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Hell's Shadows
Dean Klein
Createspace, 412 pages

Hell's Shadows
Dean Klein
Dean Klein is a former industrial marketing director responsible for the research and development of new business for operating companies as well as for clients of Stanford Research Institute. In his private time, he developed a strong interest in the works of Michael Crichton.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: King of the Nine Hells

A review by Sandra Scholes

Dean Klein is the author of King of the Nine Hells, a book I remember reviewing a while back and enjoying a hell of a lot. In his new novel Gil and Robin are a couple who live in a house that should be their dream home, but unfortunate circumstances change Gil's mind about living there. Their dream home is haunted by the force of one person. He influences other things in the neighbourhood to turn against anyone who lives there, ghosts, trees, etc. Think about the Amityville house and times it by a hundred for ghostly and terrifying impact.

Gil and Robin Turner have no idea of what went on over a hundred years ago and what it means for their survival once they have got moved into the house. Back in what was considered the sleepy town of Carson Creek in North Carolina in 1830, a pastor is driven from his pulpit by an angry mob who dislike him immensely, and for this hatred he curses his congregation from the bottom of his heart for what they have done. They, ignoring his curses, are the ones who feel the blame when something horrible happens that changes the town forever; making the third and fourth generation inhabitants never dare speak of what happened to kill so many people.

Just as in the Amityville novel, the new tenants to the house have no idea of the wrath the pastor felt at the time. They stumble upon the house in Carson Creek by accident when Gil faints while house hunting with his wife. Though the house is in an advanced state of disrepair, they decide to take it as it can be worked on to make it look like the dream home they always wanted. The realtor tells them it would be impossible to do so, and then comes out with the truth that the house has a murderous history and an atmosphere they wouldn't like. As is usual with horror novels of this type, the two of them ignore all the warnings, buy the house and have it renovated, but not without them finding out that if they stay there any longer, they might die. The house has all kinds of ghosts, vampiric trees with bloody sap, the house can change its form to try and kill the inhabitants, strange winds and eerie shadows all serve to try and drive them out, but what remains to be seen is whether they will stick to their guns and get rid of them and, of course, the wronged pastor.

It is unusual to have a pastor, a man of the cloth so to speak cursing his entire congregation, but when anyone is angry, they force their anger onto others without knowing what the consequences would be. There are other priests in popular horror novels who have strayed from the side of good to become undead vigilantes, turning their hatred on the wrongdoers, and this won't be the last. Everyone thinks that when someone curses them it's never going to happen, but the curse doesn't just affect the previous generation, it affects the rest to come. Hell's Shadows is about a loving couple caught up in a centuries old struggle that is nothing to do with them. Readers of Stephen King's Pet Semetary and Christine will know that it isn't good to live on cursed land, or try to understand an inanimate object. As far as ghost stories are concerned, this is a strange one, off the wall or whatever you might want to say. The haunting has a realistic feel to it that makes you not want to even try to read this with the light off.

The novel starts with Klein's description of the house and how deadly and horrific it is that it couldn't be possible that a couple such as Gil and Robin would want to buy a house like it, let alone renovate it as though it is a normal one. In horror, the innocent always have to pay in some way or another, and here Gil thinks about how Robin was interested in the house he should have left alone years before. He has an idea that there is something wrong with it, but she insisted they should go for it. Her decision to ignore his pleas ends with her being taken to a medical centre as a patient, never to be seen again. And as the story begins with the ending, we read the story through the eyes of Gil and feel his despair. It's not like they didn't get a warning about how evil the house was. Elaine Reynolds, the one who sold them the house is the one who tells them about it, so in effect it could be said that it is Robin's fault that all this devastation happened. It wasn't Gil's fault as he had a feeling things weren't right. This aside, he loved Robin, the one woman he thought he would never get with as she was considered out of his league. She had access to everything a privileged life could give so when she said yes to marry him, he was more than surprised. He was a modest man of means, while she came from riches, but hated to mention it in passing. Hell's Shadows is a page-turner, successful at getting you to hide under the duvet at certain moments.

Copyright © 2014 Sandra Scholes

Sandra reviews for several magazines and websites with ranging genres; Hellnotes, Love Romance Passion, Albedo One, Fantasy Book Reviews and many, many more.

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