Daniel I. Russell is the author of Entertaining Demons, Samhane, Retard, Come Into Darkness, Critique, The Collector Book 1: Mana Leak, Mother's Boys and the huge collection Tricks, Mischief and Mayhem. Daniel is a HWA active member and represented by the Tobias Literary Agency, NYC. Daniel has also been the vice-president of the Australian Horror Writers' Association, special guest editor of Midnight Echo, associate and technical editor for Necrotic Tissue, and Shadow Awards judge.
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Thursday, February 14, 2013Review of...INFERNUS
With any item I write, be it fiction in novels and short stories, or nonfiction, which is mainly reviews like this, I have a pretty plan in mind with where I want to go. You know, introduction, plot summary, my thoughts and then a final verdict. This one is…different. This is going to be one of the hardest reviews I’ve written.
Why? Because INFERNUS by Mike Jones is a very different book indeed.
Hell is a popular subject among writers be it a touch of classical with Dante, pleasure and pain indivisible with Barker, or something akin to a demonic Dali painting, like the recently read Through the Inbetween Hell Awaits by Robert Essig. Out of all the visions of Hell, the one that stuck with me the most was from one of the stories in the anthology Hellbound Hearts: Orfeo the Damned by Nancy Holder. In it, the unfortunate protagonist opens the puzzle box and is taken to Hell, but what made this stand out was how the author captured the sheer scale of the torment. Here, the victim was not only being tortured, but was being tortured in an infinite number of ways all in the same instance. There is no hope, nor reprieve. Just an uncountable number of atrocities, forever.
Jones hits this on the head with INFERNUS, wherein each torment (and my oh my is there a lot of torment depicted in this book!) goes on for millennia, yet all INFERNUS unfurls in a single moment.
It’s very hard to describe the plot of INFERNUS, as to be honest, it doesn’t sound like much. The nude subject of an arts class regales the story of INFERNUS to the students. A story within a story, we follow a new occupant of Hell who is to be trained by his maybe father, a red demon.
See I look at what I’ve just written…and no. It’s not right. It is right, but it’s not…
INFERNUS is a very strange book, and as the writer himself mentions in his afterword, things are linked in circles. Things come full circle. Circles fold in. Things go backwards, forwards and whothefuckknowswards. Some may simply see the book as a repetitive list of homo-erogenous acts of violence, but it’s much much more than that….but it isn’t…but then it is. It’s everything and nothing.
I know that you’re probably sat reading this and wondering just what the Hell (pun intended?) I’m banging on about, but how can you review a novella that equates to the rantings of a mad man?
This is how INFERNUS comes across, and the author is unashamed by this approach. It’s even part of the book’s charm.
If you want a more traditional story with a start, middle and end, a relatable protagonist with a love interest and an action packed finale, you won’t find that here. This is obscene, bizarre and the insanity of its composition shouldn’t work, but it does, in this reviewer’s opinion anyway.
I wish I could find more works like this, not just books that are outside the box, but books that are like this:
If you want something radically different, and can stomach all the gore, buggery and all the juices that come with them, grab yourself a copy.