"Hellfire & Damnation II" is the sequel to the award-winning short story collection released in 2011 with a framing device of Dante's "Inferno" and the 9 Circles of Hell and sins/crimes punished at each. (www.HellfireAndDamnationTheBook.com).
The first book won an E-Lit award, plus Silver Feather, NABE and Pinnacle awards. The book is unique in featuring illustrations with each story, and it also has a "From the Author" section that tells what inspired each story. It is 56,000 words long and has a cover by award-winning artist Vincent Chong of the U.K. The stories have variant settings, but it is not necessary to have read the first collection to enjoy the second.
Connie Corcoran Wilson has published 10 books since 2003. "Hellfire & Damnation" (www.HellfireandDamnationtheBook.com) came out in February, 2010. Her three volumes of true ghost stories of Route 66 (Ghostly Tales of Route 66, www.GhostlyTalesofRoute66.com) are out from Quixote and in E-book format from Quad City Press. Her first book ("Training the Teacher As A Champion") was published by PLS Bookstores in 1989. Her sci fi novel "Out of Time" was published by Lachesis in 2008 and the screenplay written based on the book was a winner in a "Writer's Digest" competition. Her 2 humor collections are "Both Sides Now" (2003) and "Laughing through Life" (2011). Her illustrated children's book, "The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats" was released at Christmas in 2011. "Hellfire and Damnation II" was released July 28, 2012 in E-book format and in paperback shortly after (The Merry Blacksmith Press.) Her nonfiction book showcasing many of the movie reviews written for the Quad City Times between 1970 and 1979 made up the bulk of the book, along with 76 photos, major cast and interactive trivia. "The Color of Evil," a novel that is the first in a trilogy about a young boy with paranormal abilities, was released in 2012. "Red Is for Rage," the second book in the trilogy, will be released in January, 2013. Connie has been writing for pay since age 10 and taught writing at 6 IA/IL colleges. She is a member of AWP (American Writing Program), MWA (Midwest Writers' Association), MWC (Midwest Writing Center), HWA (Horror Writers Association), ITW (International ThrillerWriters) and IWPA (Illinois Women's Press Association.) Her books have won E-Lit, Pinnacle, NABE and Silver Feather awards and the 400,000 member blog Associated Content named her its Content producer of the year (for politics) in 2008. Since then, she has been named Midwest Writing Center Writer of the Year (2010) and won the Chicago chapter of IWPA Silver Feather award on June 6, 2012.
My thoughts: To begin this short piece on my thoughts of the book Hellfire and Danmantion II, I just have to state that I have never before been so effected by the introduction in a book. I was struck by the very first phrase and by the time I had finished reading the intro, there was absolutely NO way that I would not read this book. I actually went on-line and bought a copy of book one as I had not read that yet. The introduction was so well written that I just knew the book would be even better. I was not disappointed. This collection of short stories is fabulous. The writing is wonderful; the word selection, the pacing, the structure, everything just works. Her writing draws you in emotionally and you feel as if you are a part of it all. The characters are first rate, in all of the stories. She mixes humor with the horror in just the right doses.
A collection of stories based on the 9 level's of Dante's Hell. I wasn't terribly impressed with this collection. I love Dante's version of Hell and had been expecting more; perhaps more horror or terror. The stories were mediocre. Some were real duds and the majority were just ok. The last few stories were better than the earlier stories making the average rating come out to a close 3/5.
1. Cold Corpse Carnival - A man died by falling into an ice pit and is kept there frozen, eventually becoming the small town's main (only) attraction. But the 130-odd-year-old corpse is in a state of Limbo. His body may be dead, or more like in suspended animation, but his brain has been completely functional all these years and he's vowed to exact vengeance on people in general who represent the decades of people who have dishonoured his corpse all these years, Just ok. Predictable with an unsatisfying ending. Interesting premise though and I remember reading an article once about a true-life miner's body on display somewhere. (3/5)
2. The Shell - A harsh story of an old Mayan religious fanatic who kidnaps a 12yo girl for Quetzalcoatl. She's there for a few days being raped and the story is a bit hard to read but the focus turns onto the girls courage, intelligence and bravery in concentrating on how to escape. This story gives me better expectations of Wilson's writing than the previous story. (4/5)
3. Tempus Fugit: Resurrection Cemetary - Lady in a white dress ... hitchhiker ... ghost story. meh. (2/5)
4. The Champagne Chandelier - A well-written narrative of an only child who upon getting ready for her mother's funeral looks back upon her flamboyant life with five husbands. She was widowed by them all except for a divorce from one who had two children, one a daughter, the narrator's own age, who was mean, evil and tormented her for the three years their parents were together. A tale of a dysfunctional family with a spooky ending. (4/5)
5. A Spark on the Prairie - This is pure historical fiction. An ex Kiowa Indian Chief who has been shamed for his cowardice narrates the downfall of the Natives and the greediness and lies of the white man until the end when they have all been rounded up onto reservations. Lots of quotes, names and dates, and BORING. (1/5)
6. M.R.M. - Very short but when of the best-written stories so far. A hen-pecked man has been working on an invention to modify his wife back to the way she was when he met her for most of their thirty year marriage. (4/5)
7. A Bridge Too Far - Three people are in some type of music competition, maybe reality show, this night they had to form a group, write an original song, then they will perform it the next day. The bridge to the chorus is stumping the songwriter of the group, she and the lyricist can't stand the arrogant cowboy singer and at the last minute have a plan to get rid of him. Short and sweet ... make that devious. Nothing rally happens though. (2/5)
8. Letters to LeClaire - A tragic little story set in 1920 where a brother returns home to bury his only sister and last remaining relative, age 23. He finds her correspondence in the house and reads it during the night he spends with the coffin, including his own letters while determining on the morrow to find out just exactly how his sister died. I liked the atmosphere of this one. (4/5)
9. Room Service - This was funny! On the way to the BEA a humourist writer finds herself on the same plane as her agent, a woman who has never smiled in the seven years she's known her. Trying to be friendly, she's rebuffed as the agent in the seat in front of her says she needs a nap then proceeds to recline her seat back as far as possible. The anger builds inside our author until, at the hotel, she ends up killing more than one person. (5/5)
10. Oxymorons - This one is a mystery that went over well with me. A secret service guy for the possible next Republican party leader talks with a close friend about this man's recent attempt on his life, the recent "accidental" death of his wife and many of the deep dark secrets of his past. I thought I knew what was going to happen, something much more sinister than the actual ending but it was a good read. (3/5)
11. The Bureau - A longer story than the others, this is a tale of family betrayal, greed, and murder. Illegal organ transplant harvesting is the theme and once one commits their first crime the next becomes much easier, especially when you keep it all in the family. (3/5)
The idea of Limbo always frightened me though. The what if's I pondered at the young age of 13. "What if I kiss Shaun" "What if I kiss Susie..." "What if I drink Dad's wine?" What if? It as never the idea of hell that scared me because I did not believe hell, it was the idea of limbo and purgatory, being left with the what if and never having resolution. The question we still have at the end of this tale... what if they left never went down, and he never came back up... what if?
What makes it interesting is if you take the quote I gave you from Canto IV, it is about darkness and seeing nothing... the story is reversed in that the protagonist, our narrator, is seeing everything. A true and easily understood idea of LIMBO, "Cold Corpse Carnival" is more than just a "flipped" retelling, this flip and reversal, well... here is the thing, Ms. Connie is tricksy, she is! Is it really flipping what Dante said? Is it a reversal? Let's look at another, the second in the book, and it is from LUST.
"The Shell". Those of you who know me, know my history and are going to say, WTF Kriss? Well I will tell you WTF my people, it is all Connie's fault!! It was a tale about a particular man who is part of a particular group of carnivorous monsters. About the drive of insanity and the unquenchable thirst which no one in their right mind could attribute to the idea of lust. Innocence lost, no wait...ripped and shredded, torn and bled almost dry. Ot is also about crossing the road that has always been in front of you, right smack dab in front of your face. These are just the first two tales!! Keep going it goes up, down, sideways south and east and around and around...
Our author plays with blatant metaphors in such a way I was able to go "oooooooooooooooooooooh" But, if I were to have read this after a certain incident it may have been to much. In fact, I re-read several of these on Saturday, and it was to much subject wise because it was after Newtown and I was raw on emotional levels. However, if you read them at the right time, you won't be disappointed, even if you have never read Connie's writing. She has amassed a style in telling a truly horrifying tale and making it palatable, real, challenging your boundaries of what is enough for you.
My suggestions to prepare for reading this. Do not read it when emotionally distraught. Do not read it when you want to kill your ex-husband for reasons unmentionable as they may incriminate you in the eyes of the law (kidding.. no really .. I am kidding) Read it for what it is meant to be read for. TO MAKE YOU THINK as well as entertain those dark shadowy corners we all have .. you know the ones we hide our kill-kit. If you are a lover of Dante, take this in mind but do not take it to terribly serious in that aspect. She has dumbed it down for the masses, and for one that reads and listens to Dante's for for fun? I saw the cleverness as well. Do you need a formal education get "get" this? Oh heck no! It is all wrapped up and circles round and around spiraling up when you expect to go down, makes you question whether you turned right or left, or were suppose to take the southern route at the cross roads of Route 66. *wink* And wait to read the intro till you are done, and then you will get why I suggest this.
I liked the read, for a bit of mind melting, I would suggest reading the collection. And remember, make sure you take it when you go down into your shelters tonight because you are going to want something more horrific than the world is ending tomorrow, just to keep your mind off things...
Not for the faint of heart, Hellfire & Damnation II is a harrowing collection of short stories that takes the reader on a tour of Dante's 9 Circles of Hell. Each short story pulls you into a twisted tale and never lets you go, building the tension until the very last sentence.
Instead of trying to share a bit about each of the stories, I am going to share my favorites. Picking my top three was difficult, because all the stories were well-written and played on different emotions and fears. But I'll try.
Tempus Fugit: Resurrection Cemetary ... a classic ghost story. I could just imagine sitting around a campfire with flashlights and being terrified while someone told this Resurrection Mary tale. A writer digging for dirt about Resurrection Mary gets more than she bargained for when her sources turn out to be questionable (do they exist?). Then she comes face to face with her story in an eerie sequence of events.
The Champagne Chandelier ... for every person who was bullied in their teen years. Cassie is about to bury her mother, but one guest sends her down an unhappy memory lane. Tormented by her stepsister, she starts receiving demanding phone calls from her during the funeral planning. But all is not as it seems.
The Bureau ... "the worst form of treachery is that of one family member against another, and that is the story of the Tepchin family." Simone has it all figured out, a way to help her son and end up with the man she's always wanted. Organs have become a precious commodity and sell high on the black market, so it's the perfect way to make some money for her son's college tuition and rid herself of extra baggage. Unfortunately, one should always consider just how evil their partner in crime is before they enter into a deal.
With Halloween just around the corner, pick up a copy of Hellfire & Damnation II and keep a light on. It's a quick read, but packs a punch. Actually, several.
Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.
Upfront, I'll say that I don't enjoy short story collections. I find that many short stories leave me unsatisfied; the stories in some collections just don't hang together or have a forced relationship.
But, with this book, I make an exception. Ms. Corcoran Wilson's stories DO hang together.
Perhaps this book works so well because of the stories' structure. The book follows the format of Dante's nine circles of hell (limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud and treachery). Each story is unique (from contemporary to historical to western and paranormal), and depicts one of these nine circles of hell. You want to read on to see what the next circle might bring. Each story feels complete within itself and says something about the human condition. Rather than leaving the reader reeling from the horror, Wilson is at the same time able to show hope.
Most remarkable are the illustrations. We've become used to ebooks possessing only one picture - the cover shot. But this book has relevant drawings throughout. The paperback version is enhanced even further with more pictures.
Since my writing field is autism or romance School Daze, I was skeptical that I'd enjoy noirish stories. I began reading this book dubiously and was won over, needing to finish "just one more" each time I tried to stop reading. Nice going Ms. Wilson!
I'm a sucker for anthologies, so jumped at the chance to take part in a blog tour for a collection of short stories inspired by Dante's Inferno. I've read a few different versions of Inferno, but short stories based on the different levels? How could I resist?
The stories are divided according to the nine circles. There are eleven stories, so some circles have more than one story. I liked that Connie includes a description of each circle, as I couldn't remember what the middle levels were (been awhile since I read Dante's Inferno).
The first story, Cold Corpse Carnival, was a great way to start off the collection! It reminded me of an old-fashioned horror movie, where it sets the stage and then lets your imagination provide the terror. I could see this as a film, complete with ominous music at the end!
The second story, The Shell, was absolutely horrifying. Very intense subject matter, and had me on the edge of my seat! Another standout was Room Service, because one of the characters is an author on her way to BEA. Nice! And A Bridge Too Far had a nice tip-of-the-hat to American Idol type shows.
Short story collections are tough because some will be hit or miss. While I really liked several of the stories in this collection, had deja vu on a couple and one fell flat for me. Overall though, I enjoyed the collection and was impressed that one author could write in so many different styles!
Hellfire and Damnation II is the second in a series of short stories that take a bit from Dante's 9 Circles of Hell. This collection of 11 stories are very diverse. They range from the wild west to present day, it has a variety of spooky elements, murder, comedy and the paranormal with pictures at the beginning of each story that gives the reader a peek into what the story is about.add a bit of insight to the story. Without giving away any of the stories plots, I will say that this is a collection to read if you enjoy a bit of scariness to your reading. The book was not real long and each story was short enough to hold my interest as I am generally not a short story reader. I read it in a few nights and if I was a person prone to nightmares, these stories in their creepiness would have given me some..I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.
I received an ebook copy for review and was not monetarily compensated for my review.
Hellfire and Damnation II is the sequel to Connie Corcoran Wilson's first book of short stories that she published in 2011. This book is another tour of Dante's 'Nine Circles of Hell' from his Inferno. It features eleven original short stories: from the 132-year-old corpse of Norwegian immigrant Ole Monson seeking revenge against the living for the desecration of his final resting place in 'Cold Corpse Carnival' to the most intimate betrayal suffered between two brothers in 'The Bureau'. Each story highlights its particular Circle in a novel way, but is partially based on fact as explained by the author at the end.
I really enjoyed this book - it was suitably horrific for me. Each story is well-crafted and believable, and I found myself very satisfied with each story's pacing. I give Hellfire and Damnation II an A+! and I look forward to reading more books by Connie Corcoran Wilson in the very near future!
I love scary books. Among the first adult books I ever read were Stephen King and Dean Koontz. However, these days, I find it hard to find good scary books---ones that don't make me feel like I've read them before---and then I was asked to read "Hellfire & Damnation II."
Connie (Corcoran) Wilson takes us by the hand and leads us through the 9 Circles of Hell, whispering to us the tales of those we find there and the events that have led them to this nightmarish place. From the first story set in Limbo ("Cold Corpse Carnival", which gave me yet another reason to not want to be buried!) to the final circle of the Treacherous and "The Bureau," the reader will be checking behind doors, under the bed, and sleeping with the lights on
Connie pens "Hellfire & Damnation II" in a plot that will really leave the horror with you. The illustrations are just unbelievably good and will get you really thinking about what you just read. I was totally satisfied with the amount of detail within each "circle of hell" she writes about. Now I really need to find the first book in the series to catch up with. Highly recommended for all who love the thrill of horror.
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author which was provided for an honest review.
I have to say this book is not to be attempted by the weak of heart. With each short story it starts off gripping your attention. Each story represents a different ring of hell and are so befitting. Be forewarned this book will leave a lasting impression. I highly recommend this book for anyone with a taste for the morbid or intense. You will not be disappointed.
I've read the first half of the book, and I really enjoyed "Cold Corpse Carnival." That story was definitely worth a read. Pick this collection up if only for that story. I'll post a full review when I've finished the second half of the book.
Read number 3 first, loved it so much read number 2. Great short stories based on real events which makes it the more interesting. Loved the story called 'Resurrection Cemetery' and 'A Spark on the Prairie'. Shall have to read number 1 now.