The fourth part of British author, Iain Rob Wright’s Hell on Earth series is called Defiance. It was published in October 2018 and carries on the series which sees mankind face utter annihilation at the hand’s of demons and fallen angels sent directly from the depths of hell.
Iain Rob Wright is the brilliant, and slightly twisted, mind behind a host of strong horror and suspense. He has penned the best selling ASBO, the acclaimed The Final Winter and the dark apocalyptic novels, Ravage and Savage to name a few. You can read our thoughts on those two by following the links. I have enjoyed a lot of his work over the last few years but none more so than the Hell on Earth series.
The series opener, The Gates, is an action-packed, blood-soaked page turner and it’s follow up, Legion, was almost on a par with it. Extinction met the bar again with plenty of destruction and some really powerful emotional threads. These first three books are so addictive that I read all three in less than a week. I found it impossible to not instantly reach for the next, as soon as finishing one. You can read more glowing praise of The Gates, Legion and Extinction by following the links.
Despite how much I enjoyed the first three books, it has taken me a while to get time to start Defiance. Purely due to having a backlog of other books to read but the time has finally come and I am pleased to say that it was worth the wait.
Humanity’s last chance could be a new beginning.
We pick up pretty much where we left the last book. In hell. Vamps, Lucas, Daniel, Damien, Aymun and Rick went through the gate, ventured through hell and are about to be graced by the presence behind all of this chaos. The Red King. A beast so monstrous and frightening that even the fallen angels, Lucas and Daniel, cower in fear. As realisation dawns on Lucas, he orders everyone to run, claiming the beats can not be killed in hell. He may not be killable anywhere but it is too late for some of them. Daniel is crushed to nothing in one of the Red Lord’s great hands.
The weaselly politician, Windsor, appears offering to serve the Red Lord, continuing his streak of cowardice before suddenly finding himself spewing up his own spine and falling to the floor in a heap. Lucas manages to open a gate and get a few of them out but in a last effort to save Vamps, he opens a gate and accidentally pulls both Vamps and The Red Lord through it. Hell is empty. The Red Lord is on his way to us.
Back on Earth, we catch up with the demon Lord, Caligula. While the battle in Portsmouth raged on, Caligula lead the army that took the north of Britain. He is toying with a few remaining stragglers held up. He could wipe them out whenever he wants but is enjoying taking his time. One of his faithful servants tells him the news that the humans have won in Portsmouth. He warns of a great human army that will soon advance North. At first concerned, Caligula soon changes to relishing the news. An opportunity to not only wipe out the rets of mankind, but to gain the Red Lord’s favour.
We meet up with Ted. Ted is a loner, heading North. He is a survivor, strong and capable and works alone. A fact shown when he encounters a group of demons and takes them out. Well, almost. One demon slips threw his defences and as it looks like Ted’s story is about to be one of the shortest of encounters, a gun shot rings out. The demon drops and we meet Hannah, a soldier, now surviving alone. While Ted is grateful, kind of, he is a loner and he quickly wants to leave Hannah behind and continue his journey North. Hannah, however, is the polar opposite of Ted. To say she is an extrovert is probably putting it mildly. She also intends on staying with Ted, much to his annoyance.
We meet Dr Chris Kamiyo. Another lone survivor who had just escaped when the demons had attacked at an earlier hold up. He seems to suffer from guilt, often referring to how “he ran” and we get the idea he may have ran leaving others behind. We also learn of how he threw a woman into the path of a monster to save himself. Despite this, the doc is not a bad guy. Instinct may him do what he did and he suffers from guilt for it. A sign of remorse and regret – the traits of good people.
While raiding a house, Kamiyo gets into a fight with more demons and finds himself having to run. Again. Kamiyo heads deep into the woods of Kielder Forest Park in Northumberland and starts to lose the chasing death squad. As he runs, he comes to an area where he notices a castle – a reasonably well kept tourist attraction. He heads towards it. Walled, with a portcullis – he can’t believe his luck. That is until the gun presses against his back with an order of “don’t move”.
Meanwhile Ted, still being followed by Hannah, comes across a school bus and a sign for Kielder Forest Park Outdoor Activity Centre. The bus is empty of children, and, thankfully also empty of bodies. As they notice demons on the horizon, they have no choice but to head into the woods.
Kamiyo has found the source of the gun and to his surprise is at a camp. The camp is at the Outdoor Activity Centre in the woods. Amazingly it is an almost untouched haven, being hidden so far away. It is inhabited by a bus load of young children and a handful of adults. The arrival of a doctor is very welcomed as their is illness in the camp. As a camp, they have been hidden away from all of the horrors of the outside world and are wholly unprepared when a handful of demons attack the camp – probably the ones who had been hunting the doctor.
Within the heat of the battle, they are saved when a grumpy old man and his extroverted stalker appear. Yep, it is Hannah and Ted. The camp, hidden away for so long, struggle to come to terms with all the new arrivals. They are reinforced now though and prepare to defend themselves as they realise Caligula’s army is hunting for them in the woods. Good thing they have a castle.
Preparations commence in preparing the castle for a battle. Perhaps a final battle. A final act of Defiance. A few adults, a collection of children and some high walls against the might of Hell. What chance do they have? As two final visitors appear, we find out quite how difficult it is going to be for them. Vamps and Aymun arrive separately. Vamps, appearing out of a newly opened gate, seems changed. Torn. The Red Lord came through the gate with him so is surely not far behind. Or maybe he is here already. You know what to do if you want to find out!
Once again I really enjoyed Defiance. It is a real page turner, jam packed full of tension and despair. Little glimmers of hope come through occasionally but you often find them backed up by moments of horror. Little reminders of the desperation faced. After the large open scale nature of the earlier books, I very much like the more contained story line. While there are nods to the rest of the world, especially int he ending, most of this story is contained in a few acres of woodland in Northumberland and it works well. The siege like battle at the end is amazing as are the characters, particularly Ted and Hannah and how their relationship unfolds.
Aside from the obvious storyline, there are some excellent ideas explored here. The psychology of the kids, some sheltered, some understanding, is fascinating. Kamiyo’s desperation to help, perhaps to erase his own guilt is also interesting. The idea that time on earth appears to be changing some of the demons too. Like they are remembering what it is to be human is one I really hope gets explored further in the next story.
Defiance is another brilliant entry into an exciting series and I cannot wait to read more.
Defiance by Iain Rob Wright (Hell on Earth Series)
The Final Score - 8/10