A richly imagined tale…
Detorres’s genre mash of SF and speculative fiction is a vivid exploration of the power of resilience and perseverance. In Hell’s Heart, the forest that heeds no one but its own gods, the trees are master and lord. For Ellis and his Gundogs, venturing into Hell’s Heart and hunting Gluttons is anything but game: food is scarce and survival difficult. But Gluttons are not the only headache for the group. To get inside and return alive, they must battle The Song of the forest as well. When The Song casts its rhythm into their bones, self-slaughter and murder are the only thoughts the Gundogs have left. Dram, an imperious soldier commanding the forces of Spectre Alliance, approaches Ellis in the Gundogs’ mountain stronghold, offering riches in exchange for retrieving a secret weapon that could end the war. The offer is too good to say no, but fate has other plans for Ellis and his Gundogs. The intriguing cast that features characters from a broad spectrum, including Gundogs, RAIN soldiers, and special needs students, all doing their best to survive in a hostile setting is compelling and gives readers plenty with which to identify. Ellis is a peculiar mixture of competence and intense drive. Alex, Ellis’ right-hand and close friend on his mission is equally compelling. Detorres insightfully chronicles Alex’s gradual awakening to her own strength and potential as she struggles to stay alive in the forest and rescue Araya. Detorres draws on folktale and myth to create his alternative world: with Hell’s Heart at its center, it is as unique and strange as a fairytale setting. The winding forest, where the trees are the ultimate master is both wholly sinister and strangely exotic. Detorres adeptly incorporates fantasy elements into the futuristic setting. Hi-tech weapons, fantastical monsters, political intrigue, and individual struggles all find a place in the leisurely paced narrative. In chronicling Ellis and Alex’s journey, Detorres explores universal themes of survival, loss, grief, examination of one’s identity, bond of friendship, trust, and love. Along the way, he ventures into machinations of mind and power of will, exploring the fine line between light and darkness, the resilience versus fragility of mind, and drive. There is not exactly a happy ending to Ellis and Alex’s story, and the narrative suffers from uneven pacing, but readers will easily immerse themselves in Detorres’s vividly constructed world. This provocative novel is not for everyone, but aficionados of morally serious SF will find it rewarding.
By E. Detorres
Pub date December 18, 2020
Price $3.98 (USD) Kindle edition