Friday, January 2, 2015

Literature Review #6: At Hell's Gates

We love horror.  Horror is an escape from the mundane.  Horror strokes our imagination and creativity.  In horror stories, people like us can save the world.  In real life, our tormentors are not easily identified...but in horror, they are the monsters.  We understand the evil in horror fiction.  In the daily grind we exist in, evil lurks in undiscovered lairs.  Yet, for so many heroic brave men and women that have sacrificed for the free world, horror and real life have merged.  Most of us share a luxury that horror will be confined to films or books.  The brave soldiers who defend our freedom have ventured into a new reality.  Explosions, death, mines, PTSD, burns, amputations, and paralysis aren't confined to fiction, but have become staples in the reality of so many who have sacrificed for us.  Today's literature review will focus on "At Hell's Gates," a horror anthology edited by Monique Happy and James Crawford. 100% of the profits will be sent to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. This noble organization assists soldiers who have been wounded defending our freedoms, and the families of those soldiers who have paid the ultimate price for us to live free.  
Zombies (the living dead) are horrific enough without a built in appetite for living flesh.  "At Hell's Gates" has put together several zombie stories that have set new limits on how far zombie fiction will go.  If you thought "The Walking Dead" had pushed the limits when Carol shot a 10 year old girl in the back of the head....well...this anthology will mock you in chanting " haven't seen nothing yet!"  Though we are presented with 18 different stories, I came away from my reading experience feeling I had read one epic novel.  All the fiction in this collection meshes in such a way as to contribute to one huge end-of-the-world spectacular.  Devan Sagliani's "Black Crow Laughing" opens the anthology with a story young lovers entering into a post-apocalyptic world in California. Subsequent stories chronicle the downfall of some neat cities such as Harrisburg, Lansing, or Fort Myers (..this one by Shana Festa had me moaning and nearly to tears).  In Stevie Kopas' "Nefarious," a mother's love for her children proves even more horrific than the hungry dead.  In "No Shelter," by Lesa Kinney Anders and Matthew Kinney, we are introduced to a hint of where the zombie apocalypse began.  This clue is flushed out by S.G. Lee, in "Journal of the Undead: The Beginning."  In this story, we are introduced to a setting that is best explained by imagining the TV shows "MASH" meeting "The Walking Dead."     
The zombie apocalypse, and price of war, are worldwide, and in a most haunting story, as told through the eyes of a child, Paul Mannering introduces us to a New Zealand perspective of the apocalypse.  A quick change of pace, and ghosts, cults, and demons are introduced into our reading experience.  Though the majority of AHG utilizes the walking dead, other nightmares are utilized. Sharon Stevenson's "Welcome to Hell" concludes the anthology with one of my favorite plot devices, vampire hunters (I've always thought Van Helsing to be the greatest literary character of all time).  
This anthology can be ordered on  More important, you may contact the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund at
Also, visit for more information on AHG, or to contribute to the next volume, already in the works.  All the stories in this book will please the horror fan.  More important, God Bless the authors for giving their talents for the noblest of causes.  Each of these authors attaches a short account of their personal appreciation for this great charity.  Go to now and treat yourself to a terrifying anthology...and at the same time, honoring our real heroes. 


  1. You had me at anthology. Will be checking this one out my friend.

  2. Thank you very much for writing this review. It's a worthy cause and has quite a few good stories in it.

    Will you be reviewing the second one?