Review of Hel’s Eight by Stark Holborn


Ten “Doc” Low is a medic with a dark past, riding the wastes of the desert moon Factus, dispensing medicine to the needy and death to those who cross the laws of the mysterious Seekers. Cursed by otherworldly forces, she stays alone to keep herself safe, and to keep others safe from her…

But when she experiences a terrifying vision of conflict and the deaths of those she once called friends, she must drag herself back to the land of the living to stop a war before it begins. With rebellion brewing, the Accord’s grip on the Outer Moons weakening and a sinister tycoon buying up all land in sight, Ten must find allies where she can and face the past in order to save the future. The cost will be greater than she could ever have imagined…

“We are all Hel”

If there is one takeaway line from this book then that would be it, Hel is a way of survival on Factus, a way of life, an ethos, a humanity; for those who carve out a way of life for themselves on the moon. 

Where Ten Low felt like a story of discovery, Hel’s eight is its gunslinging, sharpshooting sibling. Gunfights are a huge part of this story and Stark Holborn writes them so well but they are also nicely balanced out by the diary pages of Pec “Eight” Esterhazy, which gives not only a change of pace but also a potted history of Factus and Xoon industries weaving into Ten’s story in all the right places. I liked how this back and forth gave the book some definition from a format perspective and it was easier to then pick up and put down.

Like spending time with the If’s, I found myself questioning the reality of what I was reading, finding mystery’s in every sand filled corner. I had to keep pulling myself back to the early line to remind myself not to get lost.

I enjoyed the variation in landscape this time round, Factus felt more of a civilisation with its city seemingly a nod to Mad Max’s Thunderdome, with larger than life leaders and its own martial law, Punishments dished out over the flip of a very important coin, which plays into the long running theme of the story.

Hel’s Eight built on the friendships and fundamentals of Ten Low and created a new narrative from it, one that felt more tangible and yet at times completely ethereal, it was a great follow up to Ten Low, with a cinematic feel and a story that wove itself perfectly. Still sad about Rowdy though!

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