Hell is Coming

Hell is Coming

And now for something completely different.

Hell is Coming was written by N.P. Martin and first published in 2014. It’s an urban fantasy novel about a teenage girl who discovers that her parents were demon hunters. The story forms the first part of The Watchers series and is followed by Hell is Here (2015) and Hell and Back (2015). There are also two companion novellas – Bad Grace (2015) and Lucas (2015) – which expand on the backstories of the secondary characters.

Eighteen year old Leia Swanson has been in and out of foster care since the death of her parents. While most people believe that her mother was responsible for the gruesome deaths, only Leia knows the truth. She saw a pair of demons slaughter her father and drag her mother to Hell. Although she knows that no one believes her, she studies the occult in her free time to make sense of the demonic visions that still torment her.

As Leia begins to research her parents, her past suddenly catches up with her. Her foster mother is brutally slain and her brother Josh is kidnapped by a powerful demon. With no one left to turn to, Leia is forced to seek out Frank – the uncle that she never she knew she had. It is from him that she learns the truth. She is one of the Nephilim – a half-angel – and it is her duty to fight the forces of darkness.

As Leia trains with Frank, she learns that her brother wasn’t the only one taken. The demon has been targeting Nephilim children all over the world. Leia knows that it can’t be a coincidence – the monster must have plans for them. However, as she investigates further, she discovers that the demon responsible is one of the most feared of them all. Without the right weapon, she has no hope of defeating him. Trouble is that obtaining such a blade might cost more than she’s willing to pay…

I admit that I ummed and ahed about posting this review. This blog is all about books for young adult readers and Hell is Coming honestly doesn’t fall into that category. However, I did receive it in a bundle of supposedly young adult novels and so I figured it best to put up this post as a word of warning to anyone who may have been deceived as I was.

Hell is Coming is definitely not suitable for younger readers. I personally would call it a new adult novel and would advise caution in giving it to anyone under the age of eighteen. Although its style of writing is deceptively simplistic, it contains gore, drug use and swearing throughout. While I tried to justify this at first as being suitable for upper YA, this was all thrown out of the window when I reached the sex scene.

Yeah. Before I look at the novel itself, let’s talk about the sex scene. My problem with this is two-fold. Firstly, if this novel is intended to be for upper YA, it’s just not appropriate. While you can have sex scenes in teen novels, they shouldn’t be anywhere near as prolonged and graphic as the one in this book. Yet let’s assume for a second that the author did intend this novel to be for NA readers. If that’s the case, the sequence is still unsettling.

For starters, it comes out of nowhere. Lucas as a character is only really introduced to sleep with Leia. He has no significant development before this and is barely mentioned after. The sequence is also detailed to the degree that it left nothing to the imagination. Seriously, it was so brutally explicit that it lost any kind of allure it may have otherwise held. It wasn’t sexy and didn’t show off either character in a particularly positive light. The only thing I can say about it is at least it only took up one chapter. Now I’ve gotten the warning off my chest (so I can finally expunge it from my memory), let’s look at the rest of the novel.

I admit that I was first attracted to this novel by the premise. I do have a fondness for urban fantasies (especially stories about demons) and the story did deliver exactly what it said on the sleeve. While the narrative was over expository and sometimes poorly formatted, it was still very readable. Despite the novel’s length, the story was quick to find its feet and maintained a rapid pace that insured that I never lost interest. In fact, I did rather enjoy the opening of the story. It built up an intriguing mystery that left me curious to discover more about Leia’s parents. Unfortunately, the solution wasn’t all that satisfying.

Basically, the story is Supernatural. There’s really no other way to put it. It’s very clear that Martin is a huge fan of the series as this novel just read like fan-fiction, replacing Dean with Leia, Sam with Josh and Bobby with Frank. There is no way to hide the many similarities between the two. Black-eyed demons escape their hosts in clouds of smoke, drinking demon blood gives people supernatural abilities and crossroad demons trade in souls. Even the bare plot of the novel – a story about a powerful demon kidnapping children with powers and breaking the seals of Hell – was lifted directly from the show.

Perhaps this would appeal to some big fans of Supernatural but personally, it just didn’t work for me. There wasn’t really anything in this novel that felt truly original – virtually everything was lifted from other sources. While I know that this doesn’t bother some readers (more power to you), I unfortunately found it too distracting. I didn’t really enjoy the story for its own merit because I was always subconsciously comparing it to Supernatural.

I also felt that the climax of the novel was incredibly weak. It’s a personal gripe and I don’t want to give much away in case you do plan on reading it but it really didn’t work for me. It piled up far too many deus ex machinas, seemingly giving Leia new power after new power to help save the day. It just made things far too easy. Leia never really seemed to have to work for anything. After less than a week of training, she proved able to fight off monsters that no other Watcher could ever hope to defeat. Her powers were just overwhelming, elevating her closer to Mary Sue status with every page, and in the end they weren’t ultimately unexplained. I  hope that Hell is Here takes the time to divulge how Leia could do half the things she did because I was left horribly confused.

The characters were also rather frustrating. I found that I just couldn’t connect with Leia, which was a problem as she provided the narrative voice. Although she was supposed to be eighteen, she came across as being far younger than this. Whenever anything didn’t go her way, she would throw a violent temper tantrum and/or storm off. Even though she was untrained and knew that there were demons hunting her. Really smart there, heroine. I also could never really buy the fact that both Frank and Eva seemed to follow her every order. They were both Watchers with decades of experience, why would they follow someone who’d only know about their war for a matter of days?

Beyond Leia, no other character really got any development. We discover a couple of things about Frank but none of them gave him any depth or seemed to change his attitude towards Leia. Beyond this, every other character was paper thin. Some existed as demon fodder, some barely appeared in the story (like Josh). Others, like Lucas, existed to serve a single purpose before fading into obscurity. It sounds harsh but I think I’m only likely to remember the characters as shades of the Supernatural cast, rather than for anything unique that they brought to the table.

So, on the whole I think you can probably tell that Hell is Coming just wasn’t one for me. Perhaps it would appeal to someone who’s a huge Supernatural fan and is able to overlook the similarities in the plot. As it stands, the eBook is currently free on Amazon and so if you’re at all curious I’d advise checking it out.

Hell is Coming can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook from Amazon.co.uk

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Nevernight | Arkham Reviews

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© Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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