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Cenote (Novelette): An Aquatic Cryptid Horror

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A vacation to Mexico is supposed to be about sun, sand, and drunken debauchery. It's not supposed to include being trapped in a cave and trying to keep your head above water, while slimy things watch you with gleefully hungry eyes. Ellie Hughes swears that if she makes it home alive, her travel agent is going to get such a bad review... A vacation to Mexico is supposed to be about sun, sand, and drunken debauchery. It's not supposed to include being trapped in a cave and trying to keep your head above water, while slimy things watch you with gleefully hungry eyes. Ellie Hughes swears that if she makes it home alive, her travel agent is going to get such a bad review...


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A vacation to Mexico is supposed to be about sun, sand, and drunken debauchery. It's not supposed to include being trapped in a cave and trying to keep your head above water, while slimy things watch you with gleefully hungry eyes. Ellie Hughes swears that if she makes it home alive, her travel agent is going to get such a bad review... A vacation to Mexico is supposed to be about sun, sand, and drunken debauchery. It's not supposed to include being trapped in a cave and trying to keep your head above water, while slimy things watch you with gleefully hungry eyes. Ellie Hughes swears that if she makes it home alive, her travel agent is going to get such a bad review...

30 review for Cenote (Novelette): An Aquatic Cryptid Horror

  1. 5 out of 5

    Merphy Napier

    Slow start but a really fun read with an ending I LOVED! Only an hour long audiobook but it stuck with me for a while

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Cenote This Novelette while brief was very interesting. I first heard about this Novelette from My Favorite Booktuber Merphy Napier who, also narrates the Audiobook Version. I found the ending to be absolutely incredible.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Latasha

    Thanks to Shaun for a copy of this audio book. this is my honest review: This was a fun and intense short story! i was really happy there was a cryptid in the story. that was fun. i loved the ending. Merphy Napier does such a great job reading this story.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gaby A.

    The story didn't vibe with me at all. If the book would have been longer I definitely would have stopped reading it. I pushed through because it was so short and I was just disappointed. The characters were very bland, I couldn't care less about what happened to them. Somehow the author managed to take a very scary setting and make a not so scary book where not much happens and the interesting psychological elements of being stuck in a cenote are replaced with spooOooky rocks and eels. The way it The story didn't vibe with me at all. If the book would have been longer I definitely would have stopped reading it. I pushed through because it was so short and I was just disappointed. The characters were very bland, I couldn't care less about what happened to them. Somehow the author managed to take a very scary setting and make a not so scary book where not much happens and the interesting psychological elements of being stuck in a cenote are replaced with spooOooky rocks and eels. The way it ended also left me dissatisfied. Really wasn't for me. (Also, major pet peeve for me was the casual slut shaming and the unnecessary description of the Ellie's boobs.)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This was a really short but very intense novelette. I listened to the audiobook and as the remaining time ticked down the intensity increased because you know that the characters in this book only have one chance to survive. Extremely quick read or listen, I recommend!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I honestly need a moment to recover after going through this experience. I had high hopes for this novelette after hearing the synopsis from a book reviewer, but was left with them throughly shattered. There are so many flaws to this novelette that it would take an essay to write them all. Let’s start with Ellie, oh Ellie. What a bland and awful character you are. Described as not being a ‘slut’, yet all she wants to do is sleep with men and expose herself at any given moment. I know nothing ab I honestly need a moment to recover after going through this experience. I had high hopes for this novelette after hearing the synopsis from a book reviewer, but was left with them throughly shattered. There are so many flaws to this novelette that it would take an essay to write them all. Let’s start with Ellie, oh Ellie. What a bland and awful character you are. Described as not being a ‘slut’, yet all she wants to do is sleep with men and expose herself at any given moment. I know nothing about this girl other than she has breasts, as they are mentioned every other page. Arturo is equally as bland. He is described as an ‘experienced diver and a strong swimmer’ yet struggles to hold his breath for over a minute and a half. He is dimwitted and uses the word ‘critter’, an almost exclusively American term, yet doesn’t know what a raccoon is. The only thing he seems capable of doing is squeezing Ellie, as this motion of ‘comfort’ happens too many times to note. Let’s talk about the writing. The dialogue is stiff and unnatural. There is also a clear confusion in time as events seem to happen and then are described again, eg.: they hit the water, then Ellie is described as choking as she hits the water after this event has already happened. And earlier when: ‘Ellie hopped over a large root, into the clearing and immediately sank into the ground, stumbling and falling over’, she has already hit the ground and then sank into it?! Everything is overly described, adjectives everywhere, please trust your readers to understand what is happening! You don’t need to say things like: ‘her words held an undertow of panic that threatened to sweep her away at any moment’ and then only a sentence later say: ‘her voice trembled now as the fear pulled at her ankles’, we already know she’s scared! Let us not forget the cliche phrases used, ‘like they had fallen into the stomach of a monster’, and, ‘swords of light stabbing down’. There is so much repetition, ‘undulating’, ‘softly’, ‘membrane’. There seems to be confusion about the setting of the story, as it claims at the start we are in Mexico, and then goes on to say Arturo knows all the marine animals of the Caribbean and then goes back to Mexico again... also, how big is this octopus? It can reach into the first cenote and then follow Arturo through the passages to the final cenote with its eel lure? I honestly wish I could get this hour of my life back, but I am just so speechless from the tragedy of this story. It had a great premise: a young couple falls into a hopeless situation, trapped with a carnivorous legendary creature. Instead, it was trashy with underdeveloped characters and barely any plot.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Adam Light

    This was a good short story, easy to devour in less than 30 minutes. The author posted this one free for the winter solstice, which was nice. When people are trapped in caves, it almost never goes well for them. That's all I need to say. I had fun reading this, and would recommend it to horror lovers. This was a good short story, easy to devour in less than 30 minutes. The author posted this one free for the winter solstice, which was nice. When people are trapped in caves, it almost never goes well for them. That's all I need to say. I had fun reading this, and would recommend it to horror lovers.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    this wasn't scary. also, it was sexist. this wasn't scary. also, it was sexist.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mackenzie Brogdon

    I didn't expect that ending... I didn't expect that ending...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Isabel Rincón

    Feels exactly like those not quite old slasher movies where the horny teenagers make the worst decisions ever and then suffer the consequences. The ending made up for that questionable beginning

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ali

    It's a good idea with poor execution. A tourist and a tour guide fall into a sink hole with no way out. It was a great opportunity to explore the horror of nature killing them slowly, but nothing really happens in the story. Most of the actually text in the story is the author giving really unnecessary details: the way the rocks look, the way the characters are breathing, how scared the characters are. But, it doesn't have a lot of plot to actually make those descriptions worth anything. The cha It's a good idea with poor execution. A tourist and a tour guide fall into a sink hole with no way out. It was a great opportunity to explore the horror of nature killing them slowly, but nothing really happens in the story. Most of the actually text in the story is the author giving really unnecessary details: the way the rocks look, the way the characters are breathing, how scared the characters are. But, it doesn't have a lot of plot to actually make those descriptions worth anything. The characters fall in a cenote and wait to die. That's about it. If I were to condense the actual plot of this 27-page story, you'd probably get about 3-5 pages of actual story. The descriptions could have been great to build suspense, but when it's 5 pages of describing the heavy breathing of the characters for every 1-page of actual things they should be scared of, it just seems gratuitous instead of actually scary. The twist of what happens in the end also wasn't very exciting, but that's my own personal opinion. (view spoiler)[Basically, the big thing that ends up killing the characters is a carnivorous giant squid rumored to traverse the cenotes. (hide spoiler)] Perhaps readers with lassaphobia will be thoroughly creeped out by this, but as someone with a background in marine science, it just didn't hit the mark. To me, the real creepiness of being trapped in a sinkhole is the idea that no one will find you. You'll be stuck there completely alone only with your own spiraling thoughts and the dripping of the water against the cave walls while you starve, shiver, and slowly die out. The excessive detail would have worked beautifully if that were the case here, with the characters describing the same cave walls over and over across days and days because it's the only thing they have to look at before going mad. Unfortunately, that's not what we get, so it doesn't serve any real purpose.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Webster

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I think this novelette would have benefitted from an additional 30 pages of anticipation and tension. The scenario the characters are trapped in is terrifying on its own but without a proper description of those emotions, and more details about the cenote itself, the reader is left with some serious gaps that make the story come across as dry and dull despite the plot. The writing was remarkably juvenile for the subject matter and even the "scary" scenes left A LOT to be desired, due in large pa I think this novelette would have benefitted from an additional 30 pages of anticipation and tension. The scenario the characters are trapped in is terrifying on its own but without a proper description of those emotions, and more details about the cenote itself, the reader is left with some serious gaps that make the story come across as dry and dull despite the plot. The writing was remarkably juvenile for the subject matter and even the "scary" scenes left A LOT to be desired, due in large part to the lack of build-up to the climactic scenes in this incredibly short book. The casual slut-shaming casually thrown in by the male author really just added to the list of things this story could have done without, along with the female protagonist's promiscuous best friend. SPOILERS Things I DID like: -the octopus using a 'lure' to get close to Arturo -Ellie thinking she was going to escape at the end Things I DID NOT like: -pacing -switching POV every other paragraph -writing style -the fact that HER TITTIES WERE OUT THE WHOLE TIME

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

    Arturo is gross. Slut shaming and praising Ellie for not wanting immediate sex. I liked when Arturo got eaten by the giant octopus but I didn't really like that Ellie did too. For me the fear of a Cenote is the no escape not the creepy sea life. I would love to see this done in a different way. Like if it was longer and we saw Ellie sort of going crazy in there since she doesn't know what to do. Written: 01/19/2021 Age: 18 Arturo is gross. Slut shaming and praising Ellie for not wanting immediate sex. I liked when Arturo got eaten by the giant octopus but I didn't really like that Ellie did too. For me the fear of a Cenote is the no escape not the creepy sea life. I would love to see this done in a different way. Like if it was longer and we saw Ellie sort of going crazy in there since she doesn't know what to do. Written: 01/19/2021 Age: 18

  14. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    Listened to the audiobook while swimming which certainly inspired a swifter swim. suffers a little from being so short and could have upped the creep factor with a little more time, but a solid short for a quick creepy read. Merphy Napier did a great jo with the audiobook

  15. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Ray

    Not very good, not very bad, but... I just can't buy a killer octopus. Not very good, not very bad, but... I just can't buy a killer octopus.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tanisha

    Really dark and creepy short story. Merphy recommended this in one of her videos and I am so glad I decided to read it. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.

  17. 4 out of 5

    R

    Sooooo creepy! This was eerie and made me feel true fear in my dorm room far away from any cenote. It did it’s job!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Neha Singh

    Really good short aquatic horror! Wish it was a little longer though

  19. 5 out of 5

    Asra Aslam

    Short dark and creepy read. It even made me jump once. Merphy Napier did a really good job with the audiobook.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Beckett

    Rating this novella was a real challenge for me. I kept switching between three and four stars; however, I ultimately had to opt for three because of the characterization (or lack thereof) in the first part of the story. Ellie and Arturo hit all of the beats required for a tourism horror movie. They felt so familiar, like characters out of 47 Meters Down or Aftershock or Turistas or a hundred other movies of the same ilk. They were so half-baked that it made rooting for them hard over the course Rating this novella was a real challenge for me. I kept switching between three and four stars; however, I ultimately had to opt for three because of the characterization (or lack thereof) in the first part of the story. Ellie and Arturo hit all of the beats required for a tourism horror movie. They felt so familiar, like characters out of 47 Meters Down or Aftershock or Turistas or a hundred other movies of the same ilk. They were so half-baked that it made rooting for them hard over the course of the novella. (view spoiler)[ Especially Arturo after the line: "She hadn't been like most of the sluts that came down to party between semesters." Oh, Arturo could not die quickly enough after that one. I was rooting for the giant octopus all the way. (hide spoiler)] In addition, they fell into the trap (both literal and figurative) of making impossibly bad decisions in a horror novella. The moment that Ellie started sinking into the ground, any rational person would have turned around and headed in the opposite direction. However, Ellie thought that clearing was the perfect spot for a little afternoon delight (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) and proceeded to run right up to the dark patch in the middle of the glade. There comes a point where you just have to condemn a character as being too dumb to live. However, after they fell down the cenote, I was completely sold! As a fan of spelunking, cave-based horror stories are some of my favorites. And cenotes, and the underground system of waterways that connect them, aren't explored nearly enough in this genre. Honestly, the title alone was enough to get me to click! Author Shaun Horton does a fantastic job building suspense and made me feel like I was trapped down in the cenote with them. And adding in the cryptid really amped up the suspense. (view spoiler)[ For as much as I didn't like Ellie, since she didn't have many characteristics except for "jealous of her friend's travel Instagram account" and "doesn't sleep with cute foreign boys until the third date", I was really rooting for her by the end of the novella. She was such a mess when they first plummeted down into the cenote, relying on Arturo to hold her hand through everything. She really made some character growth when she started making and executing her own plans for escape. Of course, those plans (and that character growth) were always destined to be cut short by the giant octopus, but it was still nice to see her go out fighting. (hide spoiler)] While Cenote wasn't perfect, I would definitely be interested in checking out some of Shaun Horton's other work.

  21. 5 out of 5

    François Thurston

    WANT *THE* HORROR BOOK TO MAKE YOU WANT TO SLEEP WITH THE LIGHT ON? DON'T WANT TOO MANY PAGES TO READ? TIRED OF ALL THE ADVERTISED 'HORRORS' THAT ARE A SNORE? LOOK NO FURTHER - CENOTE - SHAUN HORTON AND (THROUGH AUDIBLE) MERPHY NAPIER HAVE YOU COVERED! Ok so, I have been looking for a book to scare me since the beginning of the year. I tried a few horrors and found they were putting me 'to sleep' as opposed to making me want to 'reach for the light switch'. But this book TICKED ALL THE BOXES. Cons WANT *THE* HORROR BOOK TO MAKE YOU WANT TO SLEEP WITH THE LIGHT ON? DON'T WANT TOO MANY PAGES TO READ? TIRED OF ALL THE ADVERTISED 'HORRORS' THAT ARE A SNORE? LOOK NO FURTHER - CENOTE - SHAUN HORTON AND (THROUGH AUDIBLE) MERPHY NAPIER HAVE YOU COVERED! Ok so, I have been looking for a book to scare me since the beginning of the year. I tried a few horrors and found they were putting me 'to sleep' as opposed to making me want to 'reach for the light switch'. But this book TICKED ALL THE BOXES. Cons 1) If you don't like horror - then this book may not be the book for you as it actually is freaking scary! 2) The beginning - You have to push through the beginning as it opens up more like a romance. But Trust me, it gets the the horror quickly - push through. 3) It's too short (haha). Yes, even the perfect Horror Book (Novelette) can be too short. This book is defined as a Novelette purely because the page count is so small. I get it, I do. But it was SO GOOD I just wish I'd had more to consume. Pros 1) The Fear Factor - Shaun Horton writes in a way that has you feeling like you are literally right there expereincing the horror unfold yourself. 2) Merphy Napier - To those who read the physical book on it's own you're probably wondering who in the world I'm referring to. I listened to this as an audiobook because (for some backwards reason, I can't seem to get a copy of this book anywhere). Merphy Napier is the narrator of this book on Audible and OH MY GOSH WAS SHE AMAZING! I've listened to a few audiobooks in my time and no one - and I do mean no one - compares to the emotional vulnerability like Narrator Merphy Napier! Read the physical version? Great! Now listen to the audio! I dare you to tell me I'm wrong! IF YOU PLAN TO READ THIS BOOK - TRUST ME - LISTEN TO THE AUDIO YOU WON'T REGRET IT! 3) The 'Dark' ness - Shuan Hourton KNOWS how to write darkness in books. I literally can't say more as it would be considered a spoiler. TRUST ME - READ THE BOOK - WITH AUDIO - TO EXPERIENCE THE BRILLIANT COMBINATION OF HORTON AND NAPIER! You wont't regret it xoxo.

  22. 4 out of 5

    David Mcclung

    I don't know what it is about aquatic horror that just gives me the creeps, but it does the trick on me every time. I don't know if watching Jaws as a kid scarred me more than I realize or if I have some repressed oceanic trauma somewhere in my background. I love it though. Any description with "aquatic cryptid" in the description sucks me in like a tractor beam. Shaun Horton was kind enough to send me a copy of this novelette and I wanted to return the kindness with a review. This is a nice tau I don't know what it is about aquatic horror that just gives me the creeps, but it does the trick on me every time. I don't know if watching Jaws as a kid scarred me more than I realize or if I have some repressed oceanic trauma somewhere in my background. I love it though. Any description with "aquatic cryptid" in the description sucks me in like a tractor beam. Shaun Horton was kind enough to send me a copy of this novelette and I wanted to return the kindness with a review. This is a nice taut little thriller that scratches all the itches in underwater terror. I have to admit that I didn't know what a Cenote was until I listened to this book and that in and of itself is terrifying to me. There's a couple trapped in a Cenote with seemingly no way out. There's something lurking in the water and as you can imagine things go from bad to worse. If you're looking for a nice thrill packed quick read then check out Cenote. Good stuff here.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sim Alec Sansford

    Completely wrapped up in the story! I discovered this short after hearing about it on Merphy Napier’s YouTube channel. (Napier narrated the audiobook). I was immediately intrigued and the story did not disappoint. The start was slow and I found the characters to be unlock able at first, though I soon felt great empathy for them. It’s difficult to review without revealing too much, so all I will say is this is worth sticking with until the heart-stopping finale. A truly terrifying and enjoyable read Completely wrapped up in the story! I discovered this short after hearing about it on Merphy Napier’s YouTube channel. (Napier narrated the audiobook). I was immediately intrigued and the story did not disappoint. The start was slow and I found the characters to be unlock able at first, though I soon felt great empathy for them. It’s difficult to review without revealing too much, so all I will say is this is worth sticking with until the heart-stopping finale. A truly terrifying and enjoyable read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Emma-Louise

    4.5/5 read (but that is very much up for debate in my mind) For such a short story, I felt that it really packed a punch. It has a very eerie atmosphere and the characters are more developed than I feel most characters in short stories are. The creature in the story was able to evoke such a visceral reaction in me that it has haunted me for days after I finished it. It stayed with me for a long time, and I would definitely read/listen to it again.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Hanya Mostafa

    Overall Rating: 5.5 I listened to this on audio which was narrated by Merphy Napier and her narration was why I enjoyed this book as much. It was an interesting read and I recommend you check it out. It was atmospheric and I really liked the ending. I think that if the book was longer, I would have enjoyed it more. (view spoiler)[ If Arturo’s cause of death was kept a secret, Ellies’s death would have been more of a twist. (hide spoiler)] Overall Rating: 5.5 I listened to this on audio which was narrated by Merphy Napier and her narration was why I enjoyed this book as much. It was an interesting read and I recommend you check it out. It was atmospheric and I really liked the ending. I think that if the book was longer, I would have enjoyed it more. (view spoiler)[ If Arturo’s cause of death was kept a secret, Ellies’s death would have been more of a twist. (hide spoiler)]

  26. 4 out of 5

    Desirae

    Full disclosure: I'm here for Merphy. Naturally, its difficult to rate/review short stories, but I found the beginning to be rather trite - why should I care about Arturo's magic penis or Ellie's full breasts? If this was supposed to show character building, it didn't work. I really liked the octopus, though. The ending (view spoiler)[they both die in the end (hide spoiler)] was satisfying. Full disclosure: I'm here for Merphy. Naturally, its difficult to rate/review short stories, but I found the beginning to be rather trite - why should I care about Arturo's magic penis or Ellie's full breasts? If this was supposed to show character building, it didn't work. I really liked the octopus, though. The ending (view spoiler)[they both die in the end (hide spoiler)] was satisfying.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Erica Papes

    1.5 stars Good plot idea, but not a great execution. The scary part of this situation would have been the unknown and the gradually increasing anxiety of being trapped and losing hope. Instead, the plot progresses so quickly that there is absolutely no character development or time to build tension.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Isabelle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I liked it but I kind of wish the first death was mysterious so the second death would have been more of a twist. Since he died that same death earlier it was easy to predict that she would die that way. That being said I didn’t expect the octopus. I expected exposure, exhaustion, maybe even cannibalism? Either way it was interesting.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chesney Infalt

    3.5 Stars Horror is not normally my go-to genre, but this was a quick read that was recommended by a book reviewer I like. It didn’t interest me that much at first, but I’m glad I stuck around. The ending was well done, as was the anticipation leading up to it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Wow, I did not see this coming! First heard about this on Merphy Napier's YouTube channel (she is also the narrator), and was very curious about it. So glad I bought it, this was a slow, sinuous, creepy story and I did not see the ending coming! Wow, I did not see this coming! First heard about this on Merphy Napier's YouTube channel (she is also the narrator), and was very curious about it. So glad I bought it, this was a slow, sinuous, creepy story and I did not see the ending coming!

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