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A perfect read before the end of the world – Hellfire & Damnation II (review)

Hellfire & Damnation II by Connie Corcoran Wilson

A unique blend from the award winning author, Connie Corcoran Wilson. A world divided loosely upon the structure and conventions of Dante’s and his Nine Circles of Hell as defined infamous literary piece, Dante’s InfernoHell and Damnation II is the second collection of short stories organized. presented within and labeled in her presentation of the circles as Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed & Avarice , Wrath & Sullenness  Heresy, Political Corruption and The Treacherous which lead you in it’s own merry way through the author’s perfunctionary vision of Dante’s Inferno.

The short stories are crisp and cleanly written, each dark and with a different flavor all of it’s own. Personally, I suggest you not read the intro before reading the full collection. I think it would serve you to be introduced by the strength of the stories of this award winning author on their own. Each with it’s own creep factor! Oh and you guys know how I like creeptastic tales! These are by far not a “cotton candy weekend read” Though you could take it upon yourself to read a bit at a time, and you may want too, the tales are ones that I believe should be read in the sections the author has broken them into and thought upon, just as the Cantos were intended to be read.

For example, the story as we start in Limbo, as many of us do. Which direction will we take? Should we go up or down, or in this stories down and up. What would it be like for you to stare out at a world above you, being exploited day after day literally frozen in time. As a catholic school girl I often wondered this. I was no closer to being catholic as the pope was a nudist, but the Jesuit priests liked to try.

Dark, profound it was, and cloudy, so that though I fixed my sight on the bottom I did not discern anything there.

~ Canto IV

The idea of Limbo always frightened me though. The what if’s I pondered at the young age of 13. “What if I kiss Shaun” “What if I kiss Shelly…” “What if I drink Dad’s wine?” What if? It as never the idea of hell that scared me because I did not believe hell,  it was the idea of limbo and purgatory, being left with the what if and never having resolution. The question we still have at the end of this tale… what if they left never went down, and he never came back up… what if?

What makes it interesting is if you take the quote I gave you from Canto IV, it is about darkness and seeing nothing… the story is reversed in that the protagonist, our narrator, is seeing everything. A true and easily understood idea of LIMBO, “Cold Corpse Carnival” is more than just a “flipped” retelling,  this flip and reversal, well… here is the thing, Ms. Cindy is tricksy, she is! Is it really flipping what Dante said? Is it a reversal? Let’s look at another, the second in the book, and it is from LUST.

The Shell. Those of you who know me, know my history and are going to say, WTF Kriss? Well I will tell you WTF my people, Cindy! It was a tale about a particular man who is part of a particular group of carnivorous monsters. About the drive of insanity and the unquenchable thirst which no one in their right mind could attribute to the idea of lust. Innocence lost, no wait…ripped and shredded, torn and bled almost dry. Ot is also about crossing the road that has always been in front of you, right smack dab in front of your face. These are just the first two tales!! Keep going it goes up, down, sideways  south and east and around and around…

Our author plays with blatant metaphors in such a way I was able to go “oooooooooooooooooooooh” But, if I were to have read this after a certain incident it may have been to much. In fact, I re-read several of these on Saturday, and it was to much subject wise because it was after Newtown and I was raw on emotional levels. However, if you read them at the right time, you won’t be disappointed, even if you have never read Cindy’s writing. She has amassed a style in telling a truly horrifying tale and making it palatable, real, challenging your boundaries of what is enough for you.

My suggestions to prepare for reading this. Do not read it when emotionally distraught. Do not read it when you want to kill your ex-husband for reasons unmentionable as they may incriminate you in the eyes of the law (kidding.. no really .. I am kidding) Read it for what it is meant to be read for. TO MAKE YOU THINK as well as entertain those dark shadowy corners we all have .. you know the ones we hide our kill-kit. If you are a lover of Dante, take this in mind but do not take it to terribly serious in that aspect. She has dumbed it down for the masses, and for one that reads and listens to Dante’s for for fun? I saw the cleverness as well. Do you need a formal education get “get” this? Oh heck no! It is all wrapped up and circles round and around spiraling up when you expect to go down, makes you question whether you turned right or left, or were suppose to take the southern route at the cross roads of Route 66. *wink* And wait to read the intro till you are done, and then you will get why I suggest this.

I liked the read, for a bit of mind fuckery, I would suggest reading the collection. And remember, make sure you take it when you go down into your shelters tonight because you are going to want something more horrific than the world is ending tomorrow, just to keep your mind off things…




Hellfire & Damnation II


Hell and Damnation II“Hellfire & Damnation II” is the sequel to the award-winning short story collection released in 2011 with a framing device of Dante’s “Inferno” and the 9 Circles of Hell and sins/crimes punished at each. (

The first book won an E-Lit award, plus Silver Feather, NABE and Pinnacle awards. The book is unique in featuring illustrations with each story, and it also has a “From the Author” section that tells what inspired each story. It is 56,000 words long and has a cover by award-winning artist Vincent Chong of the U.K. The stories have variant settings, but it is not necessary to have read the first collection to enjoy the second

  • genre – horror
  • rating – 18+ subject (matter, language, violence)
  • 170 pages




Connie Corcoran Wilson (MS + 30) graduated from the University of Iowa and  Western Illinois University, with additional study at Northern Illinois, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Chicago. She taught writing at six Iowa/Illinois colleges and has written for five newspapers and two blogs.

She is an active, voting member of HWA (Horror Writers Association . Her stories and interviews have appeared online and  in numerous journals. This year, her work has won prizes from “Whim’s Place Flash Fiction” and “Writer’s Digest” (Screenplay) and she is awaiting the publication of 3 books, including Connie reviewed film and books for the Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa) for 12 years and wrote humor columns and conducted interviews for the (Moline, Illinois) Daily Dispatch. She and her readers eagerly await the sequel of her award winning, Color of Evil (Red is for Rage) due out early 2013.

* Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a book tour host for Free Book Dude and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Free Book Dude, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


One Comment

  1. Ohhhhhh also when do I get my bacon bribe?

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