It’s Gonna Be One Helluva War: A preview of Monsters in Hell, volume 24 in the Heroes in Hell™ series

It’s Gonna Be One Helluva War: A preview of Monsters in Hell, volume 24 in the Heroes in Hell™ series

Kindle and Paperback editions published by Perseid Press.  Copyright ©2024, Janet Morris. Book design: Marie Pitrat & Christopher Morris. Cover design: Roy Mauritsen.

Monsters in Hell just released this May 2024 (Kindle and Paperback editions published by Perseid Press).

Hell is a real place. Anyone who has broken a commandment winds up there. That’s pretty much everybody. Satan is the boss. You’re okay until you’re not. But never fear, all your friends are here. As well as everyone you’ve ever heard of. You are not alone and the party is in full swing. However, keep in mind: our Hell is unlike any other.

Picking up where Liars in Hell leaves off, Monsters in Hell continues existing plot lines and relates new stories with characters from all epochs of human history, as they struggle against torment and even more common problems derived from their own unique situations. But wait… things are changing, even for the Devil and his subordinates, in ways that will cause exciting variations, if not outright Liberation. The times, they are a changing…  As on Earth, so in Hell. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell where one leaves off and others begin.

Life and Afterlife, Earth and Hell… all mirror images of each other.


There will be intrigue, betrayal and war in Monsters in Hell, with new plagues and fresh rival factions hoping to carve off a bit of Infernity for themselves. Terrorists and unhuman invaders — as well as damned souls and monstrous creatures — are on the loose and running amok as Reassignments (Hell’s own version of Reincarnation) fails for reasons unknown. Famous and infamous characters from history, myth, and literature… characters just as monstrous as any devil, demon or creature native to Hell, go mano a mano in a war no one understands or even tries to comprehend.

What are they fighting for? Why are they fighting? Who fired the first shot? This is a war brought about by fake news, distortions of truth, and endless propaganda campaigns. This is the Liars War, a war born in a cauldron of misinformation, disinformation, and outright lies. From every circle and level of Hell spring forth the most terrifying weapons ever known: the WMDs — Weapons of Monstrous Destruction. Lost Souls, demons, devils, and kaiju born in the bowels of Perdition are ready to rumble.

And now, in the words of those witnessing the Liars War, experience Monsters in Hell‘s contents:

JP Wilder, copyright © 2024 Perseid Press

Green-eyed Monster, by Chris Morris and Janet Morris

Because of a foreboding dream Satan has had, he orders his second in command, Samael the angel of death, to round up all of humanity’s intellects and ‘turn them toward the darkness.’ Diffidently, Samael takes his leave to do so. In the meantime, playwrights Christopher “Kit” Marlowe and William Shakespeare visit Deptford on an errand set them by the ‘Wizard Earl’ Henry Percy, where they encounter Sir Walter Raleigh reconnoitering the warship Ark Royal. Upon Raleigh’s return to the School of Night campus, he is abducted by dark forces. Kit and Will seize upon the event to craft a play destined to be an overnight smash. Sucked into a maelstrom of abductions themselves, Will and Kit must confront the abomination responsible.

 

The Pied Piper of Harmelin, by A.L. Butcher

The Liars’ War is at the gates, damned souls are swept into battle; plagues ravage the nether-realms, and the Undertaker is AWOL; Reassignments isn’t what it used to be. Mortality in immortality is in the cards. No one likes the hand they’ve been dealt.

The town of Harmelin has a rat problem. A BIG rat problem. But it’s much worse than mere plague, war, or vermin: in addition to everything else, it’s election week. Kaiser Wilhelm does not like to lose, and will do anything to retain the mayoral chain, but his rebellious son has other plans — a nefarious scheme to ensure he’s Harmelin’s hero.

What could possibly go wrong?

The voters are restless, bickering and generally annoyed with ‘unlife’, and now there’s a swarm of Hellrats to contend with. It will not go down well at the polls. Something must be done! Call pest control and there’s none better than the mysterious Piper who stalks the underworld, his enchanted Pipes playing music that drives men mad. Yet the hellrats come when he calls, for he is the Piper and they are his rats. But is he a rat, monster, or man, or perhaps something else? Accursed and damned, he knows it and does not care, for he is the Piper, a legend, a terrible myth incarnate. He is a fairytale, a warning, a nightmare. And no one ever pays their debts to him. And no one ever learns. Harmelin’s problems are about to get hellishly worse. Dare you follow the Piper and his rats? Dare you listen to the music of his magic Pipes? This is the Pied Piper as you’ve not encountered him — a fairytale of Hellish proportions.

 

Dogs of War, by S.E. Lindberg

Discredited evolutionist Ernst Haeckel coined the term ‘First World War’ when he was living Topside and, now in Hell, he witnesses a greater conflict spanning realms: the Liars War. Perhaps worse than seeing explicit battle carnage is watching the underpinnings of Hell’s lifecycle (deathcycle?) come apart. In Hell, those who are deceased cannot die again, so casualties trigger a Reassignment of necromatter, via the Mortuary, where damaged beings are recycled for unending, tortuous tours of duty. But during the Liars War, the machinery of Reassignment fails: corpses now overflow battlefields, filling the Vile River and clogging Lykopolis’ own mortuary, which lies at the intersection of New Hell City and the Egyptian Underworld of Duat. The Egyptian “wolf city” of Lykopolis sits in the waterways of the Vile Delta and is governed by Anubis and Wepwawet, both canine-human hybrid gods subservient to Satan. Anubis orders his Chief Liar & War Correspondent, Howard Carter, the archaeologist who discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamun, to oversee Haeckel in repairing the Mortuary. The jackal-headed god threatens both men with frontline trench duty if they cannot get it operational again. The ibis-headed, father of alchemy, Thoth, had been the facility director, but he has gone missing.

Did he sabotage the facility? Is he kidnapped or assassinated?

Countless jackal-heads choke the Mortuary’s filters with tissue from am-fib-ians — shape-shifting, amphibious humanoids who assume the appearance of those they consume. Restoring Reassignments is hardly a chivalrous task, but at least doing so will sustain a parody of humanity. The duo learn that their mission was not to clear the inlet pipes feeding the facility, or restore the Reassignment process as it was, but to weaponize the corrupted inventory. Haeckel and Carter set out to create soldiers that are less human and more monstrous. Haeckel’s scientific nature motivates him to appreciate life, but this assignment puts his biological skills and dwindling morality to the test. The Lykopolis Mortuary is fueled by Egyptian hybrid energy with a canine focus. Whereas Haeckel would rather create pet companion dogs, instead he manufactures furry Weapons of Monstrous Destruction (WMD) and improved explosive devices, such as his Jackal-in-the-Boxes (JITBs), that explode when opened. Haeckel is conflicted; he does not want to send any lifeform into war, even animalistic, suicide-bombs. Haeckel dreams up a plan to sabotage the WMDs and JITBs with a secret functionality.

Meanwhile, greedy Carter seizes the opportunity to gain power while remaining safely away from real combat. He continues reporting fake news to fuel the Liars War while rising in Satan’s favor by taking credit for Haeckel’s craft. As they wait for Anubis and Wepwawet to acquire and employ the new, monstrous arsenal, the duo plays matches of the chess-like ‘Jackals and Hounds’ on a game-table stolen from Tut’s tomb. They seek to outwit each other and the canine gods they work under. The mystery of Thoth’s fate and machinations is revealed as Anubis and Wepwawet watch Haeckel and Carter demonstrate their wares. Even the gods are surprised when the hybrid energies of Lykopolis manifest and reveal themselves. The Mortuary would indeed be renewed, but none, not even Anubis or Wepwawet, would have predicted the monstrous power of alchemical warfare.

 

The Tarnished Horde, by Joe Bonadonna and S.E. Lindberg

East across the Vile River, in the Wastelands of Necrovania, the Tarnished Horde of warriors from all eras gather for war. Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, Chiang Kai-shek, and Samson the Nazirite await orders from some high-level command they know nothing about… orders to cross the river, destroy Port Boil and the Golem Heights, and then invade New Hell City, where Satan resides. The Liars War has begun, and yet not one Damned soul in all Perdition knows who started the war, who’s in charge, and what in Hell they’re all fighting for. Some had a vision, some heard voices, others were visited in dreams, received anonymous hext messages and hellphone calls — messages telling them where to assemble and await the final order to attack. But Khan and Joan of Arc suspect there is a spy in their midst, and while they have a good idea of who that lost soul might be, they have no proof.

Meanwhile, genealogist Ernst Haeckel and the tomb-raiding Howard Carter have been ordered by Anubis, the Egyptian Guardian of the Dead, to inspect Genghis Khan’s weapons and munitions depot. They travel to the occupied city of Hexopolis to rendezvous with Khan’s advisors. Both take their orders directly from the high-ranking Anubis, and that privilege allows them to advance their own personal agendas. Haeckel is covertly working on top-secret weapons of his own design, while Carter, being a lead war correspondent, decides to broadcast live during the sortie to fuel mayhem and his popularity. His fake news and misinformation are entertaining as they are insulting, and Khan’s men become annoyed. As agents of misinformation, Haeckel and Carter learn enough to disinform New Hell City and inform their master. As the Liars War escalates, Anubis acts uncharacteristically confused when they report in. But who are they to question their superior’s health or motives?

Port Boil stands on the opposite side of the Vile River, on the eastern edge of the Golem Heights peninsula. Here the first line of defense awaits orders from some upper echelon of command: are they to hold fast or cross the river and make the first strike in the Liars War? Heracles, Annie Oakley, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, and General George Armstrong Custer are among the defenders here, wondering what this war is all about and how it all came to pass. Like their unknown foes across the Vile, they also received similar calls and messages, telling them to assemble here, along the banks of the river, and defend Golem Heights and the road into New Hell City. Who their supreme commander might be, who they’re fighting, and why they’re fighting this war of lies and propaganda, fake news and a plague of misinformation are questions they debate and argue over amongst themselves. No one knows a thing. It’s all a mystery to them, as if some unknown entity cast a spell over them and compelled them to journey here and stand ready to fight. Unknown to them, there’s a traitor in their midst.

And what is this dark and shadowy figure of a little girl that often walks among both armies? Is she real? A phantom? Some harbinger of Oblivion or Obliteration? No one knows. When at last the call to arms finally comes down, both armies face more than they ever expected as legions of the Damned, hosts of demons, and herds of monsters in Hell go at each other, tooth and nail, fang and horn. And during the battle, to the horror of all involved, the shadowy little girl reveals who she truly is when they discover what she has wrought.

 

From Hell to Eternity by Joe Bonadonna

With Port Boil destroyed and the first line of defense slaughtered, the defense of the eastern front of the Golem Heights is left to the demons entrenched along the upper slope of the peninsula. These are New Breed demons called the Uncubi, the unpublished authors and poets, playwrights and songwriters who had sold their souls to Nephilim whom they thought were Muses, and were turned into demons upon their descent into Hell. They are now led by their hetman and Union steward, Mister Up. His army of infernal doughboys has made alliance with a ragtag battalion of kobolds and a few legions of lost souls. Their job is to stop the enemy in Necrovania from crossing the Vile River, invading the Golem Heights and pressing on into New Hell City. As with everyone involved in this Liars War, Mister Up’s war-fighters have no idea who they’re fighting or even why they’re fighting. Hext messages, hellbo calls, strange voices, dreams, and visions summoned them to fortify the Golem Heights and prepare to defend it. Mister Up and his Uncubi question everything they heard or were led to believe, for the Liars War is just that: a war of lies.

Are they to remain entrenched and wait for their unknown foes to attack first? Or will they be given the order to move out and attack the enemy across the Vile River, as the first line of defense was told to do, only to be annihilated by forces and powers unknown and unseen by Mister Up and his troops. So they huddle in their trenches while aerial dogfights take place overhead, and while they shelter against the constant bombardment their foes. When the war reaches them at last and they are forced to defend the Golem Heights, what they encounter are enemies none of them could ever have imagined.

Overlooking the maze of trenches from the summit of the Golem Heights lie the ruins of Goblin Manor, the home and laboratory of Doctor Victor Frankenstein. Shelled at the start of the war, the remains of this once fine manor house are now just more debris strewn across a war-torn hellscape of utter destruction. But deep in his underground bunker, safe from bombs and bullets, fire and invasion, Doctor Frankenstein and his partner, Alan Turing, the man who cracked the Nazi code during World War II, work feverishly to obey Satan’s command: to build an army of monsters, for the defense of New Hell City is of utmost importance. Thus the two men have their orders and do as they’re told, and await the arrival of Adam (a/k/a Frankenstein’s Monster), his lover Galatea, and a very special guest from Hades.

Frankenstein’s and Turing’s first experiment is a success and ready for battle. They’ve taken Goliath the Philistine and, using both science and alchemy, have turned him into a powerful beast who is part man, part demon and part machine — a raging WMD — a remote-controlled Weapon of Monstrous Destruction. They have succeeded in their first attempt, and Victor proudly proclaims:

 “Team Frankenstein: monster makers making monsters to fight monster!”

Meanwhile, the western front of the Golem Heights peninsula is defended by an army of lost souls, and a handful of kobolds and goblins, all under the command of former actors, Douglas Fairbanks and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. They defend the peninsula along the shores of the Sea of Sorrow, fighting in a maze of trenches. Like everyone else who has some “skin in this game,” they wonder how the Liars War got started and why it started. As they exchange volleys with the enemy who manages to maneuver around the tip of the peninsula and attack them on their own front in an effort to invade the hellscape from the west, swashbuckling actor Errol Flynn and his companion, Quasimodo, the former Hunchback of Notre Dame, show up to relay a message from Doctor Frankenstein.

But Flynn and Quasimodo are also on a secret mission: to find the last of the buried treasure from King Solomon’s mines. Just as the Sea of Sorrow begins to bubble and boil as a number of undersea volcanoes rise from the depths, Flynn and Quasimodo take off to complete their mission and manage to escape just as the volcanoes erupt and a host of kaiju emerge from the bottom of the sea. That’s when all hell truly breaks loose.

 

Fire in the Blood, by Chris Morris and Janet Morris

Satan is in absentia, pursuing a traitor of stratospheric rank. Frances Walsingham, Elizabeth I’s spymaster, races to capitalize on this turn of events bearing seeds of a new political order in Hell. The action centers in the Tower, Hell’s own facsimile of London’s palace of pain. Here are gathered legions of the lights of human thought, rescued from Satan’s aborted scheme to turn them ‘toward the darkness’.  The makings of Walsingham’s dream spy network are here for the assembling. If only he can rally Will Shakespeare to lead — er, direct — them in a production sure to be a hit for all Infernity. But where is the Bard and his near-alias bosom friend, Kit Marlowe?

Not far away, I bet.

Elsewhere amidst the circles, levels and pits of Perdition. . .

New Hell is beset by warring factions, and there are many battlefields, both active and strewn with corpses that, for unknown reason, are not immediately returned to the Mortuary for Reassignment, but die and rot, where they fall into mass graves or lie spread across abandoned battlefields. Satan is firmly in charge of the pretexts for these battles, and his attempts to lie his way through everything complicates life for the Damned, who can’t tell what is true from what is false. Life imitated Art when the plagues in Hell became a reality with the Covid pandemic, and now Art imitates Life as the winds of war blow hot across Europe.

 

They say war is Hell. But war in Hell takes it to a whole new level. Is it the Year of the Diamond Dogs?

Is it the Armageddon Rag? Is it Apocalyptic Bebop? Is it the end of Hell as we know it?

The answers to these and other questions can be found only in the pages of Monsters in Hell (link).

 

JP Wilder, copyright © 2024 Perseid Press

 


Joe Bonadonna is the author of the heroic fantasies Mad Shadows — Book One: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser(winner of the 2017 Golden Book Readers’ Choice Award for Fantasy); Mad Shadows — Book Two: The Order of the Serpent; Mad Shadows — Book Three: The Heroes of Echo Gate; the space operaThree Against the Stars and its sequel, the sword and planet space adventure, The MechMen of Canis-9; and the sword & sorcery pirate novel, Waters of Darkness, in collaboration with David C. Smith. With co-writer Erika M Szabo, he penned Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin (winner of the 2017 Golden Books Judge’s Choice Award for Children’s Fantasy), and its sequel, The Power of the Sapphire Wand.

He also has stories appearing in: Azieran: Artifacts and Relics; Savage Realms Monthly (March 2022); Griots 2: Sisters of the Spear; Heroika I: Dragon Eaters; Poets in Hell; Doctors in Hell; Pirates in Hell; Lovers in Hell; Mystics in Hell; Liars in Hell; Sinbad: The New Voyages, Volume 4; Unbreakable Ink; Poetry for Peace; the shared-world anthology Sha’Daa: Toys, in collaboration with author Shebat Legion; and with David C. Smith for the shared-universe anthology, The Lost Empire of Sol.

In addition to his fiction, Joe has written numerous articles, book reviews and author interviews for Black Gate online magazine.

Visit Joe’s Amazon Author’s page. His Facebook author’s page is Bonadonna’s Bookshelf

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Joseph P Bonadonna

Thanks, Seth! Thanks, John! Another great job of representing one of my articles.

SELindberg

It’s a joy to be on the front lines of the war in hell with you.


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