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