author clearly show that he/she has done research in their writing. Too bad about the length of the book and the disappointing conclusion. However, I'm glad that you still enjoyed the book!
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Post by Strangerthanfiction » 14 Sep 2017, 13:35

Great review. I like that the author has done his research on this, it usually brings an authentic element to the read. I like some science-fiction/fantasy and mysterious holes appearing is quite intriguing. I don't really like when a story doesn't come to a logical conclusion but if the following books don't take a very long time to come out I will follow such a series. Thanks so much for sharing.
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Post by tamdlyte » 14 Sep 2017, 14:04

a fan of the apocalyptic/science-fiction/fantasy genre
and AM
willing to read any and all of the newest stories within this genre.
LOL Apocalypse stories always make me very grateful for my ho-hum life! :)

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Post by klbradley » 14 Sep 2017, 14:38

Seems that I have always enjoyed the "apocalyptic" books, but with the added mystery of this one, it sounds like a great read! Thank you for sharing with us!
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Post by Gbemisola » 14 Sep 2017, 14:51

A science fiction interwoven with some religious bits sounds interesting to me. When I read a fiction book, I don't have to agree with the author to enjoy the book. I simply appreciate the author creativity. Thanks for the heads up, I enjoyed reading your review!

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