Hardcover Limited Edition, $50.00
Reviewed by Nickolas Cook
At the tail end of the horror boom of the 80s and early 90s, Robert Dunbar presented to the genre a book of moody, bleak terror: The Pines. Over the years, this novel has rightfully gained a rabid cult following. Fans of the novel (myself included) speculated why no sequel. This was a man who could, after all, craft engaging and atmospheric fiction, a true master of the art of horror.
Well, we can thank Robert Dunbar and Delirium Books for finally giving the world The Shore, a sequel of sorts, involving characters from The Pines. Dunbar, internationally renowned for his expertise on the Jersey Devil legend, has appeared on multiple documentaries, and written several academic articles in reference to the legend and the environment in which it has survived since the 17th century. This time Dunbar returns to the legend from a different angle, setting the story on the shore of Edgeharbor, a tourist town in its last death throes, where shadows and cold hold wet sway.
In The Pines, Dunbar created a palpable atmosphere of dark humidity, replete with sodden rot and swampy stench – one of the elements that most fans agree made the book a modern classic of the genre. This time around he has created a chilly, blue world of cold, salty wind and lashing icy rain, which may have you wrapping up in a blanket by book’s end. Those rainy scenes will haunt you, especially the forlorn ending. The plot is deliberate and tight, the characters emotional and full, and Dunbar approaches even the most dastardly with a rare empathy and compassion. There are several surprises along the way, where evil and good may not be what you think they are; the twists are entertaining and emotional.
In short, The Shore is every bit as classic as The Pines, and perhaps even more so, as it helps to build Dunbar’s mythos, and accentuates how much more masterly he’s become at his craft in the intervening years. As with his first novel, it would be easy to write a ten-page essay of all the little details that make his work stand out and why these works transcend genre labels and shelves, but I’ll let you, dear reader, discover these things for yourself.
And let me take a moment to mention Mike Bohatch’s cover art, which masterfully bolsters the book’s theme of cold and wet and shadows.
Delirium, keep up the good work in bringing these modern classics to genre in need of true craftsmanship.