All over the world mysterious black stones appear. They begin to pulsate, shimmer and then project a shimmering arch, through which surge hordes of demons, intent on world conquest.
The story is told through multiple viewpoints: Mina Magar, photojournalists in London, Rick Bastion, a faded alcoholic one hit wonder rock star in the UK South West, Tony Cross, a Staff Sergeant on the Iraq/Syria border, and Guy Granger, a US Coastguard off the coast of a besieged New York. All of them are close to a stone when it becomes a Gate, and all of them are in the front-line in this new war against Hell.
The monsters break down into 4 main groups; giant fallen angels, complete with loincloths and frazzled wings; badly burnt humanoids, ape like creatures with razor sharp talons, and possessed humans. The humanoids are talkative but their conversation is generally unpleasant, forever calling people “maggot” and “worm,” and threatening to variously disembowel people or defecate in their skull. All have a beef with humanity and generally want it gone so they can take over the world and desecrate God’s creation and make Him appear so they can make Him vulnerable and attack Him. Or something.
This book is stark, staring bonkers. Even by the standards of apocalyptic horror, it’s out there. It makes like your average zombie novel read like common sense. It has an effective build up and when the demons first appear I was intrigued. The multiple plot-lines / viewpoints were an interesting juxtaposition and you waited for some kind of narrative cohesion that would help you to buy into this world. That does not appear. There are a lot of set pieces, some effective shocks and Game of Thrones-esque offing of a major characters (although one is rescued by a pretty gob-smacking Deus ex machina) but there’s a lot of laboured exposition and info-dumping, as demons taunt their prey and explain the plot in a way the villains used to do on bad tv.
The theology is cartoonish in its depiction and understanding of Hell and it’s hierarchies.
And yet, I did enjoy the book, and it rattled along at a good old rate. There is enough skill in evidence to keep you flipping teh pages and immersed in this utterly daft pulp horror.
The audio version is read by Nigel Patterson who does a good job of characterisation, clarity and pacing