Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Written by Edward Lee
Published by Leisure Books
Hell ain’t a bad place to be, or so goes the saying. If you’re inside the twisted mind that resides within Ed Lee’s skull, though, there ain’t many other places much worse.
Lee’s third story set in the Mephastopolis, more commonly known as hell, doesn’t do much with the premise setup in City Infernal or Infernal Angel, which is too bad but then I didn’t expect much else.
A brief history; Lee’s concept is that hell is now an advanced, massive endless city, which has evolved over the years the same way our planet has. Makes sense, right? Now hell has rules like anywhere else, mainly that everything that makes sense here doesn’t apply there, and that which we find horrible and repulsive is the rule of the day in the Mephastopolis. So nasty stuff happens all the time, and that’s what you get for being bad.
Our story follows a newcomer to hell, a prostitute who is immediately recruited by a priest, also in hell, to assist him in a plan to do… something. He’s very vague about what they’re trying to accomplish, only that is has something to do with a girl on Earth who is spending her summer helping renovate a prior house.
Of course, the girl in question is on her way to being a nun but is still incredibly hot; as is the soon-to-be priest she is spending the summer with in the aforementioned house. While it never leads to either of them doing anything un-priest or nunly, it does give Lee a good reason to endlessly describe their sexual tension and how attracted they both are to one another. What can you say, the man likes his sex and violence.
Anyway, along with the desire to get laid despite it’s inherit evilness, the girl in the prior house is experiencing strange messages being sent to her (by, we discover later on, the priest and the girl in hell) when she is on the verge of sleep. She soon realizes that the priest who built he prior house was actually an anti-priest in secret and did it all to serve some long-term goals of a defrocked pope, now in hell, who’s trying to facilitate the birth of the antichrist.
To be honest it’s all a bit of a mess and Lee takes way too long to lay it out for the reader. It would’ve helped the pacing if he gotten it out of the way earlier, but he has a really nasty writing habit of having his characters explain things to either themselves or other characters over and over and over again. It’s one of the foibles of Lee’s writing that’s always kept it from being a truly great horror author in my mind to just “eh”. House Infernal is no exception.
Though the story doesn’t go where I had thought it would, the end is still what some would call predictable. There are some highlights throughout, though; most of them involving one strange thing or another going down in the city that hell has become. Lee does have a way of coming up with creative ways for people to spend eternity suffering. I’ll give him that. Usually those things involve some kind of secretion from the body, if you get me.
House Infernal is about par for the course both with Lee’s body of work and this series in specific. Of course the door is left open for a sequel so don’t be surprised if he makes a trip back to the Mephastopolis soon. I just hope he stops feeling the need to over-explain every single concept to his readers and let them pick up what he’s putting down on their own. That’s what makes a truly great writer.
3 out of 5
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