Civilization is over as we know it, most of the planet is a scorched wasteland. Only three human cities remain standing: London, Moscow and Hong Kong. They are now shells of their former selves and have become places where humans hide in fear from creatures that want to enslave or eat them. This isn’t the Mayan prophecy come to life or the zombie apocolypse. The year is 2020 and bugs have taken over the planet.
It all started with an eruption at Yellowstone park followed by an army of bugs emerging from beneath the earth’s crust . Their leader is The Great Maurr, a giant ant-headed creature who has brought hell to earth and made all of North America into the City of Hell. The Great Maurr has taken over the planet and his bug army has laid waste to everything. Humanity has never known anything like this. There is no more religion, no more rules, just pain and suffering.
This is the setting for Master of the Macabre participant Collin Barnes’ City of Hell Chronicles Volume 1. City of Hell Chronicles is the first release from Anachron press which was founded by Collin Barnes. Anachron Press’s goal is to produce timeless books that stand on their own. Anachron has already scheduled 3 anthologies for 2012 and is accepting submissions from authors who have great stories to tell.
City of Hell Chronicles is an anthology of 8 stories that shows how the Great Maurr enslaved the planet and how the last few survivers of the human race try to stay alive. The first story in this book is Genesis by Collin Barnes and tells how the end of the human race began. The second story by Victoria Griesdoorn, called Medical Report, tells what happens when a giant centipede is brought into a hospital and infects the hospital staff.
The third story is The Door From Below by Ren Warom which is about a group of three people who encounter faceless creatures called the stock takers that collect bodies to be turned into bug hybrids. Up next is London Calling by Kendall Grey which is about a woman who meets a group of strange monks that are not what they seem. Fifth on the list is The Lucky Ones by Anne Michaud. This one is a tragic love story about a woman trying to find her boyfriend after suffering a great loss.
The Final Passage by Belinda Frisch goes into how the bug society works and follows the story of a group of slaves trying to escape the city of hell. Expanding on the bug society is The Nursery by Amy L. Overley which follows a woman named Otter who is forced to become a part of a bug breeding program and becomes what she hates most. The last story is by Victoria Griesdoorn again and tells the tale of a woman living in a hospital that has to search for fuel to keep the building running and her patients alive.
Three words to describe this book are dark, disturbing, and disgusting. I really enjoyed it. This book is exactly what a hard core horror novel should be, it creeps you out because each story presents characters that you can’t help fall in love with and you can’t put it down because you wonder if these people are going to survive the harsh conditions they are in. My only problem with the book was that after reading four stories and seeing how dark it was, I felt I knew how the rest of the stories we’re going to go, but I guess with a book called City of Hell you shouldn’t expect happy endings. What you do get to see in this book is stories of humans suffering great losses and doing whatever it takes to survive.
Despite the fact that it is an anthology, I thought the City of Hell Chronicles read like a novel. In each story you see how the conditions get progressivly worse, the bugs get stronger and the humans start to turn on each other. I found myself wondering if the writers talked to each other on how each story would go and how they would relate to each other. The writing in this book was much better then I expected and in the future and I would love to read more from each of these authors. There is a Chronicles Of Hell Volume 2 that will be coming out in 2012 and I can’t wait to see where they go next. If your not too scared of bugs and you like your horror dark and scary, give Chronicles Of Hell a try. You won’t be disappointed.