I don’t quite recall the original conversation I had on Facebook, but a little over a month ago, I agreed to review the Death’s Head Press anthology And Hell Followed. Jarod Barbee purchased a digital copy for me, and I downloaded it to my kindle device and started reading.
What intrigued me about this particular horror anthology, was that the theme required authors to craft tales based on the Book of Revelation. Yeah that one. The last book in the Christian Bible. The one that foretells the end of life as we know it on Earth and the second coming of Jesus Christ…
…and a whole bunch of very, very horrible sounding events.
I just finished reading it earlier today, and I must say, it didn’t disappoint. The general quality of the tome held up pretty well. Usually in anthologies, there’s some fluctuation in quality from one story to another, and while each missive was quite different from the next, all of them were engaging and entertaining.
More than a few creeped me out.
That said, a some of them really stood out. Chris Miller’s “Behind Blue Eyes” was a sad, poignant tale in between all the ghastly deaths.
Patrick C. Harrison III crafted “The Old Man and the Lamb” in a creepy, disgusting way, as many dystopias are, although it had a (slightly) hopeful ending.
I got some chuckles out of John Wayne Comunale’s “Apocalypse…Meh.” Imagine the end of Earth and the rising of Satan and his demons triggering a worldwide power surge of heavy metal, where everyone from toddlers to grandmas wears leather, and are into Thrash, Doom, Grind, and all the other metal sub-genres? Ending was gruesome, but oddly fitting.
“Fallen” by James Watts was actually sort of heartwarming, as were parts of Michelle Garza’s and Melissa Lason’s “Godless World”. As a Dad and Grandpa, it was endearing to see the effect fathers had on their daughters, teaching them to survive in an insane world filled with both human and supernatural monsters.
“Six Degrees of Separation” by Delphine Quinn especially shone for me because it depicted the totalitarian evil as enforced social justice. People are implanted with chips soon after birth, and everything you say, think, and feel is recorded, raising or lowering your “score” relative to your not just faking, but actually believing in and practicing progressive values. Punishments for low scores are severe.
I’ve always believed that ANY philosophy, political, or social viewpoint can become a dictatorship once it’s forced on the populace. Quinn did an excellent job of showing this without being preachy.
Richard Raven’s “Mark of the Beast” was exceptionally violent, but the ending was one of the few stories that depicted faith in God and devotion to Jesus, even in the face of said-violence, as having a positive outcome.
I’m not sure how many of the authors possess more than a passing acquaintance with the Bible, let alone have studied it for decades as I have, but I don’t think an accurate theological depiction was necessarily required. Some stories played just so much lip service to it. I can imagine some of the authors “Googling” their source material, which has been painstakingly studied by religious scholars for decades.
But the idea was to use that particularly mystical and difficult to understand biblical book as the basis for manufacturing a world of horror, not to create a theological, scholarly analysis, so in that, it very much succeeds.
Made me wish I’d been able to contribute a story to it.