By Garry Charles
Reviewed by Steven Pirie
Virgil Kain is back. Having solved the case of his own murder in Heaven's Falling Volume One - Ascension, Kain, along with his faithful companions Damien the demon and Lucy, aka Lucifer herself, now turns his talents to sorting the general malaise facing the afterlife as a whole.
And that malaise is far from trivial. Existence itself is at stake, and the tale takes Kain on a fascinating journey through the many twists and turns of Garry Charles's afterlife to an eventual confrontation with God himself. On the journey, as we are taken through a number of imaginatively drawn cities and places, we learn the 'true' story of many a biblical character. And so we are shown bit by bit Kain's motivation for actions which will eventually lead to his redemption.
That The Bible is rewritten along the way is of no concern. That the very cornerstones of Christianity are rocked matters little. This is not a tale for the Pope's bedside cabinet. Charles will receive no congratulatory note from the Bishop of York. Which, of course, is as it should be. This is Charles cocking his snook at organised religion, and quite a considerable, err, snook it is, too.
There's plenty to admire in Charles's writing. He writes with such enthusiasm that it's hard not to be dragged along with him. Never one to back down from a violent act, Redemption has its share of spouting blood and splitting bone. Curiously though, the first volume seemed to contain more violent scenes than this sequel. Whether that was a conscious decision by Charles or simply a consequence of the unfolding story I don't know. In some ways, it means of the two Redemption feels like the 'fuller' novel. Taken together, it means both books complement each other nicely.
My only criticism is that the proofreading is a little wayward in places leading to needless grammatical errors, mostly to do with dialogue. I do know this criticism has been levied elsewhere, and Charles has claimed the 'errors' to be stylistic. Probably the jury is hung on that debate. However, I should point out that the story is strong enough to overcome any initial pedantry you might feel, and stylistic or not these 'lapses' soon go unnoticed as the reader is immersed in the tale.
I should perhaps also mention the artwork by Paul Cox. The cover art is striking, and the brief scattering of black-and-white internal illustrations superbly detailed. It really is a nice volume to hold and look at. It's thick, and gives that 'value for money' feel.
A brief 'story so far' section at the start of Redemption makes it possible to read this episode without visiting volume one first. However, I feel to get the best out of Redemption it is worthwhile reading Ascension, just to give grounding to some of the nuances alluded to from the first book, just to keep things in perspective. Given that Hadesgate currently have a Christmas offer of free postage and packing, there's good value in securing both books now and having almost a thousand pages of horror to see you well into the New Year.
If you like fast-paced, uncompromising horror then I doubt you'll be disappointed.
Heaven's Falling--Redemption by Garry Charles. Tpb, 495pp, £15.99. Published by Hadesgate Publications.
Website: - www.hadesgate.co.uk
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