Tim Curran is a novelist from Michigan. Since 2003, Curran has authored nearly 15 novellas and over 25 full-length novels. His works are mostly horror-fiction with some fantasy and science-fiction elements. I've read a handful of his novellas and was anxious to try The Underdwelling. It was originally published in 2011 by the now defunct publisher Delirium. It now exists as an ebook via Crossroad Press.
The tale is set in a small community in rural Michigan. It's here that third-generation miner Boyd works in the deep underground caverns of Hobart Mine. He has a wife and a baby on the way and isn't afraid of the backbreaking, gritty hard work. But, being the new kid in the caves warrants a sort of hazing. He's mistreated as an incompetent rookie by his co-workers.
The senior crew members place Boyd on heavy grunt work on the lower bottom section of the mine. He's forced to dig out large limestone rocks so the crews can harvest the precious ore. After a disastrous break in the mine's interior walls, Boyd and four others fall into a huge underground chasm of petrified forest.
As the five men begin to claw their way back out of the rubble, they are surprised to hear bizarre sounds coming from the lower darkness. Exploring this petrified forest, the group finds what resembles a village comprised of fossils of various animals. When the sounds start to creep closer, Boyd and his co-workers find that something is among them in the dark.
The Underdwelling displays Curran's phenomenal storytelling skills. His descriptions had me breathing the dense dust and grime with these five characters. The sense of unease and isolation was so thick that I felt rushed just to read it. I wanted to escape this darkened prison and reach the surface light. The atmosphere, characters and pace made this story a real pleasure to read. Highly recommended.