Reviewed by Nikyta
Author: S.M. Stelmack
Series: The UnderCity Chronicles #1
Heroes: Lindsay Sterling/Jack Cole
Genre: M/F Urban Fantasy
Length: 248 Pages
Release Date: April 29, 2013
Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: 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.
Wow, I honestly have no idea what I should say about this book. To be honest, this was nothing like what I was expecting. I had thought (for some weird reason) that I was about to read a YA post-apocalyptic story in a society that is so warped there is nothing but destruction everywhere. To some degree, that is true because the tunnels are so vicious that it’s safe to assume if you go down far enough in them, you won’t be coming out. But as for the rest? YA? Post-apocalyptic? Definitely not.
This is more of an urban fantasy story where the tunnels under New York City are a whole other world. Not only are there people down there that have no other place to live but there’s also dangerous criminals and, worst of all, inhuman creatures that can rip you to shreds in seconds. When Lindsay’s niece, Seline, disappears in the tunnels, Lindsay will do anything she must to get her back including getting help from a long-lost friend who’s more bitter and broken than he was over a decade ago. Jack Cole spent two years underground and barely made it out alive. Holding onto life by a thread, he refuses to go back there… that is until Lindsay shows up and Jack’s long buried feelings for her mixed with Lindsay’s determination finally persuades him. Unfortunately, getting Seline back is not easy and might just cause them to go up against the inhuman monsters, the Moles. Can they get Seline back before it’s too late? Or will all their efforts to reclaim Seline prove pointless?
Oh my. What did I just read?! This book was so well developed I was immediately drawn into its depths. The sheer intensity at some moments just about killed me. I loved reading about Lindsay discovering the tunnels but also experiencing how much the tunnels pained Jack. Lindsay’s panic and desperation to get Seline back mixed with Jack’s raw pain and insanity gave the story a lot of emotional background. All the characters, not just Lindsay and Jack, were well developed (Reggie was totally a fav!) to the point that it was easy to connect with them. The situations they go through to get Seline back are sometimes easy but other times filled me with so much dread that I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happened next.
There’s a ton of suspense and action in this one so it moved the story along well. Not to mention there’s the underlying romance throughout the book that would appeal to those who want romance in their urban fantasy. I just loved, loved, loved how broken Jack was. His need for Lindsay and his hesitance to burden her with his insanity. It was hard to experience at times because Jack is so emotionally damaged that he’s not even sure what’s real and what’s not and sharing that with Lindsay almost kills him. Lindsay is like this lifeline for him. A beacon of hope that he can move past the shattered remains of his past and mind and finally live again. Lindsay gives him that opportunity and I loved seeing that play out. When the two get together, they were so freaking hot, it’s insane.
My only problem with this one is that there was a lot of head-hopping throughout the novel. I loved the writing because it was very smooth, captivating and there was a lot of suspenseful moments to it. Not to mention HOT ones between Lindsay and Jack. However, that didn’t stop me from noticing that throughout the passages, I’d be reading emotions or feelings from someone other than who the POV was from. It happened often enough that it became more and more noticeable as the story progressed. Besides that, I really want to know how Reggie and Tocat are doing! It was never mentioned.
All in all, this was still a phenomenally fascinating tale of reclaiming what’s yours and finding the courage to face one’s fears. The sheer complexity of the tunnels and all that lived down there was interesting to read about and I loved getting to explore that. It made me wonder if tunnels like that really exist and if creatures as horrific as the Moles are in them. Of course, I never want to find out! But these authors weaved an intriguing story that made it easy to read and fast-paced while successfully including a lovely romance between Jack and Lindsay.
I adored the story and I really cannot wait to read the sequel. I hope it has a few scenes with Jack and Lindsay again because I’d love to see more of them. As it is, if you like your urban fantasy with some romance and a heavy dose of a dangerous foreign society, definitely give this one a go because it’s worth it!
7/11/14 ETA: I’ve been made aware that since my review posted there’s been a new edition of Undertow released that addresses the head-hopping issues I mentioned above. I haven’t confirmed this but if you’ve purchased Undertow, there should be an update available that does not contain the POV switches. So, go update (or buy if you haven’t already!) and read the book!
Overall Impression: I loved it!
*I received a copy of this book from the author in return for a fair and honest review.*