Disclaimer: The author and I share a publisher for her poetry collections and I consider her a friend. However, I purchased a hardcopy version of this novel for full price.
I hate starting reviews with “I don’t usually read this genre, but…” In this case, however, it’s 100% true. I’m not a horror reader (or viewer). It’s not my chosen form of escapism. However, I’ve been in love with Dante’s Inferno since the first time I read it in high school, and I because I’m lucky enough to know this author personally, I was intrigued by Wytovich’s version of Hell.
I could have easily devoured this book in mere hours, but I took my time in order to stop and reflect on a regular basis. Comparing The Eighth to Inferno does both books a disservice, because they both serve very different purposes. In Inferno, you shadow Dante and Plato through a sterile museum tour filled with curiosities and historical tidbits. In The Eighth, Wytovich drags you kicking and screaming in Paimon and Arazel’s wake, thrusting you into the gory trenches, forcing you to be a participant rather than a spectator. Not only is it a different view of Hell, but it’s a more visceral experience that provides its own agony and depth.
But sometimes, too much of a good thing isn’t necessarily a positive. I’ve criticized erotica novels for sexual content that borders on gratuitous rather than exciting, and while The Eighth never quite crosses that line into sheer “gore porn,” I did eventually find myself dulled to the physical descriptions of pain and torture. They were always beautifully detailed descriptions, but at some point, there can even be too much injury and blood and other miscellaneous bodily fluids.
The back-cover blurb is a great representation of the events that occur in this novel. At the same time, events never once played out as I could have predicted, which made for an exciting read in its own right. I was wrong about Paimon and Rhea, wrong about The Seven, and wrong about who or what would eventually become No. Eight. I was intrigued and hooked at every turn, and while some books are satisfying in their predictability, The Eighth delights in never once proving you right.
Currently reading: Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey