Just finished reading Edward Lee's City Infernal
--an unusual and enjoyable book.
The whole novel revolves around Lee's re-imagining of Hell as a city--the Mephistopolis. It begins with the main character, a Goth girl named Cassie, suffering a terrible tragedy. Then it fast-forwards to her and her father leaving Washington, DC and moving in to a rural house with a dark and sinister past.
Cassie makes contact with some damned souls who have escaped from the infernal city, and what started as a conventional haunted house story becomes a very dark urban fantasy as Cassie and her new friends pass through the veil and enter Hell. And along the way, Cassie discovers that she has an unexpected and important destiny.
Lee's vision of the infernal metropolis is very interesting and detailed, but in some ways, the story's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. The main characters spend a lot of time exploring the Mephistopolis, seeing the revolting sights, and talking about the features and rules of the afterlife. And as a result, at times, the narrative takes a back seat to exposition. It's a bit like a superhero origin story, in some ways.
Fortunately, Lee's imagination is vivid and inventive enough to make these talking-head passages enjoyable. And in time, the story does pick up, and arrives at a satisfying, suspenseful, and even epic climax. I give it three
's out of four.
There are two sequels, Infernal Angel
and House Infernal
, and a volume of short stories by other authors who were invited to play in Lee's sandbox. I'm looking forward to reading all of them.