Hellgate Review

Hellgate by Morgon Newquist Book Cover

Here at the Periapsis Press blog, we only post reviews of works we recommend, so you already know I enjoyed Hellgate. I encourage you to check it out!

Hellgate Publisher Description:

Emilia King has made an art of bad choices. Just ask her mother, she’ll tell you every single thing she’s done wrong for years.

When her latest bad choice changes the locks to their apartment and leaves all her stuff on the doorstep, Emilia can’t bear to hear “I told you so” one more time. So she moves in with her grandfather. Then she can have some space to figure out who…and what she wants to be, without her mother breathing down her neck.

What she finds there is anything but peace. Her grandfather battles invisible creatures in the dark. Neighbors torn apart by wild beasts.

Not to mention the moody, gorgeous man across the street with the motorcycle. The kind of man that’s her kryponite.

But when her grandfather falls ill, his position of head of the Neighborhood Watch falls to her. And in this neighborhood, it’s more than measuring grass height or catching petty thefts.

As she uncovers her grandfather’s double life, his mistakes are coming back to stalk the neighborhood in the form of a vicious, shapeshifting beast. Thrust into a world of magic and monsters, Emilia is out of her depth.

Can she save the neighborhood? And do it without falling for the fae across the street?

Morgon Newquist moves into Urban Fantasy with this fast paced, witty urban fantasy series about an unusual Neighborhood Watch. Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Bella Forrest will love Hellgate’s female hero, handsome fae, and magical battles.

Join the Neighborhood Watch today and read Hellgate!

Tags:

[tags]

Follow Morgon Newquist:

Review: Hellgate by Morgon Newquist

Hellgate is a paranormal suburban fantasy with both classic horror and romance elements. This driving story throws a relatable female lead alongside two compelling romantic interests in a fight against a demon wolf, all with harrowing tension and an uplifting theme. A great start for the Neighborhood Watch series!

This review contains minor spoilers.

Sympathetic Female Lead

Emilia makes for an extremely relatable main character. She doesn’t feel contrived or pandering, which is easy to fall into in this genre, when she is placed alongside men and against monsters during action scenes.

There are some elements of a supernatural strength she possesses, certainly to be developed later in the series, but the bulk of her success stems from diligence. Emilia has made a point of running daily, building strength and stamina. It is this consistency that pays off for her most, not any latent powers she may possess. This alone sets her apart as an admirable hero.

Emilia has some flaws, but the story’s inciting incident is made possible because she is actively attempting to grow and leave her “old” life behind. She becomes particularly sympathetic to me in her healthy thought life; she reigns in negativity, even when frustrated, and turns her focus to doing the right thing.

Strong Supporting Characters

The other characters were diversely written. Of course, the two male romantic interests are both attractive in different ways—one hot bad boy and one hot quiet type—giving rise to the typical question of “who will she choose.”

However, the other characters of the story are beautifully varied in their individuality. Lydia, whose character is only really present by reputation, serves as a foil for her daughter. The neighbor lady contrasts Lydia. Emilia’s grandfather is complemented by his best friend, who has his own interests and traits. The result is a believable community.

Focused Setting

The setting came across as very tight: a suburban neighborhood and the woods nearby. It felt very manageable and easily visualized. A place protected by a neighborhood watch, in the traditional sense of the word (as opposed to certain friendly “neighborhood” superheroes who recently protected the multiverse).

Important elements, such as the abandoned church in the woods, were introduced before they became plot points. The nice small setting with reusable, versatile locations allows the reader to feel familiar there, too.

This is why I shy away from terming the story as “urban” fantasy. Urban settings tend to suggest an unwieldy size, by necessity filled with never explored areas and unaware non-characters. The events take place in locations connected only by taxi, breaking the plot into scenes as on a stage. Hellgate’s more focused setting allows the plot to continuously pick up speed, without these awkward breaks.

Driving Plot

This story isn’t a paranormal romance. There is plenty of paranormal and the romance is present, but it is a subplot and does not direct the main beats of the story. The primary genre is more along the lines of a classic horror story.

The basic premise is a monster tale, with the story beats related to discovering the monster’s origin, weaknesses, and setting up traps and defenses. And there are good classic defenses, too, which combine some religious lore (such as holy ground) with fae lore (such as herbs and mushroom circles).

Newquist raises the stakes consistently with good “yes, but—no, and” tactics. The traps and defenses set up by the heroes work, but a new problem arises; or they don’t work, and now they are in even greater danger! The tension pushes the reader through the story at a breakneck speed.

Romance

The romantic subplot keeps the tension high, even when the monster is not present. The male leads are attractive and compelling, providing plenty of juicy interactions, especially as the two are friendly to begin with. The conflict is light, serving as a welcome diversion from the driving force of the main plot, yet insistent, keeping the story from settling between the confrontations. As with any good love triangle, the pull between the two men is believable, unpredictable, and poignant.

The subplot is largely defined by the female gaze. For those less familiar with this term, it is more than the opposite of the more commonly discussed “male gaze.” It certainly includes the objectification of the male body, as seen through the eyes of a sexually interested female. However, it also encompasses an awareness of the woman’s own body and the effect she has on men.

For Emilia, this results in a boldness to reciprocate the attention she receives from the two male love interests. I wasn’t always completely comfortable with the level of lust she displayed, and she often chose to put herself in improper situations. I could explain them to my satisfaction by pointing to her old life, which she was clearly trying to grow beyond. Her references to her old boyfriend and her “weakness” for bad boys on motorcycles seem to support this theory.

It will be interesting to see where the romantic arch goes in subsequent books. The story’s conclusion, with Emilia’s answer to the “who will she choose” question, casts her relationships with the two young men going forward in even more uncertainty.

Uplifting Themes

Emilia serves as a vehicle for at least two inspiring themes. The first arises from her general situation. She has chosen to place herself with her grandfather instead of her mother. At face value this decision was motivated by a desire to avoid her mother’s judgement, however, throughout the story we see the importance of placing yourself in a situation where you can heal and grow.

Emilia’s new community, from her grandfather to her new neighbors, gives her love and encouragement. They remember her from her childhood or know her through the enthusiasm of her grandfather’s recommendation. Rather than her mother’s familiarity with her failings, there is space for Emilia to begin rebuilding her identity beyond them.

The community does not stop at providing a safe place for healing, however. Nearly everyone has healthy expectations for her, too. Things that she has the capability to accomplish, where her mother’s expectation has become (perhaps unintentionally) for her to fail.

Sometimes, we don’t have control over our situation, but Emilia serves as an example of taking proactive steps to change what we can control and choosing to spend time with others who encourage us to become better people.

The second theme is tied to diligence, which I mentioned earlier. The constant raising of the stakes in the plot means that Emilia has to be determined and work through difficulties instead of giving up.

Check Out Hellgate!

Hellgate is a compelling and satisfying story! I look forward to reading more about the actual Hellgate and Emilia’s adventures in the rest of the Neighborhood Watch series!

Subscibe for Updates:


Loading

Get a Second Opinion:

Related Posts:

Hell Spawn Review

Hell Spawn by Declan Finn Book Cover

Here at the Periapsis Press blog, we only post reviews of works we recommend, so you already know I enjoyed Hell Spawn. I encourage you to check it out!

Publisher Description:

My name is Officer Thomas Nolan, and I am a saint.

Tommy Nolan lives a quiet life. He walks his beat – showing mercy to the desperate. Locking away the dangerous. Going to church, sharing dinner with his wife and son. Everyone likes Tommy, even the men he puts behind bars.

Then one day a demon shows up and he can smell it. Tommy can smell evil – real evil. Now he’s New York City’s only hope against a horrifying serial killer that preys on the young and defenseless.

But smell alone isn’t enough to get a warrant. Can Tommy track down the killer and prove his guilt?

Dragon Award Nominated Author Declan Finn returns with his typical action-packed, Catholic influenced style, in this groundbreaking horror series about an honest, religious man given the powers of a saint to fight demons in the Big Apple.

How do you do forensics on a killer possessed by a demon?

Can Tommy catch the killer before he becomes a martyr? Or will the demon bring darkness beyond imagination to the whole of New York? Read Hell Spawn today and find out!

Tags:

[tags]

Follow Declan Fin:

Review: Hell Spawn by Declan Fin

Hell Spawn is an action packed novel that is one part exorcism horror, one part urban fantasy. This first installment in the Saint Tommy, NYPD series reverberates with tension, featuring physical battles with the demon-possessed, God-given superpowers, and chillingly palpable evil.

This review contains minor spoilers.

Fantasy Horror

Hell Spawn takes place in New York City and stars a sharp detective with powers that enable him to stand up to powerful, supernatural forces.

The mash-up of urban fantasy, with its tendency towards high stakes and grueling fight scenes, injects the exorcism horror premise with non-stop action and retribution against evil.

Strong Action

These powers, including bilocation and healing, deliver most of the action. Tommy is a likable character and the demon he faces off with equivalently loathsome, making every confrontation a suspenseful one-two punch of trepidation and gratification.

The story kept up the pace, too. When the action let up, the tension swept in to replace it in a drive towards the satisfying conclusion. This story starts the series, but stands alone well, without compromising on the comeuppance that evil deserves.

Urban

Declan Fin’s NYC is grim, as the setting for a story with both a serial killer and a demon must be. However, it is not “dark” in the sense that it is not hopeless. There is a sense of community and belonging for most of the people we meet, and even the criminal element in the neighborhood works to keep out the worse bad guys.

Of course, Fin also taps into the fear such dense population presents to the mind, that you don’t truly know your neighbors and you are never far from threats to your family.

The contemporary, real-world setting is starker than most examples of urban fantasy due to the blatant naming of activist groups and the incorporation of real-world antagonists taking actions we recognize as evil as opposed to mythological beings whose behavior has cataclysmic consequences but may be morally muddled.

Horror

And that is from where the true horror in Hell Spawn springs: not the debilitating agony of a loved one held hostage by a demon, as so often seen in exorcism horror, but from real-world perpetrators of evil much closer to home. The evil usually kept safely behind the fourth wall and the suspension of disbelief is undeniably part of our world, our country, our cities.

Of course, this existential sort of horror is not the only kind present in Hell Spawn. There is a great deal of body horror, due to the nature of the serial killer, and a truly shudder-inducing haunting sequence.

Reckoning

But, to reiterate, Tommy gives this evil no quarter. Instead of the typical, possession tale trajectory, there is no wallowing in helplessness, no harrowing battle with one’s own guilty conscience, no futile death with the demon still at large. Fin’s upstanding hero has been empowered by God to lay the smack down.

The demon can only possess a willing and degenerate host—a simple mechanism which makes all the delicious vengeance possible. There is no young girl thrashing around and projectile vomiting because she played with a Ouija board (although that is still not advisable).

Instead, it is depraved criminals—people who actively reject redemption and embrace their own demonic possession—who face off with the hero. There is no need for him to pull his punches.

Check Out Hell Spawn!

Hell Spawn is an intense ride that delivers both dreadful terror and righteous retribution. This is an amazing start to Saint Tommy’s journey!

Subscibe for Updates:


Loading

Related Posts:

The Mummy of Monte Cristo Review

The Mummy of Monte Cristo by J Trevor Robinson Book Cover

Here at the Periapsis Press blog, we only post reviews of works we recommend, so you already know I enjoyed The Mummy of Monte Cristo. I encourage you to check it out!

Disclaimer: We received a copy of this book from the author for the purpose of review. This in no way influences our opinions. (You can request a review here.)

The Mummy of Monte Cristo Publisher Description:

Revenge takes time; fortunately Edmond Dantes doesn’t sleep. Or breathe.

In a world of monsters and magic, Edmond Dantes has a pretty good life. He’s just been made captain of a ship, and he’s about to marry his sweetheart.

But when jealousy, spite, and ambition conspire to frame him for treason, he loses everything. To make things right, he’ll need to give up the only thing he has left: his humanity.

They thought their troubles died with Edmond. They were wrong on both counts.

Tags:

[tags]

Follow J Trevor Robinson:

Review: The Mummy of Monte Cristo by J Trevor Robionson

The Mummy of Monte Cristo is a hair-raising adaptation of Alexandre Duma’s classic revenge story in the style of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, packed with loads of undead and horror delicacies to relish!

This review contains spoilers.

The Count of Monte Cristo

The original adventure novel by Alexandre Dumas is ripe for this kind of adaptation. The original story was actually released in parts from 1844 to 1846, which lends the novel an episodic nature of consistent action and tension scaling.

The elements of historic context, particularly the unrest and uncertainty for the average citizen around the Bourbon Restoration and the Hundred Days period when Napoleon returned to power, seep the tale in a beclouded world in which horrible tragedy and gripping vengeance can take place.

Finally, the characters, complex with secrets and inter-relational conflict, make monstrous additions more tenable than, say a public figure such as Abraham Lincoln (Vampire Hunter).

Undead Adaptation

So, then, with such a great starting point, does Robinson pull it off? Yes!

The Mummy of Monte Cristo is packed with tons of undead flavor, from the tweaking of historical events to include a near zombie apocalypse to Edmond Dantès’ mummy transformation. I loved the classic mummy monster mechanics such as the use of his wrappings as weapons!

But Robinson didn’t stop there. Nearly every character brings more horror to the table: vampires, cannibals, a life-sucking amulet, dark rituals, death-curses, and so much more. The result is a setting that feels more like an alternate history, a place where everything is a little bit different, rather than a dark corner of our own world where monsters could exist.

And it is all seamlessly integrated into the original tale! A common critique of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is that the tone is inconsistent; the romance and the zombie action don’t mesh very well. But Robinson pulls it off beautifully in The Mummy of Monte Cristo.

The melodramatic nature of the original lends itself to the adaptation, of course, but the alterations to exposition, dialogue, and action are all so smooth that I could not at first blush identify the point of integration. The presence of monsters or other supernatural elements are a give-away for changes, but Robinson tailored his voice to Dumas’ so that there are no jarring juxtapositions, and I was often in the middle of a scene before I thought, “Well, this wasn’t in the original!”

Humanity

This adaptation is also appropriate for The Count of Monte Cristo thematically. Dantès alienates himself from his humanity while he enacts his revenge, cutting himself off from both society (external) and emotions (internal) and devoting himself to a self-assigned role as an agent of Providence. Thus, “humanity” is an important theme in the original, incorporating ideas of justice, forgiveness, mercy, and hope.

In The Mummy of Monte Cristo, Dantès abandons his humanity literally in order to purse his revenge. However, the thematic thread takes a vastly different path in this adaptation than the original. Whereas the original Dantès regains his humanity through forgiveness, Robinson’s Dantès cannot become human again. He does not forgive Danglars; in fact, Danglars earns the most graphic death in the adaptation.

Neither is the idea of a limit to human vengeance present – an important idea in the original. The quote, “Tell the angel who will watch over your life to pray now and then for a man who, like Satan, believed himself for an instant to be equal to God, but who realized in all humility that supreme power and wisdom are in the hands of God alone,” is not present in any form.

Rather, Dantès is given a new vocation to continue to pursue and defeat “petty and harmful men” and to “make sure there is no possible way for the world to be troubled by the undead again.”

Responsibility

This difference is an important one, but it should not be taken as a commentary on or contradiction of the original theme of vengeance and forgiveness, but rather a completely separate message to a very different audience.

In The Mummy of Monte Cristo, vengeance is part of Dantès’ origin story. Like many superheroes, he awakens to the evil present in the world by first becoming a victim to it and rising to enact vengeance against it. Once that is accomplished, his abilities and awareness make him responsible for pursuing justice beyond revenge.

He himself still needs forgiveness and love, but he does not extend it to evil, nor attempt to rejoin humanity in general. This is a typical motif in modern storytelling (The Myth of the American Superhero) wherein the hero remains apart from society rather that rejoining it (The Hero with a Thousand Faces).

Personally, I found Danglars’ new end thick with Schadenfreude and the idea of additional adventures to come enticing, although it did come at the cost of a moral ideal and stronger theological argument.

Check Out The Mummy of Monte Cristo!

The Mummy of Monte Cristo is a seamless adaptation of a great adventure story into a darker, undead version sure to satisfy your thirst for all things classic horror and bad guys getting what they deserve. If you enjoy Dumas’ original story or the undead genre, this is a must read!

Subscibe for Updates:


Loading

Related Posts: