Monday, February 13, 2012

City of Hell Chronicles - Vol 1: A review

There is no god, no saviour.
Mankind is without salvation and on the cusp of total annihilation.
During an eruption at Yellowstone, the Great Maurr, an ancient god, rose from the bowels of the earth and brought a bug apocalypse with him.
Swarms of giant ants, centipedes and diabolical hybrids swept the planet consuming the animal kingdom and destroying human civilisation in a matter of weeks. Nothing could stop their relentless genocide.
Just a few cities remain; a handful of human survivors in London, Moscow and Hong Kong scuttle about in the darkness forever fearful of being caught, eaten by the solider ants, or worse: made to breed in the City of Hell to produce hideous hybrid creatures.
Can these last remaining humans find a way of surviving and ultimately fight back in this nightmarish dystopia?
For the complete synopsis and purchasing info, click here


This anthology is made up of 8 short stories by 8 incredible authors, all of the stories following the plot above – of the Great Maurr the insect God, here to reign terror down upon the world.

Did I enjoy this collection of gruesome, warped, horrifying stories? NO. And I’ll tell you why:

1)  I hate horror. The last horror movie I saw was in 2000, and it’s only now I realise that was 12 years ago. TWELVE YEARS. That’s a really long time to avoid a genre, and yet even twelve years later I can’t shower at night without being afraid some little freaking girl ghost is going to be standing there to terrify me when I get out. I also can’t sleep with my back to the door.

2) My apartment is infested with carpet beetles. That’s right. I have bugs. In my home. All. The. Time. As well as some kind of grey bugs that the people in the office weren’t able to identify. In my old house, we had centipedes, which I affectionately termed “Skitterbugs” as I stood on the chair in my office poking at a pile of clothes with a stick waiting for it to run back out because there was no way in hell I was going to stand on the floor and move things around to find it. The only good these things did was help me get over my arachnophobia. The only thing worse than a creature with eight legs is one with a hundred.

So, combine these two little tidbits together and you may wonder what the hell I was thinking, then, picking up a horror anthology about giant, six-foot long centipedes and ant-human hybrids? That is a very valid question.

I was showing my support for the editor and all of the authors who took the time and effort to put these stories together. For them, I spent hours reading through the cracks in my fingers, on the verge of vomiting, fighting off the growing hysteria that my carpet beetles were hiding in kitchen cupboards growing at an alarming rate and would come into my room one night and bite off my head.

So for that I say: Well done. Despite it being crafted out of everything I can’t stand, I was compelled to read through all of it. Each story was engaging, and each one sucked you in until you were begging for the last sentence to be done and the dark hopelessness to be over…only for the cycle to start over again with the next story. 

Colin F. Barnes' intro story Genesis was a great kick-off - a perfect combination of eerie and maniacal, with a neat twist of mystery thrown in. And it all went downhill from there. Each author brought a different perspective to one unified event, all of them with characters you were rooting for, in situations you were oh-so-glad you didn’t have to cope with. It’s a perfect example of the sadism writers have towards their characters – and apparently their readers.

So here I am, a non-fan of the genre and of bugs, saying that although reading this was not a relaxing, pleasant experience, I loved everything that made it what it is, and all of the authors should be proud. My recommendations: 1) read this book; 2) do not eat or drink anything at least one hour before opening the front cover.

CoH Volume 2 will be out this year. All I can say to that is: Yes – I will read it. And Yes – I will keep several canisters of RAID next to me for the rest of my life.  

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