Note: While I promised myself I’d do a spoiler-free review of Infernal, I broke down a few paragraphs in, as you’ll see. It’s just not possible to discuss such an awesome and rich novel such as this without going into detail about a few things. I’ll do my best to reel it back in, but there is a few points that may escape here and there. I apologize ahead of time, but do hope you enjoy.
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T. Joseph Browder has been on my radar since listening to an episode of The Library Police Podcast. Since then, I’ve made it a point to stay on top of his self published works as he released them. As of this date, that is only a small handful of works, but the content within them are well worth your time. Starting with the short story collection Dark Matters, which offers up a series of tales that range in genre, yet are sure to please anyone’s taste. Plague came next, another short story that took us to the lengths a father would go to in order to protect his daughters in a zombie apocalypse. And most recently, the subject of this book report, Infernal, which I consider to be a drastic game changer for Mr. Browder.
Even from the short description on the author’s website, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened Infernal up on my Kindle. This uncertainty only served to increase my reaction to the whirlwind ride the first six chapters started me on. Not at all what I was expecting after having read Mister Browder’s previous works. There is more action in between the pages of Infernal than in most 2 hour movies I’ve watched recently at the theater. It picks up in chapter two and doesn’t let up as our tale unfolds.
Our main protagonist is Richard Farris, a man living alone in the wilderness with his beloved Saint Bernard. He’s a man with a past, one that involves several years in prison for murder and lots of time to improve himself. He’s self sufficient, seems to have a good head on his shoulders and keeps to himself. When he finds a wounded female in a horrible winter storm, his life is turned upside down as everything he knows is stretched to the limits, and then torn wide open.
When the action in this tale hits, it hits full on and doesn’t really let up. There is also a lot of time spent in detailing the types of weapons every character in the story is using. That small point throws me off every time Browder goes into detail with rifles, pistols, missiles and so on. And while the action does move along smoothly, the story really didn’t grab me until we get into explanations of just what is going on.
Getting into the finer details of what is going on – this is what I love. Mr. Browder explains on his website that he has spent years researching this novel, and while I won’t bother fact-checking him, his explanations into how devices and their mechanics operate is something I absolutely love. Taking science-fact and combining it with the author’s imagination to produce quality science fiction is something I have no issue investing my time in.
If you’re a follower of T. Joseph Browder’s previous works that I mentioned above, you’ll also get some nods to those as well. One in particular that I was head-over-heels with is Hammerfall. If you’ve read two shorts concerning the world of Hammerfall in Dark Matters, then you’ll recognize the name. But that’s the genius of tackling such a large topic as the Multi-verse. Sure, DC and Marvel Comics have done it for years and years. Stephen King even had his stories linked between our world and Roland the Gunslinger’s lands. T Joseph Browder joins the ranks and takes it a notch further by implementing such a fantastic logic to what is happening in his version of multiple dimensions, and he does it very well.
In comparison, I’ve tried to read the novels by Terry Pratchet and Stephen Baxter, The Long Earth saga. I could not get into those because they were so dry and lifeless to me. Not so with Infernal. Browder knows how to string along his plot, how to make use of his settings and characters and information so as to craft a tale that grabs you by the hand and makes you want to run along beside it as it happens. Another thing that sets Browder apart from certain authors is his plain, clean style of writing. He writes with a style that is approachable and flows smoothly.
The mythology that is constructed here, laid out and gone over with a fine-toothed comb. This is my cup of tea. World(s) building as its best and I have the pleasure of sitting back and reading it in the comfort of my favorite chair in the bright glow of my Kindle in the quiet of the night. The characters Browder has brought to life, the Prime’s, the Rips, the laws and governing sciences right down to the exact numbers. Yet he’s left just enough mystery out there to continue the series on and leave the reader wanting more.
And while all of this is wrapped up in a nice little self-contained novel, it’s still enough to make you anxious over having to wait for the next book. Browder has gone from writing short stories to developing a tale like this over the course of years, getting his ideas ironed out and formed into perfect little pieces to place upon the chess board. He’s ready to bust heads and kick down doors across the genre board. I realize I keep mentioning science fiction, but just as he did with Dark Matters (again, I hate to keep comparing it to a collection of short stories, but …) he proves he can write anything that is thrown at him. There are gory, horrific scenes, violence, science fiction tones, fantasy elements, religious ideas, dramatic themes … throw a dart several times and you’ll not hit the same genre twice.
So, T. Joseph Browder’s Infernal saga. It’s great! You should pick it up, give it a shot and I highly doubt you’ll regret the decision. It isn’t without teeny tiny flaws (the details in weapons becomes annoying and a distraction). But that is not something that should keep you away from this novel. The world building, the mythology and the character dynamics make up for anything else that might be called a short coming. Go! Now! Pick up this book and enjoy it!
* This review is also available on Goodreads *