Author: Iain Rob Wright
When the gates open up, we wait for Them and they slaughter us. And the world’s alive with the sound of shrieks on the streets worldwide. When they walk into the room they pull us close and they’re gonna prove that we’re spinning with the spirit corrupt and they’ll lift us up in a wave of blood.
Ooh, baby, do you know what that’s worth? Ooh, hell is now a place on Earth. They say in hell, damnation comes first. Who made hell a place on Earth? Ooh, hell is now a place on Earth.
Right, now that that’s out of my system, let’s get this review on the road.
The world woke up one day to find that the planet had been littered by thousands of black stones. These odd stones will call out to anyone who happens to walk past them and tempt these poor souls to give in and touch them. If anyone is actually daft enough to touch the obsidian, veiny little stones their eyes literally melt in their heads after witnessing a world of torture and unimaginable horror. Fun times.
But that’s the very least of the problems these stones bring to mankind. You see, each stone is literally a gateway to Hell which, very shortly into the story, open up and let wave upon wave of the damned walk the earth seeking victims. The monsters from hell (usually scorched once-people) are twisted and vindictive, more concerned with maiming their victims and watching them slowly die from their wounds than anything else. These armies of the dead are led by the angels that fell with Lucifer and their only goal is to subjugate humans and to bring Hell’s reign to Earth.
There’s no rhyme or reason to where the gates appeared – some appeared in the middle of man’s most populated cities, one opened up in the middle of the Syrian desert, while another opened up at the bottom of the sea floor. What becomes abundantly clear is that when you have an eternity’s worth of the damned to fight against, mankind is in for a really long haul. The baby demons can be slaughtered easily enough but they have numbers on their side, while the Fallen are able to take entire arsenals without even being tickled, so it becomes apparent very early on that there isn’t an army on Earth can really take these guys on.
With God nowhere to be found while His mischievous children duke it out with His favourites, it’s up to the scattered remnants of mankind that are yet to be made into kebabs to try and push the demons back through the gates. Hopefully we can also sweep up the corpses that are clogging all the roads and making it virtually impossible for good, reasonable folk to get on with their Christmas shopping.
The Writing Style
Everything (well, almost everything, but I’ll come back to that) about the way this book is written is sheer perfection, and the subject matter is one of my favourites in horror (book or otherwise). Starting with the monsters, there’s this amazing contrast between the demonic foot soldiers who are horribly burned and bleeding but speak with an intelligence that is undeniably human on the one hand, while on the other there are the Fallen – visually immaculate creatures that glow with a divine radiance but whose behaviour is completely inhuman and borderline bestial.
There is no central character to this book, and we instead follow a handful of people scattered across the world from different walks of life as they try to make it through the apocalypse. These characters are completely realised and make you genuinely care about what happens to them. That said, like The Walking Dead, you’re gonna spend a lot of time wondering if these characters are actually gonna make it, because Mr Wright isn’t scared to kill off a few of them.
From the very first page of this book right up until 99% through my attention was held in rapture and I couldn’t have praised Iain Rob Wright more highly for the amazing work he’d done. Unfortunately it would appear that Mr Wright ran out of paper, because the book just abruptly finishes without resolving anything.
The problem with this is that the story isn’t set up as one that will have an open ending, and there are so many little pieces of information that are thrown in which seem absolutely intriguing but, because there isn’t a real ending, you never find out what bearing these were meant to have on the plot (for example, the Fallen refer to both Lucifer and the Red Lord, with the latter being in charge of the former – as a spoiler alert, you’re not going to find out who the Red Lord is).
What also creates false expectation is the fact that, when read on a Kindle, there’s a giant little chunk at the end of the book which you assume is going to be the final chapter, but it isn’t. So you sit there waiting to see what happens, only to be left sorely disappointed.
On the one hand I want to give this a 10/10 for grabbing me the way it did, but on the other I want to give it 0/10 for just leaving everything up in the air. So I guess I’ll just whack it right in the middle; if this turns out to be the first book in a series I will amend the score accordingly.