Recommendation: Yes, but it is not for the faint of heart. Those looking for a dark, unique read won’t be disappointed. Those easily offended shouldn’t take this one on.
Summary: An unsettling, thought provoking, fear inducing take on hell that will make you want to say your prayers at night. +unique +complex + developed characters
In life, we are plagued by the uncertainty of an afterlife, and it is often expected that when we die, everything will suddenly make sense. But when a group of strangers, similar only in their time of death, find themselves in the afterlife, they are faced with more questions than ever before. Are they in Heaven or Hell? If they’re in Heaven, why is there a Nazi wandering around? Why are there no children? If they are in Hell, what universal law did they break? Is there a way to repent and move on to a better eternity? At least one man seems to have some answers. Marcus, a Roman dead for 2,000 years, gains the group’s trust by leading them through the perils of their new reality. But soon it becomes clear that Marcus is only telling them half the story.
Writing a review for this book that really expresses my thoughts and feelings has proven to be difficult. The way that this book is written and the subject matter leave you an almost unsettled feeling in your gut during the time you immerse yourself in this world. This book is unlike anything I have ever read before. I found myself having a difficult time even deciding what tags to use to help readers navigate easier to locate this book if they have a particular genre they prefer. Unique in his writing style, L.A. Barnes challenges your previous ideas about death and presents an original version of the afterlife that forces you to leave your comfort zone and journey with your characters.
You meet all the players initially and the author spends several of the first few chapters introducing us to them from who they were before death, letting us see how they died and how they felt right up to that point and then experience the controversial place down below with them for the first time. Be prepared for the people you read about to be highly offensive in some cases. Some of the character choices that the author selected are uncomfortable and deliberately have a cringe factor. Hell and the so called “Pit” that we see is beyond what you are taught in church or through conversation. This place is a battleground. Literally. The entry way to where these characters end up after they die is not fire, brimstone and demons like one would think. It is full of gateways, almost like a train station where people arrive after death. Some fall out of nowhere and topple those below them. Another thing I found interesting about this book is that you are trying to figure out what is going on along with those in the story so you really do find out when they do. Many books are written in this style but not many pull it off so well. The only person who knows everything ( or thinks he does) and is pulling the strings, Marcus, gives you a little insight into the INTENSE manipulation going on but leaves enough open to where you remain confused with everyone else until you are given tid bit by tid bit and begin to follow the bread crumbs.
The imagery in this book depicts a place with no hope and the unsettling description for your post-worldly body puts you in a place of mild despair for people experiencing it. The constant questioning by all those Newly Dead about why they were there and what in the world could have doomed them to hell is frustrating because the cleverly placed lies and implanted people in the groups that alter their reasoning hinders them even further from the truth. The amount of deceit running around was well.. hellish.
This is definitely dark but it is very creative and in my opinion original. Reading it however may make you re-examine your own life in hopes that if this place really exists… you don’t end up there.
Disclaimer: I was given an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much L.A. Barnes for the experience!