First published back in July of 2018, British author Rich Hawkins’ novel ‘Maniac Gods’ delivered a dark and gloomy vision of Lovecraftian dimension lurking somewhere beyond the grasps of our world.

DLS Synopsis:
Something terrible had happened in the village of Penbrook. After receiving a cryptic message from his ex-wife, Albie Samways had gone straight to Penbrook, racing through the rainy night, hoping his daughter, Milly, was alright. But when he arrived at Kathleen’s house, neither of them was there. The house was deserted, as was every house in Penbrook. The entire village seemed to have just disappeared.

Albie’s memories of that night were vague. But what he remembered before he blacked out was the stuff of nightmares. A man covered in tumours, emaciated and crawling on all fours. Immense monsters formed of black flesh and squirming appendages, glimpsed beyond the gaps between houses. And the man in the bronze mask. The one who started it all, the leader of the Flayed.

It’s now five years since that fateful day. Five years since he lost his daughter. The memories still haunt him, mixed up in a fog of his mind’s confusion. He can’t make sense of any of it. The madness of what he saw that night. But most of all, the bitter loss of his beloved daughter.

And then, seemingly from nowhere, his beautiful daughter, Milly, is back. Albie can’t understand it. Can barely believe it’s really her. After all these years, she’s back. Although somehow, she hasn’t aged over the five years that she’s been gone. And she speaks to Albie of the terrible sights she’s witnessed in the spaces between spaces. A place where gods and monsters reside in a void of darkness, waiting to cross over into our world.

They’re not safe. No one is safe. These twisted aberrations have breached the void and now the creatures, these gods and demons of another place and time, are on the brink of stepping into our world. The bronze masked being from Albie’s nightmarish memories is leading his despicable disciples. He’s planted his seed, and now he awaits the beginning of the new world.

A world of gods and monsters…

DLS Review:
Rich Hawkins has a particular style about his work. One could say he’s almost carving out his own niche subgenre. A sort of Lovecraftian Apocalypse. And it’s one that’s drenched in a suffocating blanket of gloom and bitter despair.

The author initially made somewhat of a name for himself with his ‘Plague Chronicles’. A trilogy of post-apocalyptic novels that mixed body horror akin to ‘The Thing’ (1982), within a post-apocalyptic backdrop. If you’ve read Adam Baker’s ‘Outpost’ (2011) then you’ll know the sort of dark body horror I’m describing here.

In ‘Maniac Gods’ Hawkins has taken a further step into this maddening void. The apocalyptic threat is just as present within this tale, however, here we have terrible, ancient gods and monsters reaching out from a dimension hidden between spaces.

Not only that, but Hawkins’ writing style has adopted a bleaker and more depressing air to it. Everything seems to be cast in a shadow of gloom. It’s as oppressive as it is soul-destroying. A purposeful pendant to describe every inch of the story with a downcast tone.

This atmosphere accentuates the bleakness of the horrors awaiting perfectly. The only other writer I know who’s perfected this style is William Holloway. An author who fills his audience with dread before peeling back the readers’ eyelids to expose the full horror of his nightmarish visions.

This same desire to seep under the skin of the reader with haunting, terrifying images and barely glimpsed suggestions of abhorrent ungodly creations, is spread across the length of this book. For the first half of the novel, our exposure to these hideous monstrosities is through almost short, sharp glimpses. Flashes of horror that linger but aren’t substantiated further than the briefest of moments.

However, as the plot spirals towards an inevitably horrifying conclusion, these nightmarish visions become more real. The terrifying is suddenly before us. The horrific is preparing to swallow us whole.

There are aspects in this novel which some might find difficult reading. In particular, what the leader of the Flayed did to Milly whilst she was gone from our world. And the gut-wrenching moment it is revealed to Albie. No spoilers here, but fuck, is that revelation a difficult read. A moment when your stomach tightens, and your skin goes cold.

As a bleak, unrelenting, and downright nightmarish read this absolutely delivers. The Lovecraftian imagery is depicted with an artist’s skill at painting depictions of the unviewable. Hawkins skilfully lets your mind conjure up your own vision of these creations, only hinting at the body, suggesting the corrupt magnificence of the ungodly beings. The rest is down to your mind to flesh out.

For a dark and depressing winter read, this novel fits the bill.

The novel runs for a total of 182 pages.

© DLS Reviews


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