David Whitehead's 'Hell on Earth': A Review

Pages: 102

Rating: *

Whitehead is a new author that I found by accident. There weren't any reviews for Whitehead, so I decided to take a chance anyway. To be completely honest, it wasn't the title of the book, the description of the story or the author that grabbed my attention. Rather, it was the picture on the cover that drew me in. I remember seeing this pale face with huge blood red eyes that seemed to be staring into my very soul. Immaturely, I thought anything with a picture this sinister has to be good. Well, let's just say that once again I'm reminded that judging a book by it's cover is wrong, no matter how promising they may or may not look.

When an ancient demon escapes its Earthly prison and begins wreaking havoc on the living, a fledgling demon fighter named Archer, is sent to Paris to banish it. Even though this minor demon is to be Archer's 'final exam', senior demon slayer, Palden, watches him from afar as his mentor. Despite the eighteen years of rigorous training, and the endless amount of resources at his disposal, the demon first proves to be too much of an adversary and topples Archer easily. As Archer retreats to rethink his situation, he learns that there is more at stake than he originally thought. Palden relays a story of a long lost sister being held captive by a rebel group of demons. Enraged, Archer vows to do whatever it takes to rescue her. As Archer prepares himself for a rematch with the demon, he knows that more than his life hangs in the balance. Can he overcome the challenge? What fate awaits his sister? Who is Palden, and what does he have to hide?

I'm not going to sugar coat this, 'Hell on Earth' left a lot to be desired. I recognize that, technically, the book is a short story, but that means my expectations are even higher. The book has a ton of holes and gaps in the plot that I could drive a dump truck through. For example, what is some of the backstory with the demon Archer is fighting? I don't feel like I have a reason to really fear this monster despite his gruesome looks. Palden just kind of pops in and out of of the story without any real reason to be there. Yeah, he's supposed to be Archer's guide, but I'm not convinced he really adds anything to the story as a whole. The characters are weak. I didn't care about Archer as a character, I feel nothing for him or his plight. Sure, I know a few background details about him, but otherwise I don't know anything about him. The story telling was OK, and the fight scenes were decent, but the ending left me feeling empty with more questions than answers. After vanquishing his demon, the story ends with Archer vowing to rescue his stolen sister, but what happens to her? Is she alive? Dead? Brainwashed? Does Archer find his birth parents? Can he really trust Palden? Even though the storytelling was par at best, the abrupt ending and unanswered questions only allow me to leave this tragic demon story with a single star.

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