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4.6 out of 5 stars
The Hunted: A Novel
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
If you like Frank Peretti (The Oath, Monster), you'll love this Christian novel by Mike Dellosso. This powerful, edge-of-your-seat suspense tale has everything you'd expect from a good Peretti: scary scenes, a supernatural battle between the forces of good and evil, flawed Christian characters who struggle with their faith, spiritual warfare, a town with a dark secret, a touch of romance, a freakish monster on the prowl for his next victim, nail-biting suspense, and lots of well-crafted action.

This novel has everything going for it. The mysterious plot is fresh and original, and Mike does an excellent job of dangling the mystery over the head of the reader and very slowly revealing it bit by bit. He kept me guessing and the pages turning. The novel also offers several powerful spiritual themes about prayer and about returning to the God we sometimes turn our back on. The story's message has stayed with me long after I finished the last page.

This is an amazing debut novel that kept me hooked from the first chapter. I had a hard time putting this book down, and I'm eager to see what Mike does next. Check out this novel. You won't be disappointed. It's better than most Ted Dekker I've read. Deeper. More complex. More spiritually satisfying. I especially enjoyed the ending. Just when I thought the story was over, culminating in a creepy hunt in the fog, more was yet to come. Don't miss it. This novel delivers. Just be sure to keep the light on.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
Reading a debut novel can be like going on a first date. There's a sense of mystery, thrill, wonder, and the fear that this might not go well. Or, if it does go well, you ask yourself if it's a long-term deal. In the case of Mike Dellosso, I think I've found an author I'll stand by for years to come.

"The Hunted" establishes a new voice in the suspense market. We find ourselves in small-town Pennsylvania, where grisly scenarios are being discovered as a new threat unveils old secrets. Joe Saunders is pulled into the mystery by his relationship to a victim, and his former feelings for the local female police chief.

Dellosso writes with a keen eye to detail, in much the same way Stephen King captures small-town life and personal histories. At times, these details seem a bit ponderous for their place in the story, but most often they add realism that nicely balances the plot's horrific aspects. Dellosso doesn't wallow in the horrors, but he makes them seem truly dangerous and threatening to any and all.

Nicely paced, "The Hunted" wanders through the landscape of both modern and traditional horror writers. I was reminded at times of some Nathaniel Hawthorne short stories, at others of Scott Nicholson's rural scares. Through it all, Dellosso weaves a spiritual thread that reminds us of the power of prayer and God's place in the midst of tragedy.

I can't wait to see what Dellosso has coming up next. I'm already anxious for a second date.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
The Hunted by Mike Dellosso is a powerful thriller in the vein of Frank Peretti with a hint of Stephen King. Joe Saunders has to return to his hometown when his young nephew, Caleb, is mysteriously attacked by a strange animal. Joe hasn't been home in 15 years, because he's been avoiding facing up to the mistakes he's made in his past. His former girlfriend, Maggie Gill, is now the Chief of Police who is in charge of investigating the incident. But soon, Joe finds that Maggie seems more interested in covering up or denying the increasing attacks, and when he starts to investigate for himself, he discovers that his hometown is filled with generations of secrets and lies, and only the truth will save them all. Dellosso's debut novel definitely reminded me of Peretti's The Oath. I was impressed that through the darkness of his writing, he's able to portray a visible hope and deep faith. He keeps the tension going by writing like great horror films: he keeps the truth behind the monster under wraps until the last possible moment, drawing nerves to the breaking point: well done! And Dellosso throws in a twist at the end: I thought the end was rather anticlimactic until I turned the page and discovered the story was far from over. A stellar work by a first time author!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
While playing in the woods with his friends, eleven-year-old Caleb Saunders is viciously attacked by a large, snarling, mysterious animal. His uncle Joe, a man struggling with his newfound faith, sets out on a mission to find the creature. Along the way he rekindles a friendship, and maybe something more, with the local Chief of Police who's on a mission of her own. The two uncover things about themselves and the monster terrorizing their community they wish they hadn't.

As you read The Hunted you can't help but draw comparisons to another celebrated monster story--The Oath by Frank Peretti. Both feature heroes bent on finding a rogue animal (a bear in The Oath, a lion in The Hunted) who's either killed or hurt someone they love. Their female counterparts are law enforcement officers with pasts, and there's a spiritual battle raging behind what's happening in the physical realm. The Hunted has a little less gore and symbolism than The Oath but fits the horror/supernatural vein perfectly. I cut my Christian fiction teeth on Frank Peretti, so it was a pleasure to find a worthy counterpart in The Hunted.

It's refreshing to pick up a novel like this one which engages us right from the start and doesn't shy from Biblical truths. It's a dark world. We need more light in our books, and The Hunted lets it shine. It still delves into the gritty reality of its characters, but with a restraint that's appreciable.

A recent trend in Christian fiction is toward vague spiritual references and good stories that don't include swearing, sex or graphic violence but also don't include much in the way of Christian content, either. There's certainly a place for all types of novels, but it can be disappointing to pick up a book from a Christian publisher that really has no spiritual takeaway other than the characters believing in God. Dellosso's first novel doesn't disappoint. It's sure to earn him shelf space alongside the "greats" like Peretti and Dekker.

I was honored to have the chance to endorse The Hunted as follows:

From page one The Hunted grabbed me by the collar and wouldn't let go. It's full of intrigue, supernatural undertones, and true-to-life characters. I highly recommend this superb debut novel. Mike Dellosso could very well be the next Frank Peretti--if you liked The Oath and Monster, you are going to love The Hunted.

--Reviewed by C.J. Darlington for TitleTrakk
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Hunted has everything needed for a good suspense novel. A hero that has to learn how to be heroic, a small town (Dark Valley) with a mix bagged of characters for residents, a demented villain driven by forces beyond his control, unseen monsters that lurk in the darkness, and a twist ending that hits you out of right field just when you thought all the loose ends had been tied up.

When Joe Saunders' nephew turns up missing Joe is drawn back to a place he would just as soon forget. Called by his sister-in-law, Joe returns to the site of a personal failure that has haunted him for years and the love he walked away from without looking back. To complicate matters, that love is now the Chief of Police. Whether Maggie Gill is friend or foe is a large part of the story. She is fourth generation law enforcement and part of a family that has carried a burden for nearly a hundred years known only as "the Secret."

Something is prowling the woods and back roads of Dark Valley leaving a path of death in its wake. Something that will force Joe Saunders to use every bit of strength and courage he has and then appeal to God for what he does not have. That too is a challenge since Joe hasn't exactly been on speaking terms with God for some time.

Mike Dellosso breaks all the rules in current Christian fiction: his stories are classic horror, he ignores the current rule of intricate pre-plotting before writing, and he is unapologetic is his direct presentation of overt spiritual themes. I can only hope others will follow his example.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 18, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Mike Dellosso has written an excellent first novel. Great characters, well crafted story with a clever way of exposing the secrets of Dark Hills, just enough creeps to make me a bit more careful when hiking through the woods and a fantastic grand finale that lasts nearly 80 pages. It's good to see strong followers of Christ in a Christian novel and not just those seeking. Spiritually speaking the book is a five star.

Two things I had a bit of a problem with but they're minor. First, I'm not one for long descriptions in a thriller. An example would be I really don't care what someone's home decor looks like especially when in a few pages they're dead. It wasted a page and a half, it adds nothing to the story and slows down the pace of a thriller to a crawl. In The Hunted's case this happened a few times too many. Secondly some of the characters thoughts were redundant which also slowed down the stories rhythm.

All in all this is a great book and I'm looking forward to reading his next novel. If you're looking for an adventure do yourself a favor and get this book.

Please remember Mike in your prayers as he goes through this tough time in his life. Jesus is still in the healing business.

1 Star = Pathetic
2 Stars = Fair
3 Stars = Good
4 Stars = Excellent
5 Stars = Life changing
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
Advice to supernatural thriller fans -- pick up The Hunted, sink your teeth into it, and prepare for a wild ride. Debut author Mike Dellosso's prose is solid and descriptive. His characters are well-drawn, distinctive and believable. Twisted and fast-moving, the story delivers plenty of creeps and thrills. Dellosso delivers a solid plot line that intensified in the heart of the book and carried through to the end, no soggy middle here. Issues of faith were handled honestly and with sensitivity.

I whipped through The Hunted often reading "just one more chapter" and am giving it 4 enthusiastic stars. I found The Hunted to be a very well-written, intense first novel and I'm looking forward to reading more from Mike Dellosso.

Chickens, consider yourselves warned. You may find some scenes to cluck about...
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Format: Paperback
Hide and seek an innocent game kids play, right? Right. Until a bizarre animal joins in the fun and viciously attacks one of the players. In The Hunted, young Caleb Sanders learns this lesson the hard way. He sneaks into an abandoned basement, the perfect place to hide from his buddies, and is brutally mauled by an unidentified animal. At first it appears as if he is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, but soon you begin to ask if there is more to Caleb's attack. Has God put him in the beast's path for a special purpose? A purpose beyond belief and one that only Caleb's uncle can figure out?

When Joe Sanders learns of his nephew's attack, Joe rushes to Caleb's side. The boy sinks into a coma and Joe vows to find the animal that hurt Caleb no matter the cost. But has Joe spoken too soon? Can he imagine the cost that will be exacted? Does he have the internal fortitude to confront his past, confront his guilt over his brother's death, and finally unload his emotional baggage in time to save Caleb?

And just as important, how will he face the woman he'd left behind years ago without any explanation? Not that he has a choice. He has to see her again as she is now the Chief of Police for Dark Hills and is in charge of the investigation. In a search for the beast, Maggie and Joe are thrown together and buried feelings rise to the surface. But Maggie holds a secret that stands in the way of rekindling their relationship and in the way of finding the beast that is now attacking and killing other residents of the small town.

Can Joe unlock Maggie's secret before other's are killed? Can he find and stop the beast? And can he forgive himself and learn to trust God again, even when faced with his own mortality? Oh, and does Caleb survive--come out of his coma? These are all questions that you will want the answers to once to start reading The Hunted.

Mike Dellosso has penned a supernatural thriller that is as much spellbinding as it is a study in human frailties and the need for God. The plot is simple really--animal attacks, man searches for and hunts down animal. It is the powerful human struggles over faith, past mistakes, and forgiveness that really makes this a special book. One that even those who don't enjoy supernatural stories should take the time to read.

Dellosso's writing is strong, exceptional really, especially for a first book. His descriptions, similes and metaphors are unique and worth savoring. His characters are deep, have individual voices and are so real, you are certain that you personally know them by the time the story ends. And the author's faith and relationship with God comes shining through in his characters.

When I read fiction, I read with two hats on. One a reader, the other a writer. It is not often when both sides are not only satisfied by a book, but excited about it as well. The Hunted is one of those rare books that met and exceeded the expectations of both sides. This is especially surprising as I never read supernatural stories. And for those of you out there who don't read fantasy or visionary books because you can't wrap your head around such a world, trust me. You can be a full-fledged skeptic and still enjoy The Hunted. Pick it up now. You won't be disappointed.
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VINE VOICEon July 28, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
When I was around age 9, I received a poster from VBS. The picture was of a lion leaping out of the grass with teeth bared and claws extended. Its purpose was to serve as a reminder of 1 Peter 5:8 which says, "...Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour." While I was reading The Hunted, this picture kept reappearing in my mind. A vicious lion seeking to devour.

The past is a funny thing. It often comes back to haunt. For the people of Dark Hills, PA, it came in the form of a beast. A simple child's game marked the beginning of the nightmare. Young Caleb Saunders and his friends were playing a game called Man Hunter. However, Caleb never dreamed he would become real prey--viciously mauled and left for dead. Is he the victim of a random attack or the beginning of a mystery that dates back to 1922. It's up to Caleb's Uncle Joe to put together the pieces of the buried secrets to stop the mysterious beast of the present.

In many ways The Hunted is a rare find. It integrates a variety of topics in an immensely entertaining and suspenseful story. It's dark and deep, with little nuggets of goodies to be discovered in every chapter. While the story in the present is enjoyable, the best part is in the past. I love how Dellosso leads Joe through discovering the secrets of Dark Hills. He keeps the current story going, but really builds the suspense with snippets of the past. Since the background is so enticing, I was somewhat disappointed when it didn't feel complete. I wanted more and could easily see a prequel to this book based on the events of the past.

I am a suspense junkie, and Dellosso delivers some very good fixes. Several times through out The Hunted, a scene will unfold altering between different character's points of view. These scenes are wonderfully suspenseful and help to draw the reader to the action, creating some eerily intense moments.

For an author's first book, I was quite impressed with The Hunted. At times, I could have done without a few of the Christian lectures, but for the most part it was very well written. There were many rich themes which will give something to contemplate for awhile. It has some great challenges for Christians in terms of how we view and limit God and would be a good book to dissect as part of a small group Bible study.
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on June 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
When Joe hears that his nephew Caleb has gone missing, he immediately sets off for the town where his sister-in-law and nephew live to help out with the searching. Through God's grace Caleb is found-horribly mauled by some strange animal, but alive.

Unfortunately, the next people to meet the beast weren't as lucky, and it soon becomes apparent that it's on a mission and that it will take extraordinary strength to stop it. But how, when they don't even know what it is? Those who've caught a glimpse of it claims it's a lion, and the remains would indicate the same thing, but who has ever heard of a lion loose in America? The first hunting trip goes terribly amiss, and after that the local chief of police, Maggie Gill, suddenly clams up and will reveal nothing further about its whereabouts. It's therefore up to Joe to puzzle the pieces together: Chief Maggie's silence; a retarded reclusive who knows more than he lets on; and the return of a mysterious beast that terrorized the woods 80 years ago.

Mike Dellosso has been named the next Frank Peretti and with good reason. He manages to build and hold a level of suspense I've yet to find in the writings of any other author. Also regarding plot, The Hunted is very similar to The Oath, and if you liked one, you're bound to enjoy the other as well.

I'm among those who liked The Oath so I had very high hopes for The Hunted, and fortunately I wasn't disappointed. This is a very impressive first book from a new author who shows great potential. The level of suspense he manages to sustain is unmatched by most other authors, and had my eyes racing ahead of me to see what would happen next. Mike's love for God is very obvious, and he manages to make these views a natural part of the book, instead of falling into the trap of having it seem tacked on and sermonizing.

Don't read this book if you're home alone after dark. But do read it in broad sunlight and enjoy this fascinating page-turner from a promising new author.

Armchair Interviews agrees.
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