Written by Todd Card
Published by 8 Publishing
Have you ever had a really good idea but just didn’t have the slightest inkling how to execute it and bring it to life?
Author Todd Card has, and the result is Hell Cometh.
Hell Cometh is a zombie novel with some very solid concepts and ideas. There are artifacts in the world that, when touched by man, provide a doorway to Hell. Real, honest, filled-with-demons Hell. Touch them, and you’re a flesh suit for a really nasty demon just looking to rip that door open wide enough to bring big daddy Satan himself into our world and generally giving humanity the ultimate bad day.
After one of these artifacts is uncovered at a mine in Appalachia, that’s precisely what happens. A young boy touches the stone, and suddenly one of Satan’s sons hops in and starts the zombie apocalypse as a one-man infection machine. A rag-tag group of survivors has to take the artifact back where it was found and destroy it to end the plague, or Hell itself is going to show up right here on Earth.
That sounds like a solid concept, right? It is! Unfortunately, Card just doesn’t have the chops to make it happen.
As a writer myself, I hate to say this, but I have to: Card just straight-up needs to take some more writing classes and sharpen his skills because if Hell Cometh is any indication, he does not have the technical ability to be a published author.
We have over 80 pages of introducing characters, down to minute details. Some or even most of these go on to die within the first few chapters of action. There’s no reason for this amount of detail and pages wasted on even the key characters; it’s as if he took his character notes designed to flesh them out and make them more ‘real’ and just published them at the beginning of the book.
He obsessively comes up with new descriptions for characters. Within half a page one character, a handicapped ‘magic retard’ in the tradition of Stephen King, is called ‘the outcast’, ‘the tramp’, ‘the childlike wanderer’, and ‘the angry townie’. Why he didn’t stick to pronouns or the character’s name? No idea.
Dialogue from the backwoods characters is almost always written out to enforce their heavy accents…something that would be assumed. It’s done in such a way that the text is almost unreadable. “You’uns jest git somebody on the horn up yonder, and tell ’em what the hells goin’ on around hyer!” That’s not one particularly bad example; that’s how a great deal of the book is written. I’m not even getting into the mentally handicapped character’s dialogue, which is written out phonetically in his speech impediment. Since he’s a major character, his gibberish is all over the place and will make your brain hurt.
Those are just a couple of major examples of the poor writing that makes up Hell Cometh. But again, I have to emphasize that the plot and ideas behind the book are sound. This is a good book that’s just written very, very badly. It’s the first time I’ve read a book like this, where the fault is in the technical skills of the writer, not in their ability to tell a story well.
I have no idea what’s going on over at 8 Publishing, but they need to hire some editors -quick-. As for Card, if he can learn more about the craft of writing, he should be able to re-work Hell Cometh into something readable and perhaps even create some sequels in the same universe. I’d be interested in reading them. Hell Cometh, as it stands, is an example of how not to write a novel.
1 1/2 out of 5