I got advanced reading copies for DarkFuse’s October releases and I knew I was in for a treat. Nor only do I know that DarkFuse puts out the best horror books every month, but October would bring the release of a novella by one of my favorite horror authors in DarkFuse’s catalogue: Sandy DeLuca. When I saw this, I could not wait to dive right into “Hell’s Door” by this talented and under-recognized author.
Someone, or something, is preying on the working girls in the back streets of Providence. While there is no hard evidence, all signs point to a bar owner, Ramsay Wolfe, as the mastermind behind the murders if not the murderer herself. Detective Lacy Powers and her partner John Demmings are tasked with finding the killer and bringing her to justice. These two must pit their combined wits and courage against Ramsay in a deadly game of cat and mouse.
This outward pursuit of the killer is just the tip of the iceberg. Lacy has been moving from city to city, and case to case, for years now and never seems to settle in one place for too long in an attempt to run from her past. John’s marriage recently fell apart after the death of his daughter yet the feelings he still carries for Laura may be tied up in the investigation somehow even as he feels a growing attraction for Lacy. Then there is the mysterious drifter, Gabriel, who is chronicling the murders and may be working with Ramsay but whose role is not easily defined. When all of these elements come crashing together amidst the human castoffs of society that are usually overlooked and forgotten, there is no telling who will survive to tell the story and just what parts of the story are true.
“Hell’s Door” is a fairly in-your-face, brutal story by an author that I have come to think of as more of a suspenseful and atmospheric horror author. This is not a bad thing. DeLuca shows a different side to her writing in this story that is all the more terrifying by being visceral. There is still a sense of the subtlety the DeLuca has shown in her previous works but there is a much harder and even darker edge to this story than in her other works that I have read. She still manages to layer on the horror of the story while grounding it in the grim reality of our world and exploring the seedy underside of society.
While the other books I have read by DeLuca have made me want to sleep with my lights on, “Hell’s Door” made me want to lock all my doors and hide in the safety of my home with the lights turned off to avoid drawing attention. DeLuca achieves a rare combination of combining horrifying imagery that made my stomach turn with a far deeper terror that resonated in my mind. “Hell’s Door” shows that DeLuca is a true master of horror that can work in large doses of sexuality and brutality into a story without having to rely on these to make the story work. The scariest thing about DeLuca is just how good of a writer she really is and it is sad that her work does not receive more recognition than it does. DarkFuse consistently puts out the best in horror in today’s market and Sandy DeLuca is the queen of horror among Darkfuse’s authors. There are very few writers today who can make me feel a story to the darkest depths of my mind and DeLuca is one of those who has succeeded in doing this in every book of hers that I have read. Simply put, DeLuca is one of the few authors that can scare the hell out of me.
I would like to send a special thank you to DarkFuse and NetGalley for this advanced reading copy. "Hell's Door" will be available from DarkFuse in October 2013. Please follow me on Twitter @josenher.