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HELLMOUTH: A novella by Giles Kristian
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Historical fiction, Horror
Pages: 52 pages (Kindle edition)
Published: 19th February 2021 by Giles Kristian (Self-Published)
Hellmouth is a bloody terrifying blend of historical fiction and horror.
“In the absence of light, darkness prevails”
This was an impulsive read. I accidentally renewed my Kindle Unlimited subscription, and I thought I might as well pick up something intriguing available there. Then I remember that Giles Kristian, the author behind Lancelot—one of the best books I’ve read—and its great follow-up Camelot, has a new novella published. And so I picked this up, and I couldn’t put it down. Giles Kristian has done it again. Hellmouth is a novella highly inspired by the legend of Houska Castle, a horrific story I didn’t know before reading this novella, and now I can’t put it out of my mind. (Thanks for that, Giles.)
“A man builds a castle to keep others out. But this castle, Galien knows as sure as the thump of his heart in his chest, was built to keep something in.”
In Bohemia year 1370, Galien leads a band of hardened mercenaries on a mission for Mother Church, and in that mission, only dark secrets await them. I’m going to keep this review fairly brief because Hellmouth is only 52 pages long, and it took me an hour to finish it. Sometimes, I’m truly impressed by an author’s capability to tell so much story and action—without sacrificing the efficient and effective characterizations—in such a short length. And that’s what Giles did with this novella. Kristian’s prose, as witnessed in Lancelot and Camelot, was again utterly engaging, and the descriptions he put in this book felt so vivid. The forest of flesh, the corpses, the grotesque wounds, and the bloodbath; I felt like I could witness and feel the violence happening right in front of me.
“They all crave violence now, because in violence there is no place for thought, and thought in this place is like a sickness.”
I certainly would’ve preferred a novel instead of a novella; it’s Giles Kristian, the more I can read his storytelling, the better. But I can’t lie that Hellmouth is honestly one of the strongest novellas I’ve read. As always, I highly recommend this or anything by Giles Kristian. This review is also a reminder to myself that I have to read Raven and The Rise of Sigurd series by him one day.
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