Reviewed by: Sooz
Approximate word count: 130-135,000 words
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H.W. Taft “lives in Liverpool, England with her husband, three kids and a one-eyed rescue cat.”
Michael Thane is running out of time in Gehenna and he slowly feels humanity slipping away from him. While in Gehenna he has a second chance at redemption, he feels there is no hope for him until he meets Elizabeth. The two of them go on the run and set out to clear Michael’s name in the vicious murders of several women.
What if when you died you didn’t go straight to Hell (if the option wasn’t Heaven just yet)? What if those that died got a second chance in the after life to make things right and get a pass through the pearly, white gates?
The residents of Gehenna (and other parts of purgatory) have that opportunity. It’s not easy because despair, heartache and ruin run rampant in Gehenna, and most wind up as feral vampires as the disease slowly takes over their bodies.
Michael feels the beginning stages of being a vampire after spending centuries in Gehenna. One fateful night, he finds Elizabeth who wakes up in the wrong part of town where feral vampires find new humans tasty morsels. Michael saves her, but sacrifice is not one of his attributes, and it’s something neither one of them forgets.
Michael becomes the only suspect in a string of murders. Against her will, Elizabeth helps him only to learn he didn’t actually do it despite the evidence stacked up.
The concept of Gehenna was interesting. Redemption is still possible, but so is death – a final death. H.W. Taft also did a great job of creating a fearful villain in Michael’s father, Gabriel. His tortures were enough to make the reader feel uncomfortable – but only in a good way.
One issue I had – and it may just be an issue with me – is that too many movies and books have the main characters fall in love very quickly after going through a couple of stressful situations. What ever happened to just being attracted to someone? Does it always have to be about love?
So the love story just felt rushed.
Alas, in Gehenna love, however, is an important element because the path to redemption is paved with it.
While Gehenna was an enjoyable read, it did feel as though it ran a bit too long. Cutting down on some of the scenes and the circular arguments by the main characters throughout the first half of the novel could have made for a tidier read.
There were certain fun elements to the mystery behind the murders that were pinned on Michael such as who is actually pulling the strings, and realizing there is a much bigger world while most of the time it was focused on Gehenna. Taft could certainly have other stories that take place in this world without it getting stale.
No significant issues.
Rating: **** Four Stars