Book Review: Dead Five’s Pass by Colin F. Barnes

19236731Title: Dead Five’s Pass

Author: Colin F. Barnes

Genre: Dark Fiction, Horror

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When a new cave is discovered in the Rocky Mountains, no one considered the terrible consequences that would follow.

A volunteer mountain rescuer dealing with the loss of a child, the break-up of a relationship and the grief of a rescue gone wrong, Carise Culey isn’t sure she’s the right person for the job when she receives an emergency call. A climber is missing, presumed dead, and his girlfriend is found bloodied, beaten and catatonic with fear.

Carise soon realizes the discovery of the cave is worse than anyone could have imagined and learns of another group of teenagers already on their way there. With the onset of harsh winter weather, and the threat of an unknown evil, she reaches out to her ex-boyfriend and fellow rescue volunteer, Marcel, for help.

The two must travel to the cave to save the kids, themselves, and perhaps all of humanity…

Dead Five’s Pass is a tense, frightening tale of ancient secrets, high stakes, and dark, dangerous places.

This is my first read by Colin F. Barnes, and it’s definitely far from dissapointing. Dead Five’s Pass is dark, terrible, and harbors a form of cosmic horror creepy enough to startle you in your seat. Very Lovecraftian, with a Cthulhu-like monster threatening the lives of people in a small town. I don’t typically find this type of dark fiction very creepy, but Colin F. Barnes succeeded where plenty of others have failed – Dead Five’s Pass is definitely terrifying, especially when you stop to think about what would happen if this took place in real life.

Carise, our main character, has some dark shadows in her past, most of them related to her relationship with her now ex-boyfriend, Marcel. However, when a distressed call arrives from a group of mountain climbers, Carise needs Marcel’s help if she wants to save those kids.

However, what Carise and Marcel find as they reach the mountain, is something darker than either of them could’ve imagined. Not only are the kids’ lives at stake, but perhaps even the lives of all humanity.

The story doesn’t rank that high in originality, but it offers plenty of fresh elements to make up for that. Carise is a troubled heroine, a failure at many things, and only succesful in a handful of others. This makes her intriguing. Marcel? Hardly as interesting. He’s okay, I suppose, but I found him kind of dull.

For a novella, I was truly impressed by the amount of character development and plot development. Carise at the end of the book barely resembles the Carise we met at the start.

Strong writing, good plot, solid characters, and creepy. What more can you want?


  1. Sounds like it should be checked out. From your description I could see this being a good topic for writers as well.

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