"Hell's Beginning" Book Review

Written by Tony Jones

Published by HellBound Books Publishing

Written by John T. M. Herres
2018, 253 pages, Fiction
Released on 23rd October, 2018


Hell’s Beginning opens with a woman tied up, naked, and about to be tortured in an abandoned warehouse, followed by a quick flashback on how she ended up there. This scene sets the general tone for what is both a violent and unpleasant novel.  If you’re got the stomach for women being routinely tortured; having their breasts sliced off, limbs nailed to the floor, bones broken, or worse, then you may enjoy this grim read more than I did.

Getting back to the torture; in the opening chapter, the story is told in the first person “I” tense seen from the point of view of the killer. Following episodes, the second being 'Sharon Burlowski', are written in the third person and we are provided with a mini backstory on the events which led Sharon to be trussed up in the abandoned warehouse. This is an alternative version of events to what the killer gives in the opening chapter. Before long, other characters are introduced, all of which have some connection to the kidnapped Sharon; the chapter 'Jer and Tammy' features two guys who discover Sharon’s abandoned car and purse. Suspecting something is up, they go looking for her and the first half of the novel concerns the fallout from this investigation.

This book had numerous unsavoury scenes.  There is one in particular I found troubling; in order to pair up with a guy, a young woman, Beth, leaves her younger sister, Tammy – who we are told is fourteen – with Jer. We later learn Tammy is twelve. Beth warns Jer, “You be a gentleman,” but obviously she must have known what his intentions were or is naïve beyond the point of stupidity. This is particularly untasteful, as we’re in the head of Jer, who is thinking about how far he can go with this child and obsessing about her panties whilst she sits on the swings. It is unpleasant, unnecessary and adds absolutely nothing to the main plotline of the book.

Before long bodies pile up, there is more torture and the plot jumps from character to character. The problem with this is that all the voices are just too similar and none of the characters have any real spark and are one dimensional. As the plot develops, Beth and Mike become bigger characters for different reasons; both have crossed the serial killer whilst hunting for Sharon. As a result, they play a major part in the second half of the outlandish plot and are sucked into the mayhem. However, I have little sympathy for either of them, particularly Beth.

At a certain point Hell’s Beginning does make a major plot diversion. I’m not going to give any spoilers, but you can make up your own mind whether this is a clever twist or just plain dumb. Either way, it is never properly explained and is both unsatisfactory and underdeveloped.

Horror DNA reviews horror novels and so very violent publications are going to be sent our way. I have no particular issues with strong violence at all. When done properly, such as with John Hunt’s The Tracker – which I gave the maximum five stars earlier in the year – which includes a live rat sewn inside a victim’s stomach, it can work brutally well. However, Hell’s Beginning lacks the class, clever storyline and unrelenting tension of The Tracker and seems to wallow in repetitive graphic violence and torture, particularly on women, as its main selling point. This novel lacks the strong plot required, or any kind of suspense, to balance with its bloodletting and before long I found myself not wanting to read some of these scenes.

Fans of graphic violence may well give Hell’s Beginning a better review than this, but it is not a book I would recommend.


Overall: onestar Cover
Buy from Amazon US
Buy from Amazon US
Buy from Amazon UK

This page includes affiliate links where Horror DNA may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Tony Jones
Staff Reviewer
Such is Tony’s love of books, he has spent well over twenty years working as a school librarian where he is paid to talk to kids about horror. He is a Scotsman in exile who has lived in London for over two decades and credits discovering SE Hinton and Robert Cormier as a 13-year-old for his huge appetite for books. Tony previously spent five years writing The Greatest Scrum That Ever Was, a history book very few people bought. In the past he has written for Horror Novel Reviews and is a regular contributor to The Ginger Nuts of Horror website, often specialising in YA horror.
Other articles by this writer



Join Us!

Hit the buttons below to follow us, you won't regret it...