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King of the Nine Hells
Dean Klein
Amazon Media, 346 pages

King of the Nine Hells
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.

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A review by Sandra Scholes

To appreciate the novel is to look at the cover with its blood red script, black background and intense green eyes at either side. It is enough to turn the blood cold, yet this is before you have even turned the page.

A gravedigger works late into the night during the Dark Ages, creating a book using papyrus pages bound to a tree which it is believed to be used by a sorcerer. When he has completed it, he gains enough power to serve the leader of a powerful Scottish family.

Hundreds of years later, a man attends a book sale away from London, where he finds a very ancient book, its binding giving it away instantly. Not knowing why he has done it, he steals the book, but what he doesn't know is that the book is one that is possessed by hell itself. It can act on its own, like an evil genie granting the reader anything he or she desires; there are no rules and no care for the consequences either. Anyone who does die by the book can't be traced by anyone investigating the person's death, and that can get even stranger the further into the book you go.

The man who has bought the book, a Peter Ashford doesn't know what he has let himself in for -- the book can hurt and warp a man's mind, and in his case nearly kill his beloved wife. Soon he realizes he must destroy the book as it is pure unadulterated evil itself, but he has a hard time trying when he has two enemies to fight against; an immortal and a human. Peter has a lot to deal with along the way as well as finding out the books horrible secret, one that would destroy humans forever.

Throwing the characters into the Present Day is a good idea for Dean Klein as it gives him a chance to explain the events that lead up to Peter buying the book. Peter is a doctor of Theology and professor at Oxford University, and he is also, interestingly, an expert on the occult. The book, known as the Impreciatio Sortiarii or Curse of the Sorcerer is thrilled at first on finding it as it is an odd book that would be useless to those who were not interested in what it had to offer. On looking at it, Peter is overwhelmed by an urge to know whose book it is, and this might not be such a good idea. The book is not to be held by anyone who believes in God or Heaven. The story goes back and forth in time to make sense of the book and its origins, and also who previously held it.

King of the Nine Hells hooks the reader from the first page with the sight of a man who would buy something that is unusual, the only one of its kind, a rarity. This gives the impression of mystery and intrigue that is associated with the occult and Satanism. Klein regales us with the details of how Peter feels at home with the book, but more importantly how the events unfold when he discusses what the book really is.

The idea of this book is a good one, with characters who are easy to believe in, and a book that is so evil it can come alive and cause all kinds of havoc to unsuspecting humans. The pacing is good, there's not too much explanation, and not too little happening either. Everything happens as it should, and puts the characters who expect something they can rationalize to be completely irrational. Readers will be in for a treat with this novel, it's huge, and one many readers would be proud to own.

Copyright © 2012 Sandra Scholes

Sandra likes the comfort of the sunshine, but knows it will be very short livedů with possible rain on Thorsday. Apart from this sad fact, she is busy writing for Active Anime, Fantasy Book Review, the GLR, and the British Fantasy Society.

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