After successfully destroying the portals in France and Russia, Jason McCreary leads the Hell Gaters to northeast China to close the one in Manchuria. Yet the challenges they face are much greater than before.
Months of travel and combat have eroded the team’s morale. Sasha’s return with the Purgatoriati proves distracting for Jason, whose feelings for her have resurfaced. Jason must also make a choice between his personal loyalty and the success of the mission. Choices that impact the team’s cohesion.
Even more threatening, the Hell Gaters are about to encounter the most intelligent and treacherous entity to emerge from the Underworld. One who has entered into an unholy alliance with a band of humans, creating the most dangerous threat Jason and his team have yet to encounter.
As the Hell Gaters battle their way across Manchuria, Jason is confronted with the task of not only defeating the demons but holding his team together in the process.
As with the other Hell Gate books, the reader begins with a teaser of how the country, in book three it is China, handles the opening of the portals to Hell. It all starts off slow, but it isn’t uninteresting as Matthews is undeniably skilled at weaving dry, tactical information in with the tumultuous relationships that have been coming together throughout the past two books. Too, he slips interesting bits of macabre history into these dry spells. The way that backstories are provided for the characters that are already known to the reader from the previous volumes was a bit unnatural and thick at times. The suspension starts to creep in again around 40% when the Hell Gaters finally begin to close in on the Hell Gate. After a lot of summation and some firming up of the character roles, Matthews delivers with his exercised prestige for gruesome and terrifying action. By chapter twenty eight, the climax feels to have really started rolling when The Sataners, an entirely new threat that debuts in the title of the book but remains fairly aloof until this point, have quickly become the Hell Gaters new priority. From there, the reader is able to connect most of the dots that Matthews distributed through the first 50% of the book. The series’ protagonist, Jason has supernatural abilities that develop at a very slow pace, and the way they are explained is reminiscent of a video game tutorial. Over explained, in case it was missed last time, and with a little tweak, but still mostly the same. This was a little disappointing, but it’s an aspect of the story that will have to develop over the entire series. So it isn’t unreasonable for it to grow this way. That same gamer’s construction can be said for the way different types of monsters encounter The Hell Gaters from country to country. They seem to come in stages and stack neatly on top of one another like a block tower of the horrors and brutalities of Hell that are growing into a full force army of the damned. Matthews cuts the ethos out a bit at the end of the book. Jason is intermingled in quite the love triangle, and this does not reach a real conclusion by the close of the novel. However, all that had become paramount throughout the chapters is quickly snipped and tied up into a neat yet morose bow. Matthews leads us to the inescapable conclusion that there is still more terror to come, and has left us with a book that warrants five stars.