Hellifax (Mountain Man #3) by Keith C. Blackmore - Book Review

Write on: Mon, 26 Oct 2020 by  in Max's Reviews Read 9315

I’m always amazed when an author is able to successfully shift between genres, writing stories that may appeal to different readers, but doing so with ease. Keith C. Blackmore is one such author, writing in both the fantasy and horror genres. I discovered Blackmore’s works back in 2013 when I read the first installment of his ongoing zombie series, Mountain Man. I was enraptured by the crude, rum drinking hermit Gus and his eventual companion Scott as they did their absolute best to survive the apocalypse from zombies and people alike. For whatever reason, I took some time off from reading Blackmore’s books, but have recently been bingeing his stories, beginning with book three, Hellifax. As the name suggests, it’s a terrifying experience. 

*Minor spoilers for book two ahead:

Scott leaves the “comfort” of the mountain outside of Annapolis and his only living friend, Gus, in hopes of tracking down the serial killer, Tenner, who’d once slaughtered his friends and left him for dead. A fool’s errand, perhaps, considering Tenner could be anywhere, but Scott is determined to find his would-be killer and make him pay. 

Tenner makes his way to Hallifax in search of his next victim, or if he’s lucky, victims.

Fist and his cohort of ruthless northmen travel the ruins of Nova Scotia, raping, murdering, and pillaging what’s left of civilization.

As their stories begin to merge, all hell will break loose in Hallifax. 

Each book in the Mountain Man series, thus far, explores some different aspect of what it might be like to live and survive a zombie apocalypse. In Hellifax, Blackmore delves into the idea that the living – not the undead – are the real threat. While zombies are certainly not to be taken lightly (and don’t get me started on the swarms of creepy rats), regular men and women are the ones to be feared. Whether their new circumstances are to blame for their twisted behavior – bringing about a dormant desire to hurt others – or they’re giving into a sickness that they’ve purposely suppressed until now, the fact is that some people would simply relish living in a lawless, unjust world. This concept creates incredible tension, chapter by chapter. I found myself at numerous times calling out “Stop! No, just turn away. No, no, no,” at any and all unsuspecting, hopeful citizens of Blackmore’s dastardly apocalypse.

Not only is Blackmore a master of suspense, but his writing really shines when it comes to character development. Scott’s naively brave journey is bolstered by his desire for revenge. As the story moves forward, so too does our understanding of Scott’s mindset; what we discovered regarding Scott in book two was only surface level. There’s an entire past to Scott that Blackmore explores in Hellifax, and that past adds more fuel for the anger that’s burning bright inside of him. Scott, however, isn’t the only well-developed character in this story, though. We get in the very mind of the mad man that is Tenner (and boy is he messed up!), as well as come to learn quite a bit about Scott’s new companions. 

I’ve heard a lot of people say that they’re tired of zombie stories, but let me tell you: Keith C. Blackmore’s Mountain Man books are the pinnacle of the ever-growing genre, and Hellifax is a wonderfully intense addition. A character-driven story about man’s survival that sheds light into the darkest depths of human nature, the misery and suspense at the heart of Hellifax are rivaled only by the hopefulness of its relatable and fallible heroes.

Last modified on Monday, 26 October 2020 15:09

Max’s passion for fantastic stories began with weekly trips to the comic book store as a child. Now an English teacher at a boarding school, he is always reading. Max has written for sites like Geeks of Doom and SF Signal, where he created the Indie Author Spotlight. Max lives in Connecticut with his wife – who graciously embraces his need to display action figures all over the house – and daughter, who is inheriting her parents’ affinity for books.