Review done for Reading Café …..
Lindsay Sterling’s niece has gone missing in the New York underground and the cops do nothing except pass along a name. Jack Cole. Twenty years ago they were good buddies but horrors have changed them both. Lindsay lost her entire family except for her niece in a car accident, and Jack was held captive in New York’s underbelly for nearly two years by demented sub-humans. It was a soul-sucking experience that’s left him a shell of a man. He refuses to descend into that hell again, especially for a girl who’s probably dead anyway. But when Lindsay is nearly killed there after going it alone, Jack feels compelled to save her skin. Jack navigates Lindsay through a strange territory, populated with the eccentric, the insane and the desperate. Each encounter takes them closer to Lindsay’s niece but also closer into the clutches of the mad creatures that will enslave them.
Undertow by S.M. Stelmack was an excellent adventure. I give it a 4/5 rating This book is full of danger, intrigue and friendships. Imagine a city under a city, levels of this city divided, until we get to the lowest of the low. Each level has their hierarchy, rules and laws. At the top we have running water and electricity. Each level goes deeper and deeper, until we hit total darkness. And the monsters.
Lindsay once had a friend called Jack, they were inseparable. Jack was the ultimate adventurer, he would travel underground searching for treasures and stories to tell his avid follower. An incident in their past puts a strain on their friendship. Then Jack and his father have to move away, this is the end of the dynamic duo. But they keep in touch, postcards, letters and birthday phone calls. Then a blow rocks Lindsay’s world, and she cuts Jack out if her life forever…..
We jump ahead eighteen years. Lindsay’s worse nightmare comes true, she loses her remaining family member underground. The police can’t help, due to lack of funds and manpower. She is given a name and number to contact, to her shock, it’s Jack’s name looking back at her.
Tracking him down, she arrives at a rundown building, where she meets a mountain called Reggie. Getting past Reggie to see Jack is a challenge in it’s self.
Their meeting doesn’t go as planned. He is cold, distant and totally disinterested in her plight. Undeterred, Lindsay plans to go underground and look for her niece. Packing a rucksack full of things she will need, Lindsay ventures to Grand Central Station, in search of a guide, to take her underground. She meets a bunch of youths who promise to take her to the people she needs to see. Only trouble in the shape of a knife is what she gets. Reggie rescues her, and takes her back to Jack. Jack relents and tells her that he will take her underground, and to be ready the next morning.
Along the journey, we meet characters, who know of Jack the legend. (it seems Jack has his own underground story to tell, which we get to see in flash backs)
Jack has loved Lindsay since childhood, but Jack is broken. The moles (who are at the bottom of the underground social network, but are feared by everyone) broke him, tried to remould him into someone else. Jack’s flashbacks are very important to the story, we get to see them try to break him, and all the horrors he was forced to endure.
The moles want their property back (Jack being theirs), and will do anything to keep him from returning to the surface. Jack and Lindsay reconnect and their love for one another begins to grow, from the child worship to adult love. The story is fast paced and nail biting, right up to the ending.
What I liked about this book was the adventure, I could see this as a movie, the monsters scary enough for any horror fan. It flowed really well. And it felt like real time, as there was the sleep, eating, fighting and escape. Do they rescue her niece ? Do they find happiness, or will reality set in ? Well I’m afraid you will have to read this amazing book yourself.
My only niggle, the end felt a little rushed, I thought there would be a meeting, or a showdown.
I will be putting it on my kindle list. I can’t recommend it enough. It really was a ride a minute.