Silent Came the Monster: A Novel of the 1916 Jersey Shore Shark Attacks
Genre: Historical fiction, historical thriller.
Coming in Spring 2023 from Blackstone Publishing in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats.
What the book is about:
A rogue shark upends the Jersey Shore, paradise for the wealthy and genteel, during the summer of 1916.
A high society historical novel merged with a pulse-pounding thriller of a larger-than-life threat.
During the summer of 1916, a surgeon at the Jersey Shore fights denial, conspiracy theories, defiance, and confusion in a desperate attempt to convince a skeptical public that the culprit behind a series of fatal attacks is a shark, not a huge sea turtle or German U-boat, and that it will strike again. Inspired by a series of true events.
"Sharks are as timid as rabbits."
So says a superintendent of the Coast Guard, dismissing the possibility that a shark could be the culprit in an unprecedented fatal attack on a swimmer at the Jersey Shore.
It's July 1916, a time when little is known about ocean creatures, and swimming in the sea is a relatively new pastime. Americans up and down the East Coast are shocked and mystified by the swimmer's death. Little do they know that this is only the beginning.
A prominent surgeon at the shore, Dr. Halsey, after examining the wounds of the first victim, is the only person who believes that the creature is a shark and that it will strike again. But the public as well as the authorities—and even those who witnessed the attacks—don't believe him. Dr. Halsey finds himself fighting widespread confusion, conspiracy theories, defiance, and outright denial of the shark.
Seeking the input of commercial fishermen, Dr. Halsey learns that they have long been concerned about a creature they call the beast. The local Native Americans, the Lenape, have their own beliefs as well.
The shark attacks occur in an already fraught time. A brutal war rages in Europe, and Americans are divided about becoming involved. Meanwhile, an unprecedented outbreak of "infantile paralysis" (polio) creates widespread panic. Into this scenario, the sea monster arrives. But what is it? Theories range from a huge mackerel to a giant sea turtle, or even a German submarine.
The story of the 1916 Jersey Shore shark, believed to be a great white, changed the way Americans think of the seashore, reminding us once again that nature plays by its own rules.
Copyright Amy Hill Hearth
Early Praise for Silent Came the Monster:
"A mere five words into this gripping story I could hear the thrum of the Jaws music inside my head. Based on real-life events, Amy Hill Hearth captures two weeks of terror in an age of innocence. A riveting tale. Be bold — make it your beach read."
—Marshall Karp, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"A deeply compelling novel rich with historical detail and surprising parallels to our modern world."
—Hester Young, author of The Gates of Evangeline and The Burning Island
"Wherever Amy Hill Hearth turns her attention, history comes alive. In this novel, we discover the sun-splashed beauty of the Jersey Shore in the summer of 1916, when the threat of war, a polio epidemic, and a dangerous great white shark threaten the residents and tourists, and the fear of these threats hang above the ocean like storm clouds. Silent Came the Monster is a thrilling, unforgettable journey into the past."
—Peter Golden, author of Nothing Is Forgotten
"This book does not come out until May but I gobbled it up"..."awesome"..."does not disappoint."
-Skylark Bookstore, Columbia, Missouri, the first bookstore to review the book.
Book Review, the_britishbookworm, Becca Bradley, Dorset UK, Jan. 1, 2023
***** Five Stars
Silent Came the Monster
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…
"Sharks are as timid as rabbits." So says a superintendent of the Coast Guard, dismissing the possibility that a shark could be the culprit in an unprecedented fatal attack on a swimmer at the Jersey Shore.
It's July 1916, a time when little is known about ocean creatures, and swimming in the sea is a relatively new pastime. Americans up and down the East Coast are shocked and mystified by the swimmer's death. Little do they know that this is only the beginning."
Having been born by the sea and spending my first thirty years living by it, I have always been fascinated by what lies beneath that often glassy surface. Add to that watching the eponymous film Jaws at a very young age, and you can imagine, my eyes lit up when I saw that there was a possibility of reading an ARC of Amy Hill Hearth's first-ever historical thriller, Silent Came the Monster, on NetGalley. After submitting my request, I checked my emails constantly in the hope I would be selected, and then the confirmation came through, and my life was made!
I flew through this book at a rate of knots as I could not put it down. In the opening chapter, it's 1880, and the captain of a 19ft catboat (named so by fishermen having to shoo cats from the boat that were after the dead fish) and his greenhorn deckhand are being stalked by something in the water…
"The deckhand saw it first. Sweet Jesus, what is that? he asked himself. Before he could get a good look, the creature dove beneath the surface."
From this opening chapter, the story jumps forward to the first of July 1916 and the start of Independence Day celebrations, which means only one thing for the small beachside community of Beach Haven…tourists. And for the shark…potential luncheon. It is at this early point in the story we meet the main protagonist Dr. Edwin Halsey, a surgeon called out on an emergency visit to the Engleside Hotel in Beach Haven. His patient? The victim of what appears to be a shark attack.
With the war ongoing in Europe, an outbreak of Polio, and more victims of this mysterious monster piling up, Dr. Halsey must fight to convince the locals that this is not a monster, a German submarine, or "The Beast" that the local fisherman have come to call it, but a living and very real thing. A thing that has the power to remind them all that no matter how in control they think they are, nature inevitably plays by its own rules…
This is not just a story about the horrific attacks that took the lives of four people in the twelve days that the shark roamed the shores; it is a story of courage, hope, grief, and resilience in the face of adversity. The characters are all beautifully written and have a tremendous depth that adds so much emotion to the story. And also, this book is peppered with beautiful snippets of local history, which, for any history buff, makes this book all the more difficult to put down! Reading this book has opened my eyes to so much more than just the shark attacks of 1916; I will also be looking to learn more about the Lenape people who inhabited that area for thousands of years before the colonists arrived as well as other facts that arose.
A huge thank you to Amy for putting your heart and soul into this book. Your knowledge of history shines through your writing, and it was a privilege to get to read it. And to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for sending me an ARC and making this bookworm's life. Thank you.
And if you want to know how it all ends then click on the links below to pre-order Silent Came the Monster which will be released in May 2023. I hope this book reels you in as it did me and that you add it to your spring TBR list!
As always, happy reading everyone!
Rating: FIVE STARS