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Author: Tom Leveen
Release date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulise
Pages: 304
Formats: Hardcover, eBook


Five years ago, Abby Booth’s mom, co-host of a ghost hunting reality show, went missing while filming in a ‘haunted’ cave in Arizona.

Since then, Abby’s life has all but fallen to pieces, most notably because of her dad’s deep depression and how they’ve drifted further and further apart.

But now, at seventeen, Abby has decided that things will change. She plans to go to the same cave where her mom and the crew went missing and to find out, once and for all, what happened there.

With the help of the co-host’s son Charlie and two of his friends, Abby sets off on a quest for answers…but what the group ends up finding, what they stumble across in that dark, primordial cave in Arizona, is nothing they could have ever imagined.

Abby was investigating a possible haunting… she never expected that there could be something worse.


NOTE: This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book. A Kindle eCopy has been pre-ordered for my collection.

The Review

HELLWORLD is riveting, action-packed and unexpected. It teases answers to a mystery as the chapters alternate between the present and the past. It builds suspense as readers learn more about what Abby, Charlie, Selby, and Alex uncovered in the cave in their search for Abby’s mom.

From the very first lines the story grabs, talking of darkness and danger and fear, and something that went very, very wrong. It goes beyond the typical dark-things-that-lurk-in-dark-caves brand of scary story. It tells a tale that sparks the imagination, offers food for thought, and will take spelunking off many a bucket list.

Abby could never quite accept the fact that her mom was dead. Without any inkling about what happened or any conclusive proof that her mother was really gone, she and her dad couldn’t move on. Not when there was even the smallest thread of hope that her mom would come back.

So when she stumbled upon some new information that might lead to answers, she decided it was time to conduct her own investigation. Reaching out to Charlie, whose dad was also one of the missing, wasn’t easy. But she didn’t want to explore a potentially dangerous cave alone, and she thought he might want answers, too.

She hoped their search would solve the mystery once and for all. She hoped she would be able to find closure. But she didn’t really expect to find anything. Especially not what they found. She couldn’t have imagined what the aftermath of her quest for answers would be. Certainly not the magnitude of the fallout. And she never dreamed the day would come that she wished she’d never gone looking for her mother in the first place.

Tom Leveen has melded horror with action and mystery, adding in myth and science and religion, to create a gripping, nailbiting, chilling, and thought-provoking story. He takes readers and characters into the dark, lets them imagine the stuff of nightmares, and brings them back into the light only to discover that what they witnessed in the dark is real, it’s worse than they imagined, and that their nightmares are far from over.

HELLWORLD is the perfect title for this surprising and thrilling and amazingly good read. It promises to make you think about what might have been, what could be possible, and about just how much we don’t know. It’s an exciting story. It’s an intelligent story. It’s a scary story and one hell of a (pardon the pun) page-turner.

The Rating

Like In-N-Out Burger‘s infamous secret menu this one deserves my off-the-menu 6 star rating.

About Tom Leveen

Tom’s novels include PARTY, MANICPIXIEDREAMGIRL, SICK, RANDOM, and SHACKLED. He is also in the collection VIOLENT ENDS. His novel ZERO was a YALSA Best Book of 2013. His eighth book. HELLWORLD, will be available Fall 2017.

Previously, Tom has been the artistic director of two theatre companies, and enjoys teaching and speaking to students and adults whenever and wherever possible.


7 Responses to “Review: HELLWORLD”

  1. I haven’t even seen this one around Rachel. It sounds really good, I tend to love thrillers/mysteries.

    Would you consider this horror though? I’m a wimp for horror 😉

    • Fiktshun009 says:

      There are definitely aspects of horror in it, but not of a slasher/gore variety. Some may call it more horror/sci-fi or a story with a sort of post-apocalyptic bent. But unless you allow your imagination to really run wild I think you can read it late at night and not be worried about those bumps in the night. 🙂 Then again I’m a huge horror fan so maybe I’m not the best person to judge what is/isn’t scary. Though I am a HUGE fan of the films The Cave and The Descent so am equally fascinated and terrified by what might lurk in the deep, dark depths of caves.

  2. Baahh, I hadn’t heard of this book before! I haven’t read a ton of action/suspense novels in YA, which I’ve bee trying to fix. I like suspense, mystery, thriller – but I definitely don’t read enough of them. I’m intrigued because you say this is an intelligent story. 😀 I’m glad you enjoyed it, Rachel! Wonderful review!

    Have a great week. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • Fiktshun009 says:

      I’ve always loved thrillers/action-thrillers and it definitely made me ponder the science of it all, and the religion. I hope you add more thrillers to your list – there are some really great ones out there already – and coming out. Really loved Rachel Vincent’s 100 Hours and am reading Nemesis now which rocks so far. And thanks Alyssa, you have a great week, too!

  3. Nice! This one caught my eye awhile back! Sounded spooky and creepy and just my kind of read! Glad to hear it was pretty chilling! Can’t wait to give it a read! Nice review!

    • Fiktshun009 says:

      The teasing back and forth between present and past kept me hooked. And there was so much more but it is ALL spoiler-y, which is why reviewing these types of books is so hard. IMO the best part of thrillers is not knowing what happens next. I hope you get a chance to read it, and that you love it!

  4. Carina Olsen says:

    Ohhh 😀 Not heard of this one before now. But I am so curious. So glad you loved it tons Rachel 😀 Stunning review. <3 That cover is awesome. Scary books are the best. Curious now 🙂

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