I admit to being a bad fan––It’s been so long since I read Hellraisers by Alexander Gordon Smith that I forgot parts of it. Now, let me be clear: Since reading the first book in the Devil’s Engine series, I’ve read over 200 books. That’s a lot. But I knew I was excited, I knew it would kick ass, and I knew I would love it. Suffice it to say, when I started the brand new sequel, Hellfighters, the first thing I thought was: How did I let myself forget this? It’s awesome! I’m a huge fan of Mr. Gordon Smith (I’ll never forget that!), and Hellfighters reminded me why I was a fan in the first place: Stellar action, one-of-a-kind monsters, terrific characters, and a fast-paced story that will leave you breathless. If you’re someone who likes action movies or fast-paced horror, you need these books in your life yesterday.
Thrown into a relentless war against the forces of darkness, fifteen-year-old Marlow Green and his squad of secret soldiers must fight for control of the Devil’s Engines―ancient, infernal machines that can make any wish come true, as long as you are willing to put your life on the line. But after a monstrous betrayal, Marlow, Pan and the other Hellraisers find themselves on the run from an enemy with horrific powers and limitless resources―an enemy that wants them dead at all costs. Failure doesn’t just mean a fate worse than death for Marlow, it means the total annihilation of the world. And when all looks lost and the stakes couldn’t be higher, just how far is he willing to go?
It’s been a long time since I read these books, but I have to admit that it didn’t take me long to become re-emerged in the world. The story is very fast paced (almost nonstop action, a Gordon Smith signature), but I never felt like it was too much. Gordon Smith’s action is always exciting, the demons unlike anything I’ve read before in fiction and the tension so quick I’ve bitten my nails down to the quick. Another thing Gordon Smith does well (and some would argue a little too well), is the gore factor. It’s pretty prevalent in Hellfighters and will definitely leave you a little disturbed, especially during a scene at the end where I actually recoiled a little bit. It didn’t take me out of the story, but suffice it to say I won’t be forgetting it any time soon. The story was fantastic, filled with twists and turns until the very last page, which I definitely did not see coming, and the end will leave me pulling at my hair for months.
The characters are great, with Marlow growing (still making some dumb mistakes but you can’t help but love the guy), and my favourite, Pan, becoming even more intense and complex than I could have imagined. We also got to meet lots of memorable new characters, and see perspectives on the villains that I definitely did not anticipate.
This is Young Adult horror writing at its best. I could “see” everything and smell everything as if it were playing out in front of me. I was fully immersed, to the point where I had to remember that, “Oh yeah, I should probably get back to work before I get fired…” This is definitely a series to be read and enjoyed by horror fans who like their terror to be visceral, unique, and incredibly intense. Don’t miss out on it!