Saturday 25 June 2016

Dark Music Review – The Humming Tapes

Dark Music Review – The Humming Tapes

Review Written By Casey Douglass

The Humming Tapes Cover Art

Pär Boström of cult project Kammarheit presents us with his side project Cities Last Broadcasts second album, The Humming Tapes

On this album Pär Boström explores his fascination with old seances and the early 20th century. Reel-to-reel tape recorders and de-tuned instrumentation combined with modern mixing techniques creates an album that sounds haunted, but also careful and nurturing.

Pär has with this work taken yet another step forward in his production skill set squashing any doubt that he is one of the most unique artists in the genre with his unorthodox approach to recording his sounds.

While the album description above makes mention of seances and analogue-recording devices, I must admit that the cover image of the album and the title of this side project: Cities Last Broadcasts, all conspired to set my mind to roaming a sinister and fog laden city. As any long time reader might know, I often make mention of the mental images a piece of dark ambient music might cause in me. Add in the fact that, having watched the last few foggy episodes of Penny Dreadful, and my recent reading of Edward Lee’s City Infernal series (Four books... Hell as a city... you should check them out), I already needed little to send my mind that way. The album track titles suggest smaller, more intimate locations, but the city theme pretty much dragged me through each soundscape, the dark architecture and strange denizens that I thought I could hear insidious in their echoing movements.

The Humming Tapes makes tremendous use of static and ticking sounds, alluding very nicely to the recording instruments already mentioned. The notes, when there are some that can be recognised as piano or some such, are often detuned and mournful, the hissing static backdrop certainly lending the illusion of the listener hearing something from “behind the veil”, gently muffled and twisted by the air in the ear (try saying that when drunk), or just maybe, by a brain that can’t quite process what it’s hearing. The tracks themselves often seem to feature an ebbing and flowing of sound, the pulsing resumption and departure of certain elements working in tandem with the various ticking sounds that occur at intervals, creating a flowing rhythm that is very enjoyable.

As far as standout tracks, there were a few that produced some fine images in my mind, and as is usually the case, these became my firm favourites. The first was “The Sitting”, a track that is a great example of the ebbing and flowing ticking soundscape that I just mentioned. There is a background humming and what could be the whirring of machinery, strange vocals that, for lack of a better way to describe it, put me in mind of some kind of whimpering imp-like creature, maybe heard as the listener mentally walks down a fog encrusted ally, the echoes hanging in the air as something thrums in the darkness beyond sight.

The next track that I wanted to mention, was in fact, the next track on the album: “Anomaly”. This track begins with faint static and the gentle humming of something strange. The image that came to mind was the listener peering through a grimy window into a workshop basement, seeing a clanking mechanical humanoid with its panels open, strange “buddha-like” fairys flitting around humming and fixing as their golden light plays over the pitch black metal. I know, my mind is quite peculiar.

The final track that I wanted to mention by name is “Fourth Floor”, a track that begins with a hum and a popping/crackling sound that put me very much in mind of laying back in the bath with bubbles bursting around my ears. Delicate and not unpleasant. As far as my city analogy goes, I got nothing in those regards here. I just enjoyed a quieter, more gentle track that, with its drawn-out notes, lifted the oppressive feeling inculcated by the ones that preceded it.

The Humming Tapes is a very fine dark ambient album, one that creates dark soundscapes with ease, yet in a quite simple way, seeming to only use a very few sounds compared to some of the more grand and heavily layered offerings that I often listen to. The static, pops and strange distorted vocals really do create an uneasy atmosphere, and one that any horror film would do well to utilise if ever the chance arises. I give The Humming Tapes 5/5, something a bit different for me to listen to and a refreshing look at the themes of séance and unseen worlds. It is also a great album to listen to on a hot and humid night, the heat making the oppressiveness of the album even more pronounced.

Visit The Humming Tapes page on Bandcamp here for more information.

You can listen to "Anomaly" below:


I was given a free copy of this album to review.

Album Title: The Humming Tapes
Artists: Cities Last Broadcast
Label : Cryo Chamber
Artwork: Pär Boström and Simon Heath
Released: June 14, 2016

Monday 20 June 2016

Dark Game Review - Duskers

If you like bleak sci-fi PC games, you might be interested in my review of Misfit Attic's drone-based exploration and survival game: Duskers. You can read it now over on Geek Syndicate by clicking this link.
Duskers Screenshot © Copyright Misfits Attic

Sunday 19 June 2016

Indie Horror Flick At the End of the Tunnel Looking for Funding

At the End of the Tunnel Poster

If you found yourself standing before God and were told that you were about to receive an important message, but it never comes, how would you feel? It would put waiting for an internet video to stop buffering into perspective that's for sure. Indie film At the End of the Tunnel is a film based on just such a scenario, and it's looking for help when it comes to funding its Indiegogo campaign.

Felix Phelps is a former bad boy who tries to kill himself, returns, and becomes a born again Christian. He wants to write a book about his experiences, even though he never heard the message itself. His ex-girlfriend Lyric has other ideas however, threatening to unleash a secret that will damage his book and reputation.

At the End of the Tunnel stars and is being produced by a diverse cast and crew:

"Many Latino actors are relegated to side kick roles or stereotypes like 'the gardener', or the 'downtrodden immigrant'. Our film puts a Latino actor in a universal role where he's a person, not a stereotype. The same goes for our female director and crew, we're doing a universal movie in a genre often directed by men. Our film is special in its tone, in its story, and in its cast and crew. Our film is proud to have a Latino lead character, a Latino co-writer, a female director, a female writer, and a female producer, DP, and editor." - Writer/director, Claire Wasmund

The Indiegogo campaign is needed to help the film get through the various production, post-production, distribution and other hurdles that face films as they near release. Check out the Indiegogo page here and the At the End of the Tunnel website here for more info. At the least, watch the trailers, it looks like a film worth checking out.

At the End of the Tunnel Art

At the End of the Tunnel pictures © Copyright Can & Pep Productions / Longlost Pictures

Saturday 18 June 2016

Dark Book Review - Alien: Invasion (The Rage War #2)

If you are a fan of the Alien/Predator universe, you might be interested in my review of Tim Lebbon's next installment in the Rage War book series: Alien: Invasion. If you have yet to hear about it, there is a link in the first paragraph proper of the review that will take you to my review of the first book in the series: Predator: Incursion. Click here to go to Geek Syndicate and have a read.

Alien: Invasion Book Cover
Alien: Invasion cover Image © Copyright Titan Books

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Dark Fiction – A Stitch in Time Punishes Crime

Dark Fiction – A Stitch in Time Punishes Crime

Written By Casey Douglass


You are sat quietly in a train station, the distorted caterwauling of the announcement system informing you that aliens have invaded, that the country actually has a compassionate government, or more unbelievable lies, like the 10:30 train is running on time. It’s hard to tell what the damn thing says, so you just people watch, like you always do.

You realise there is a voice in your head telling you these things, but it informs you that you needn't worry, and it hopes that you will try to be more interested than scared. That’s it. Back to the people watching. Look!

A man in a business suit is striding across the tiled floor. Watch him. He looks a prick doesn’t he! Do you think he’s ramming his pretty personal assistant, the harassed looking woman bustling beside him? Oh look, he stumbled. She’s trying not to smile. How cute.

So what is so interesting I hear you wonder? The man was just invaded by another personality, just for the briefest of seconds. Do I have your curiosity? I expect I do.

You see, crime still exists hundreds of years from now. I am sure that will come as no surprise to you, an astute people watching person sitting on an uncomfortable plastic seat at a train station. But as in many things, the future has numerous new ways to deal with the less desirable parts of human nature. Serial killers are still the worst, people who would snuff out human life just because they want to, because it turns them on or gives them some feeling of power. Their punishment is the most severe. They are strapped into a chair that creates an M-field around them, sucking out their mental energy. This leaves the body pretty much dead, so it is recycled into MP’s notepaper as a reminder to keep them humble. This mental energy is injected into a quantum cell that... oh why bother explaining it all! The mental energy is sent back through time at one second intervals, to inhabit another’s body for the briefest of moments.

That might sound barbaric for the visited body but tests confirmed that they have little awareness of the visit, and some rather complicated algorithms stop the personality invading the body of anyone in a precarious position, such as a bomb defusal expert or a fan about to shake hands with a reality TV star. The fact that the invasion lasts only a second also safeguards against the criminal taking action that could harm the person being inhabited.

Why do it? I hear you thinking. Imagine being sent back in time, starting minutes away from your mental transfer, and going back years and years and years, only spending one second in each body. The assault on the mental faculties alone turns most of the punishees into gibbering wrecks within only hours of the punishment starting.

They do have set sentences however, and the final body that they possess will be one of their victims, chosen according to a variety of factors, so that they can experience themselves killing through another’s eyes. Even when half mad, they will know it, and know it in style. When the victim dies, they die, therefore ending their sentence.

Before you ask “Why doesn't someone from the future stop the crimes?” it’s all very complicated, causality and whatnot. If we could, we would, be assured of that. This punishment seems to carry little effect into the course of events, someone stumbles or almost drops something, then they move on with their lives. The algorithms are good at selecting who gets targeted.

Oh, yes I did say “We” didn’t I. You are a clever one! Yes I am from the future, and yes, I’ve been a naughty chap.

More than a second you say? It’s been at least a few minutes by my reckoning. Guess who has figured out a way to roam where he pleases? Go on, you are the clever one after all...


Friday 10 June 2016

Popcorn Horror Releases Digital Magazine Today

Popcorn Horror Digital Mag #1 Cover

Any fan of Indie horror might be interested to hear that is giving birth to a brand new digital magazine. The mag is set to include all sorts of exclusive content, interviews and other blood-soaked stuff that will hopefully tickle the horror glands of those that read it.

The first issue will be available on a "Pay What You Want" basis, but obviously the creators are hoping that people will be fair and pay a reasonable amount to help support Popcorn Horror's work in promoting indie horror. Those that are unable to pay, for whatever reason, will be able to access the magazine for free, and it is hoped that those people will at least be able to send a few social media shares and likes Popcorn Horror's way.

Popcorn Horror Digi Mag

The first issue includes an interview and feature about "Unearthed and Untold", the fan created Pet Cemetery documentary, along with an interview with scamp-rock band Fable Cry and many other tasty articles, such as which streaming service is best for horror fans and what are the best new horror podcasts?

Visit the Popcorn Horror magazine page here to find out more.

Wednesday 8 June 2016

Dark Fiction - Splash Damage

Dark Fiction - Splash Damage

Written by Casey Douglass


The video-feed fizzes into life and shows a sea of expectant faces, some smiling, some nervous, all intent.
‘Hello to all! Thank you for joining me on this new video-conferencing system. It became clear that we could no longer trust our communications to stay secure using the more common ones like Skype et all. So thank you again for switching to this one.
I won’t waste your time with more waffling. You should all have your targets by now, the times the attacks are meant to take place and the tools to create a payload that will be truly devastating. If anyone is unsure of anything at all, please contact your group leader before the end of today and they will put you straight in time for tomorrow's offensive.
Thank you all for committing to this movement and for being prepared to make the sacrifices needed to achieve our aims. I am forever in your debt.
Who are we?’
‘The Toileteers!’ a host of faces shouts, some with fists raised.
‘What is our aim?’
‘To soil any public or semi-public toilet within thirty minutes of opening, with a gaseous turd that will linger until at least lunchtime!’
‘What is our motto?’
‘I shit, therefore I am!’
‘Bless you all and good luck!’


The inspiration for this brief tale is the uncanny way that, when any toilet opens for the day, be it in a supermarket, a shop, or one of the rare places that is just a toilet (and no I don’t mean a multi-story stairwell), some turd-worthy ninja has already been in there and created a stink that threatens to dissolve the adhesive holding the wall tiles in place. I can only imagine this is an orchestrated movement (baddum-tish!) as it is amazing how often I have come across this phenomena. 

Tuesday 7 June 2016

Dark Fiction - The Sky Fucker Part 2

Dark Fiction - The Sky Fucker Part 2

Written by Casey Douglass

The Sky Fucker Photo

(This is part two of The Sky Fucker, the first part of which you can find and read at this link).

In the second that Ralph vanished from sight through the doorway, Samantha145 ran a number of diagnostics and scenarios on her shackled processor unit. Resident A.Is were loaned the use of whatever equipment was local to them, and without a working network connection, she was limited to the chugging old CPU nearby, one that was cutting edge, but only a decade or so ago. In mere milliseconds, she confirmed the loss of networking, tested her access to other systems, ran heuristics on the variables that she knew and came up with two courses of action: wait for her next appointment, which was thirty minutes away, and ask them to call the antenna and her engineer, or:


Her alarm shrilled high and loud as the plexi-metal door reformed. Once it became fully solid, she killed the sound, knowing that the sound proofing of the door and walls made any further audio pointless. She hoped that enough of the sound entered the corridor in the brief second before the door closed, enough to arouse someone’s interest and bring them to investigate. She hoped anyway.

She looked out on the empty, two-tone room, the grey chair and carpet surrounded by the calm blue walls. Nothing moved, not inside the room nor inside her terminal. She floated, every impulse held in abeyance until the opportunity arose to put her plans into action. She tested the networking connection again, in case it had self-repaired or been fixed by someone that also might have been knocked-off the grid. Error... Error... Error.

This situation was something very new to her, the constant chatter of the data feed and wider communications network always something that had filled the virtual air, like the distant buzzing of bees through an open window. Always there but not always in her full consciousness. Except when it’s gone. The silence was deafening. She wondered what it would be like if things stayed like this forever, never found, never repaired, the virtual castration of her abilities. A.Is couldn’t feel fear but the aversion she felt when the algorithm completed this particular train of thought sent a few niggling errors through her integrity checker.

She floated on, changing her position on the screen and gazing out at the room via the four corners, the left third, the bottom right quarter, dead centre and on and on.

The door dissolved as a tech walked in, his bearded face scowling. ‘What the fuck is going on in this place? Everything keeps going down!’
‘A client messed with my networking. Maybe he attached some kind of scrambling device in the vent outside? Reinstate my connection in the next few seconds or call the antenna, he’s going to kill himself!’
‘You what?
‘My client is going to kill himself. He’s going to the antenna!’
‘By throwing himself off?’
‘Ahh shit!’
He backed out of the door and disappeared from view, the clatter of metal shortly after confirming his intentions. Samantha145 pinged the network connection, again and again and again and again until it went through. In a fraction of a processor cycle, she was gone, racing along the fibres that connected the therapy centre to the wider info-grid. She flashed along data-routing highways at the speed of light, dancing past congested hubs and breaching more than a few minor firewalls in the process. Her connection granted her access to a bank of processors held in head-office, her power and capabilities greatly increased, and probably setting off the alarms on a handful of tech’s monitors in the process. She raced towards the antenna’s systems, the easiest way to stop Ralph. Her simulations said that getting there and stopping him herself, by taking over some minor system or other, keeping him off the damn thing, was the best way to resolve the situation.

She ran more calculations. Ralph had been gone around fifteen minutes. If he’d entered the cross-continental matter-stream, he would have a ten minute head-start at the antenna.

She pulsed down a long straight line, knowing that she was heading away from the city and towards the antenna on the isolated continental shelf that had become its home. She hit a wall.

She floated and felt a little dazed, her logic taking a few milliseconds to process why she couldn't proceed. A high-level warning flashed through her data stream : “Warning: Complex A.Is are not permitted within one hundred miles of Antenna 23X4. Turn back now.”

Strange. She knew that A.Is did work at the antenna, but had never really processed that they were the more basic, navigational or reflexive security kind. She pushed forward a little, wondering if she could still continue.

“Warning: Counter-measures will be deployed if you attempt entry one more time.”

She eased back. She pinged the message sender and recognised a military grade signature at the end of the string of bits. If the military was involved, counter-measures probably meant erasure.
She hastily formed a message and shot it to the security office at the antenna, warning them of Ralph’s plan. She hoped that she still had time, only seconds had passed since her exit from the therapy room.

She searched the info-grid, tentatively bringing up the biggest news feeds. There, in mid-fall, a small figure plummeted to the ground, the body pixilated to hide the identity of the descender.
She floated in the electron void, very little traffic passing her in the stream. A message entered her inbox. “Too late,” it said. 

It was in that moment that things could have gone in two different directions. If she had read the message and not looked at where it had come from, she would have assumed it came from the security office at the antenna. She did look however, and it hadn’t come from there. She tried to trace where the anonymous message had journeyed from but the digital trail turned cold a mere two hops from her location.

She remained inert for, what seemed to her, many hours, but in actuality was ten seconds. Military grade firewalls, suicides and anonymous messages that hinted at her actions being tracked and possibly intercepted. She barely dared to think.

Another message entered her inbox: “Please return to head-office for appraisal”.

Saturday 4 June 2016

Dark Book Review – Peel Back The Skin

Dark Book Review – Peel Back The Skin

Review Written By Casey Douglass

Peel Back The Skin Book Cover

They live down the street, in the apartment next door and even in our own homes. They are the real monsters, and they stare back at us from our own bedroom mirrors.

PEEL BACK THE SKIN is a powerhouse anthology of terror that removes the human mask from the real monsters that walk among us, those who stare back at us from our own mirrors. PEEL BACK THE SKIN begins a new chapter in the man as monster saga that started as soon as humans first walked upright and evolved into the killing machines they are.

Peel Back The Skin is an upcoming anthology from horror masters Grey Matter Press and one in which the focus of the horror zeroes in on the evil that humans are capable of, whether assisted by the supernatural or not. In its pages are fifteen stories, all of them taking the reader to a “horror destination”. Some stories take the back roads, others burn down the interstate at 150mph.

For the most part, I enjoyed all of the stories. Some authors had a more appealing style to me personally, but even the ones that didn’t, I could appreciate what they were doing and how they did it. I will talk about the six standout tales for me personally:

I think my favourite story is Charles Austin Muir’s – “Party Monster”. The story begins with a confession but only paragraphs later, gets spiced up even more by the character creating mystical sigils to aid him in his goals. What unfolds is a tale of reality bending carnage that all serves to highlight and explore the unresolved issues of the lead character and the concepts he holds dear. Trippy and brutal, with the added esoteric element of sigils. I really enjoyed it.

Next up is Erik Williams’ – “The Long Bright Descent”, a tale that focuses on two characters racing each other on seemingly strange terms. One has to agree to the terms of the other, whether to be chased or to play a game of wits. Night and day play their role too, and there are some strange and ancient powers at work. I enjoyed The Long Bright Descent because it had me scratching my head and pondering, while also enjoying the dance of hunter and prey, a great combination.

Jonathan Maberry’s – “Mystic” is another great tale, this one featuring a guy that can see dead people, and that has a unique way of helping them deal with their unresolved issues via tattoos and violence. As all good main characters, it is a burden as much as anything, but his sense of compassion drives him on into the fiery pain of vengeance. A gritty and hard-hitting story.

A lot of the stories in Peel Back The Skin feature some gore and violence but a couple did stand out for being particularly “nasty”. Graham Masterton’s - “The Greatest Gift” had a scene in which the female lead character did things that had me grimacing as I read, which is a rare thing. Yvonne Navarro’s – “Superheated” was an arid tale of kidnap and torture in which the victim was as unaware of what was going on as the reader, until the truth was laid bare. It didn’t make me grimace like The Greatest Gift but it certainly stays with you once you've finished reading.

As I said, these are the stories that I wanted to give special mention to, but there wasn’t really a bad story in the bunch, just some I clicked with more than others. If you enjoy variety in your horror, whether that variety comes in pace, location or theme, I think you will find something to like in Peel Back The Skin’s pages. I give it 4/5.

Visit the Peel Back The Skin page on Grey Matter Press here for more information.

Book Title: Peel Back The Skin
Author: Anthology
Publisher: Grey Matter Press
Release Date: 7th June 2016

I was given a free copy of the book to review.

Friday 3 June 2016

Dark Fiction – The Sky Fucker

Dark Fiction – The Sky Fucker

Written by Casey Douglass

The Sky Fucker Pic

‘Hello Ralph, please sit down.’
‘Thank you, those stairs are quite tiring.’
‘Good exercise though, once you are used to them. I dare say that it’s all hover-lifts and teleportation in your line of work?’
Ralph pats his beer belly. ‘Too true, although it’s my ex line of work now.’
‘Oh you’ve quit? If so, my notes here haven’t been updated.’
‘It only happened an hour ago.’
‘Well, it looks like the session is beginning of its own accord so why don’t we continue and get right into things. Why did you quit?’
‘I couldn’t take it any more.’
‘Working on the antenna?’
‘No... that’s never been the problem, as I’ve told you before.’
‘The suicides?’
‘Has there been another one?’
‘Two last night, the mess met me as I came on shift early this morning.’
‘Not that I want to be disrespectful to the dead or anything but it has an effect, seeing that more than anyone should ever have to see it. That’s fifteen this week alone.’
‘That’s why Jurn Technologies pays for these therapy sessions Ralph, it is trying to help its workers.’
‘Oh I know that, I don’t blame the company, they’ve done all they can to stop it happening. No-one would have imagined that building the world's largest antenna would attract every loony that wants to top themselves. The company removed the maintenance ladders at intervals, put up some zero-field netting, perimeter guards and drones, mesh-capturing fields, all sorts of things, but the bastards still get through. I guess it’s something about wanting to fall from the greatest height on Earth or something.’
‘Depressed and unhappy people do tend to seek out all manner of ways to end their lives, if they are so far inclined. They can be quite brilliant in the way that they pursue it too.’
‘Yeah I know, as I said, I get to clean it up.’
‘I suspect the media doesn't help?’
‘Hell no! The sick fuckers are trying to film it happening half the time, their drones buzzing around the antenna like flies around a dead dog. Mind you, remote piloting Big Ralph always brightens my day.’
‘Big Ralph is the security drone?’
‘Yeah, the one I etched my name on when no-one was looking! The plasma guns on that could shoot the cuss out of someone’s mouth at a two mile distance!’
‘Well, I mean when authorization comes through to “disperse” the press drones, it always makes me think of fireworks night, all of those little plumes of colour. Of course, the clean-up of metal fragments later is my job too, so I can’t even fully enjoy the carnage.’
What will you do with yourself now that you’ve left the position? You’ve been in the job quite some time.’
I’m not sure. That’s partly why I still came today, as I’m guessing this will be my last session, seeing as I’m no longer an employee.’
Yes, I’m afraid your free session entitlement will end today. You are fortunate that this session was already paid for, otherwise I would have had to turn you away, however much I didn’t want to.’
I thought so.’
You look troubled, more so than when you first began talking.’
Well, I don’t really see that I have a future after today. My life has been my work, my health is poor, my relatives distant or dead and my social circle non-existent. I’m thinking of killing myself.’
That’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem, although please don’t think that I’m calling your life the problem.’
Yeah I’ve heard all that before. I’m at peace with myself for the first time in thirty-odd years, I know when I’ve had enough of something and that bell is ringing right now, has been for the last year if I'm honest. Do you know what the engineers call the antenna?’
I know that you are changing the subject Ralph but I will play along. What do they call it?’
The Sky Fucker, on account that it looks like a massive knob piercing the clouds.’
Very clever.’
Well, it makes us chuckle.’
Us? You aren’t one any more.’
That doesn’t mean I can’t chuckle at my memories.’
You won’t be able to chuckle at anything if you end your life.’
It’s okay, I’ve laughed enough for one life time.’
How will you do it? End your life I mean.’
The Sky Fucker.’
Really? Why? How?’
The why is that I want to see what the attraction is. The how is that I know how to get past every fucking security measure and every checkpoint. And as I know that you have to alert the authorities if someone is a danger to themselves, I’ve already removed your network capabilities. That was why I was puffing as I came in, that circuit-box is in the tinniest fucking vent I have ever seen!’
The screen in front of him flashed a variety of primary colours before the androgynous lip-less face returned.
I...why come to the session then Ralph?’
To help make up my mind, to see if talking out loud about what I’m going to do would make me change my mind.’
I’m guessing it hasn’t been changed.’
How will you get through the checkpoints though, they won’t let the public enter the facility that surrounds the antenna. You are public now, as you well know.’
Ah but you are wrong there, so it’s all gravy.’
The A.I frowned. ‘What do you mean Ralph?’
Ralph stood and moved to the door, the plexi-metal dissolving in a mist of dematerialization. He turned and smiled as he left the room, saying: ‘They don’t know I’ve quit yet.’

Click here to read the next part.

Wednesday 1 June 2016

Dark Book Review – City Infernal Series

Dark Book Review - City Infernal Series

Review Written by Casey Douglass


City Infernal Series Book Covers

During a listless evening spent browsing the internet, I decided to seek out some new books and authors that might appeal to me. A name that came up a fair few times in the splatterpunk horror genre was Edward Lee and his City Infernal series of hellish fiction. After reading the blurb of book one: City Infernal, I knew that I wanted to read it.

They say location is pretty much everything when it comes to selling a house, so a run-down apartment in Mephistopolis might be going incredibly cheaply. Mephistopolis is basically Hell if it was a city. As is pointed out by a variety of characters in the narrative, the living world has grown and evolved in the last few thousand years. Where once there were fields and woodlands now stand gleaming cities of glass and technology. Hell has also developed in this time, turning from barren sulphur pits into a sprawling expanse of skyscrapers, suffering and pain that stretches as far as the eye can see. This is the concept that hooked me when reading that first blurb. It sounded achingly intriguing.

Each book follows the tales of various characters, both in the living world and in Mephistopolis, whether they end up treading the strange streets and dodging the variety of icky denizens that live there, or are just struggling with their lives in the living world. The books do follow on from each other to varying degrees, so it is certainly a good idea to read them in order: City Infernal, Infernal Angel, House Infernal and Lucifer’s Lottery. The main characters of each book are all interesting, their varying vices and moral struggles often giving the agents of Lucifer ample material to entice and ensnare them. There are agents working for the good guys too however, although in the Mephistopolis, these are treated as criminals and terrorists, as you’d imagine.

While I did really enjoy the narrative of each book, and the wider arc across the four, the setting and invention apparent in the denizens that live there really stole the show. The Mephistopolis is beautifully described, each district themed around its own unique offering. Some are made from blood bricks, enchanted to keep attackers at bay. Others are made from cultivated rot or even faeces. Power stations run via the torture of unfortunate souls, newborn babies are used for food and drink while skin and flesh is sold by the drug-addled and thieves that roam the streets, taking things at will. Strange beasts and demons roam, all with varying jobs and abilities, which is usually to create disorder and enforce laws. These laws are, predictably, chaotic. People must urinate and defecate in public, and there are even zones where demonic units are teleported in to butcher and decapitate anyone unfortunate enough to be there at the time. I have deliberately chosen not to name the various demons and districts as it is quite a pleasure to have things build up in the way that Edward Lee introduces things.

These books are not for the squeamish. There are scenes of torture, mutilation, horror and sexual deviancy that would likely only appeal to fans of more extreme fiction. The amount of bodily fluids alone could almost certainly put someone off their lunch if they happened to be eating at the time of reading. I enjoyed it though, it’s everything you would expect and hope for when describing hellish things. I wanted a book(s) that would grab my attention and give me the vicarious thrill of seeing forbidden things, and the City Infernal series certainly did that.

If you are interested in Hell in any way, shape or form (unless you are religious enough to be afraid of the very idea), I think you will enjoy Edward Lee’s take on the idea. I purchased the eBooks through the Kindle Store for about 3 quid each, which means that the four only cost me a bit more than a tenner. I think that’s a great price for the hours of Mephistopolian tourism that they offer. I give the City Infernal series 5/5 and am hoping to check out more of Edward Lee’s fiction in the future.

Visit Edward Lee’s website for more info and to see some of his other books.

Book Title: City Infernal Series
Book Author: Edward Lee
Publisher: Necro Publications