A suited man runs from a burning tower in Melbourne as bodies rain down upon him.
Before the city’s millions can compose, he boards a train into the countryside. Hiding his identity and changing his appearance, the man finds his way to Sulley Ridge, a lawless town in the heart of the harsh Victorian outback.
The following day, a burned man wakes up in a hospital bed. Surging with rage, he speaks a name. Within an hour, the suited man’s face is across every screen in the country. It’s the greatest manhunt Australia has ever seen.
But as he tries to camouflage in Sulley Ridge, he soon realises the town has its own problems. Under the iron fist of a violent leader, the locals are trapped within slow and torturous decay…
As we learn more about the night of the burning tower, the connection between the suited man and the burned man threatens to leave a trail of destruction across the state.
Here is the story of a man on the run from his past, as the line between sanity and evil is danced upon.
Here is the tale of This Strange Hell.
Purchase Link — mybook.to/thisstrangehell
This is the second book I have read by CJ Sutton, the first being Dortmund Hibernate. You can find my review for that here. I was expecting something similar (Dortmund scared the pants off me) but this book has a very different tone.
This Strange Hell is very atmospheric, the opening chapter sees life being compared to a game of pool. Everything is described with details you wouldn’t necessarily think about, but it certainly builds a vivid picture in your mind.
The book starts with a tragic event. The Barron Tower Burn. A man is running from the tower, trying to disappear. What has he got to hide? There are two main story lines running through this book. The burning tower and the events in Sulley Ridge. Sulley Ridge is where the majority of the story takes place. A lawless town in the literal middle of nowhere, at night it’s run by a gang who rule through fear and violence. The man finds himself in the middle of the problem, trapped by his own desire to hide.
Interestingly both the two main male characters are often only referred to as ‘The Man’ or ‘The Burned Man’. This makes them seem vague, I couldn’t get a handle on their characters, but that seems to be the point. Not being referred to by name gives them a sense of anonymity. It keeps the mystery going. What did happen that night? Who is truly responsible and why? There don’t appear to be any clear motives initially.
There is a good cast of side characters as well. Mostly trying to carve out a life for themselves in the best way possible. They are in a miserable situation, however, there seems to be an underlying feeling that things could get better. They are a tight knit community and they look out for each other.
This isn’t a book for you if you don’t like violence. There is plenty of that along the way but it is all relevant to the story. All be it hard to read at times. I found the book to be a slow burn, that isn’t a bad thing. I enjoyed the pace, it allowed me to try and work out where things were going. Once more information came to light I did work out what had actually happened, this didn’t diminish my enjoyment. I liked the fact my theory was proved correct in the end.
This is a dark and twisty mystery with plenty of bumps along the way. If that’s your thing you are going to really enjoy this! Many thanks to CJ Sutton and Rachel for inviting me onto the blog tour. I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
C.J. Sutton is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. He holds a Masters in journalism and creative writing and supports the value of study through correspondence. His fictional writing delves into the unpredictability of the human mind and the fears that drive us.
As a professional writer C. J. Sutton has worked within the hustle and bustle of newsrooms, the competitive offices of advertising and the trenches of marketing. But his interest in creating new characters and worlds has seen a move into fiction, which has always pleaded for complete attention. Dortmund Hibernate was his debut novel, released by Crooked Cat Books on July 18. It is available now – mybook.to/dortmundhibernate
His new novel, This Strange Hell, will be released on March 15.
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