Sunday, November 1, 2015
Book Review: Hellmaw: YOUR WORLD IS DOOMED! by Ed Greenwood
The war among daemons in another dimension has spilled over into the human realm. The losing daemons were exiled to live among humans, who are no more than cattle to them. Other daemons among the Victorious have followed after the exiles. Three humans: Shanklin Appledar, Shannon Chainsmith, and Nast Lanchester, all find their way tangled in the doings of daemons. Through daemonic magic and allure, these humans fight against the dark, with the dark, and against their own human natures. Will the horrors they see and live through change them, or will they accept transformation willingly?
That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from ...sorry, I'm not sure where I got this. the Onder Librum site, maybe. I apparently didn't copy the URL, and I can't find it now. Sorry.
Shanklin Appledar, Nast Lanchester, and Shannon Chainsmith aren’t important or special. They don’t even know each other. They’re just three normal people trying to get by in the world—a world they suddenly discover they share with some very strange beings indeed.
Dangerous and scary beings. Alluring beings … up to something violent, something increasingly terrifying. And these beings have a message: Your World is Doomed!
But long before our world can meet its fate, these three people seem much closer to meeting theirs. Like right about… now.
Greenwood’s daemons are among us as you read this. Some of them can take the forms of humans, even humans you know. The likenesses are so cunning that you couldn’t tell, except for behavioral changes. Of course, sometimes they don’t even bother with disguises. Daemons may show themselves as grotesque tentacle monsters, shadows, horned monstrosities, or your mother-in-law. Yeah. Anything. The ease with which many of these creatures alter themselves is staggering, but this isn’t the sort of book you’re supposed to believe could happen. That doesn’t make it bad. It’s just not the sort of book I personally was able to “lose myself” in. Still, it was very accessible, as it was set in a world I’m intimately familiar with, so that eliminates learning curve needed to adjust to daemon presences.
This may not mean much to many of you, or it may mean a lot, but reading Ed Greenwood was like reading something I’ve written but lost all memory of writing. It’s very easy to sink into Greenwood’s settings, and holy cow, does he love em-dashes. He writes little asides that flesh out details, thoughts, or that deliver punchlines, right in the middles of sentences, and then the sentence continues like nothing ever happens. Sometimes, these little interruptions are hilarious, particularly in the beginning, in the introduction of Shanklin Appledar, for example. Other times, I got so lost in a long aside that when I returned to the original sentence, I had no idea what was going on. It was an odd experience that did take away from the narrative, but at the same time made the reading experience oddly enjoyable. In some small way, I would compare it to Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy (which I highly recommend even though I haven’t done reviews on them). Stroud’s books have footnotes that take away from the plot of the story, but they add tons to the reading experience. Greenwood’s asides aren’t to that extreme, but it’s a similar effect. At least, it was on my reading experience.
Hellmaw: Your World is Doomed! Probaly isn’t something I would have picked up off a shelf. It’s not quite the sort of book I normally go after, but I have been trying to expand my reading tastes, so diving into Hellmaw made sense. As such, it’s hard to really compare it to other books of its like I’ve read, because I haven’t read anything quite like this. It isn’t fair to compare it to other genres where I am more widely read, because this doesn’t fit into any of those categories. This is my disclaimer. I’m going to do my best to review this neutrally, but if my tastes are a bit colored by other genres I’m more “into”, I apologize. So take this with a grain of salt.
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t completely sure who I should be rooting for in this novel. Clearly, as a human, I was more intrigued with the human characters, and I sympathized with them better than the daemons. But I did find the daemons intriguing, even though much of how you see them is through the humans’ eyes, and they’re so foreign that they come off as, well, demonic (or daemonic). Aum, Jult, Shame, and the other daemons would have been so easy to detest due to the simple fact they’re not human, and they see us clearly as no more than a food source. But what’s the real issue underlying this novel: the human/daemon disjoint or the daemon war? Would one be better if the other wasn’t an issue? This really isn’t addressed, but I really got to thinking after I finished the novel. Who are the real bad guys, all daemons (simply by dint of being what they are) or one side of them? And if the latter, which side? It’s sort of enjoyable to think about. In truth, I think I’ve gotten more out of this book after reading it, just pondering, than I did while actually reading it.
There’s some good entertainment value to this book, especially if you’re into adult content. It wasn’t overly graphic, but there is some… well, some daemons can turn into tentacle monsters or shapeshift in other ways. I’ll put it that way. The narrative and plot are very raw at points, but if you look at it as top-of-the-foodchain sentients doing what they will to their livestock… yeah, that doesn’t make it any better. Humans are, as is a repeated theme, cattle. We are cattle, and the daemons behave as though we are such.
Did I enjoy this book? Sure. Will I pick up the next in line? Sure, why not. Will I be going nuts and waiting with bated breath for it? Not really, but I am curious to see what happens to the humans. Especially Nast. I didn’t like any of the humans more than the others, but some developments toward the end made Nast’s storyline much more intriguing to me, so I’ll come back for him if for nothing else.
And, sure. I like sex as much as the next person, I guess.
Would I Recommend This Book? Hell, why not? (See what I did there?) Hellmaw: Your World is Doomed! Panders to a somewhat specific niche, but what it does, it does well. Greenwood’s writing is distinct and clear, though you may have to read some short sections twice to get past the asides. That almost gives you two different meanings in the same sentence, which can be cool. It didn’t bother me, but it made me conscious I was reading a book. While this wasn’t perfectly up my alley, I still enjoyed the, uh… disturbing romp that was this book. I give Hellmaw: Your World is Doomed! A surgically-altered 4 of 5 stars.
For more on the author, visit http://edverse.officeedgreenwood.com/