Publication date: October 21st, 2021 Goodreads H ow do you survive hearing your family being brutally murdered over the phone? For Father Ra...

Review || Faithless by Hunter Shea

Publication date: October 21st, 2021

How do you survive hearing your family being brutally murdered over the phone? For Father Raul Figeuroa, all faith and hope are lost. Turning away from the priesthood behind, he retreats to his aunt's empty farmhouse in upstate New York, hoping to drink himself to oblivion. But he's not alone in the house. Something is trying to reach out to him. Or is he losing his grip on reality? When his childhood friend Felix comes to visit, things take a darker turn. The deeper they dig into the mystery, the closer they get to hell literally breaking loose.

Shea has a knack for producing raw, emotionally driven horror with imperfect, broken characters. His novel Creature broke my heart with its flawed characters and poignant storytelling and Faithless is no different. 

Faithless starts with anxiety-fueled adrenaline as Father Raul Figeuroa drives home one rainy night only to hear his family cry out as they are attacked and killed. He makes it home minutes too late. The police have no leads and the loss sends Raul reeling. He retreats to his late aunt's farm where he spent time growing up, truly hoping to drink himself stupid. And he does. 

After the first few pages, Faithless loses its momentum but I wouldn't expect any novel to hold such a frenetic pace. It's a slow burn as we cycle through the anguish and heartbreak that Raul experiences, even as he tries to drown his sorrows. Shea has created this character that your heart can't help but bleed for as he mourns his family. The loss is so profound that his faith, which has carried him for so long, suddenly can't be maintained. It's a thought that any person grieving might think: Why does God let these things happen? Only Raul's loss has completely ripped away his faith and in turn, his sense of self. It's heartbreaking and raw and Shea leaves us drifting away completely with Raul, unsure of his faith and his sanity. 

Strange things start happening in the house. He hears the voice of his wife coming through the vents and the laughter and footsteps of his children overhead. Is it just the grief or is he truly haunted by the restless spirits of his family? The appearance of his old friend Felix can't even shock Raul out of his stupor, though Felix offers what the police can't—a possible unmasking and potential retribution. Felix at least breaths some life into the story during a long period of drinking, pill-popping, and wallowing. He leaves Raul to go find answers and it's a much-needed break from the stagnation at the farm. 

Then we truly go down the rabbit hole. This ending is so far-fetched I can't even. It's gory and action-packed but it's out there. Ghosts, cults, attack cats. The eschewing of predestination being more powerful than the battle of good vs. evil. I don't know where I expected Faithless to go, but this was not it. I loved the setup but not the follow-through. Oh, and Bruiser. Always have to love the cat.