“For thousands of years a terrible enemy has been waiting. Now the gates are open and humanity’s extinction is about to begin”.
The Gates is the first book in a series called Hell on Earth brought to us from the twisted mind of British author, Iain Rob Wright. It was published in October 2015. Iain Rob Wright is the best selling author of loads of books in the horror and suspense genre. Some of his most popular are the critically acclaimed The Final Winter. The bestselling ASBO and the apocalyptic Ravage and Savage. You can read our previous reviews of Ravage and Savage by following the links.
If those reviews aren’t enough to convince you to check out his books, check out the quote on The Gates by one of our favourite authors, David Moody – “Iain Rob Wright is sick and twisted”.
That has to do it for you, so, on to the story, The Gates.
The Gates is a little different to the other books I have read by Ian Rob Wright in that it is much more expansive. Global actually. In the books I have read they are generally following a single small group of people, or individuals even. Here he takes on most of the world. We start off by meeting a few peoples. Elizabeth Creasy is out taking her dog for a walk when she comes across a strange, shining stone.
We meet Rick, a one hit wonder/failed pop star who has became a recluse in his large house. His brother Keith turns up. We quickly get insight into why this is neither a normal occurrence or a welcome visit. To say Rick and Keith aren’t close is a massive understatement. During a bout of bickering between Rick and Keith, the news headlines switch to a story about a lady called Elizabeth Creasy who has been found dead, badly mutilated.
We head off to London where we meet a couple of reporters, David and Mina, rushing to get to Oxford Street where another stone has appeared. We hear of how a bus crashed into earlier that evening. The driver got out to investigate and died of a massive heartache. We also hear of how hundreds of these same mysterious stones have appeared all over the country. Mina herself notes how she feels uneasy in the stones presence and soon the large crowd gathered around the cordoned off stone starts to get edgy and riotous. As the streets of London explode into violence, Mina and David, happy they have enough coverage, look to get as far away as possible.
Tony Cross is introduced next. We find him in the desert, on the Iraq/Syria border. Tony is a Sergeant in the British Army, serving under a douche of an officer, Lieutenant Ellis. They, and their unit, are patrolling the border near a weak spot, waiting to catch any Islamic State rebels who try to cross. Right where the unit are dug in, there is a stone like the others found in the UK. It seems these stones are not just a national issue. This is further realised when we head off to New York where a young lady called Samantha and a friendly stranger called Samuel are making conversation while watching a strange stone in Central Park.
So far the characters of the book have speculated on the stones origins by thinking them to be a terrorist attack or even an alien invasion. They are wrong though and we are just about to find out exactly how wrong they are. The stones are glowing, dangerously throbbing. The light above the stones raises high forming an arch of sorts. There is a translucent layer. They look like doorways or gates. They are. And where do they lead to, you ask? Well, that is of little concern. It is where they lead from that matters right now.
The first thing to come through the gate is a giant of sorts. Twenty feet tall, rippling with dark beauty and wearing just a robe. Kind of angelic, but dark. How dark is shown very rapidly as the nearest person to the giant gets picked up and torn in two, like a Christmas cracker. He is not alone though and is followed through by a monstrous army. All hell breaks loose as the crowd attempt to escape but it is to no avail. People get trampled and left for dead in the chaos that has ensued. Those who don’t get hurt by their fellow humans are soon caught up with.
As New York descends into chaos, we head off to a US Coast Guard vessel near the vicinity. Captain Granger and his trusted second, Frank, are trying to work out what is happening on land. They believe New York has been hit by terrorists.
There is unrest among the crew on what to do but protecting Americans and America is their calling so they prepare to head in to the harbour to offer assistance. They head in and send rescue boats out into the Hudson river, where people are launching themselves in to try to reach safety away from land. It is from some of their rescued civilians they learn that New York is not under attack from terrorists, but from monsters. As one of them say “That black stone opened some kind of gate and the Devil came through. It’s Lucifer dude. The end of the world, and we’re all screwed”.
He is not wrong. As the world rapidly comes to terms with it’s impending doom, the last remnants of society buckle in and try to survive. Captain Granger, and his crew, set sail for England to try and rescue his kids who are visiting there. Rick, Keith and a handful of others hide in his house. Mina and David hide out in their office while trying to push out information to the public on anything they learn. Sergeant Cross finds himself fighting alongside his previous enemy as survival of humanity finally takes precedent over fighting over race, creed or oil. But, with the armed forces destroyed, the police force in ruins and the last of society cowering in dark corners, is there any hope?
Like a powerful virus, humanity always seems to find a way to keep going. Rumours of small victories start coming through the only remaining news source, The Slough Echo, ran by David and Mina. Mentions of the creatures dislike of iron, even a small rumour that maybe somewhere in Syria, a gate was forced to close. With thousands of gates though and a seemingly endless supply of demons arriving the light of hope at the end of the tunnel is small. The tunnel is long and it seems unlikely that anyone will be alive to make it through there.
The Gates should be the dictionary definition of a page turner. The whole book moves at absolute breakneck speed. The action starts almost from paragraph one and when it hits fully, it is bloody, brutal and relentless. Somehow though, despite refusing to give the reader a second to breathe, Iain Rob Wright manages to fill out the characters making them seem important and making you care. That is one of the biggest wins of The Gates. Some characters life spans in this book amount to a few pages yet in that time, you find yourself feeling disappointment, and occasionally delight, at their sudden demise.
It is also those sudden demises that really throw your reading. You are introduced to a character, you learn about them, you maybe feel like this is going to be their story. Then, bang. They are gone. Obliterated in grotesque fashion by a horde of burning demons or crushed in the hand of a dark angelic creature. You start getting a little mistrustful of the writer when he then introduces the next character. Almost reading in trepidation. It causes suspense in a book where the main vein is horrific action. Another string to it’s bow.
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Being set just before and during an apocalyptic event, we get to witness the fall of humanity in spectacularly gory fashion. This isn’t coming into a book with half the populace already wiped out. This is closely watching as they get wiped out. Watching bones smashed and skulls crushed. Eyes torn out from their sockets, children being stamped to death and families being torn apart emotionally before usually being torn apart physically soon after.
The Gates hits you hard and fast and keeps up the pace throughout. It is gory, twisted and exciting. The characters are interesting and the question of “where do we go from here” absolutely forces you to reach straight for book 2 of the Hell on Earth series as soon as you finish book one.
The Gates by Iain Rob Wright
The Final Score - 9/10