Title: Hell on Earth (Hellscape: Book Two)
Author: Ally Blue
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 262 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Two prisoners. One forgotten planet. A secret that twists justice beyond all recognition.
All Sandman wants is to get away from his violent past on Hell’s End, but trouble follows him, leaving him with more blood on his hands and a one-way ticket aboard a crewless prison transport on a pre-set course for Deimos.
By the time he realizes the transport’s actual destination is a mystery, there’s only one other prisoner he can trust. He doesn’t like it, or the things Vijay makes him feel. Caring makes you weak. Makes you easy to hurt. And Sandman’s never been easy, or weak.
Vijay is focused on what he’s always done best. Survival. But Sandman is an enigma, fearless in battle yet terrified of tight spaces. Vijay finds himself longing to break through the fierce young warrior’s shell.
After crash landing on an uncharted planet, they stumble on the justice system’s dirty little secret—the Farm, where prisoners go in but never come out. When the Farm’s threat gets personal, Sandman and Vijay each test the limits of endurance to protect the man at his back—and in his heart.
Review: Hell on Earth is book two of the Hellscape series by talented author Ally Blue. In this story, we follow Sandman from Book One. He escapes from Hell’s End, wanting to start a new life on Mars. Unfortunately for him, his temper and knack for getting himself stuck right in the thick of trouble cuts his trip short. No sooner does he dig his fingers into the soil and take a sniff of fresh grass than he’s captured, sentenced for a crime he didn’t commit, and is exiled to one of the moons around Mars…or so he thinks.
When three Martian soldiers attempt to help Sandman and two other “criminals” escape their fate, their futures take an unexpected turn. Landing on Earth, they are faced with a barren land with acid rain, which actually burns the skin, and soil which wouldn’t be fit for growing weeds. He and the lone other survivor of their ship’s crash meet a group of renegades who fight against the experimentation and slavery of the Earth colony, called the Farm, designed to house the criminals sent to other destinations.
That’s about all I can really say without giving away any spoilers. And all of this happens within the first few chapters.
True to form, Ms. Blue has developed a rich world filled with its own rules and cultural practices. The landscape, language, and even the description of the various rooms draw the reader into the environment, unique and utterly creative, mixing sci-fi fantacism with believable human behaviors and emotions.
The love between Sandman and Vijay evolves slowly over the course of the book; Sandman’s cement exterior slowly chipping away as the story unfolds. While both men have reason to keep their guard up, each realizes they need the other to survive. And as the story progresses, they (and the reader) learn that they need each other in order to be whole and happy. This tension between their experiences which have given them every reason not to trust others, and the inexplicable connection which ignites like kindling on fire, draws the reader in, forcing us to root for our protagonists to find their way to each other.
And there’s a rich cast of secondary characters, each fully developed and adding to the natural flow of the story. Just like in her Bay City Paranormal Investigation series, where there were a ton of other characters who we come to love, Hell on Earth also exposes us to a wide range of people who we come to love as the story unfolds.
Of course, there are a fair share of villains too, and Ms. Blue gives them their just endings with her telltale gruesome justice.
The pace of the action was fast. Ms. Blue doesn’t allow much time for readers to catch their breath before Sandman and Vijay find themselves in another dangerous situation, yet they do manage to find time to explore their physical and emotional connection in satisfying ways without interrupting the tight action plot line.
All in all, this is yet another book by Ms. Blue that is a must read. And if you haven’t read Hell’s End, you’ll want to in order to understand Sandman and all that he’d experienced prior to meeting him in Hell on Earth.
You can buy Hell on Earth (Hellscape: Book Two) here: