A Letter from Hell by William Presley

HELL
A Letter from Hell by William Presley
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Historical
Length: Short Story (56 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

In a desperate attempt to save his soul before he dies, southern aristocrat William Virgil Hollingsmore writes the world a cautionary letter on the last of his twelve days in a personalized Hell. In it, through the haze of his own mental deterioration, he chronicles the horrors and agony that befell him at the hands of Satan, as well as the sad events leading up to this unfortunate climax.

Everyone deserves another chance at redemption, but that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily get one.

My favorite kind of horror story is the one that sneaks up on the reader. At first glance, this tale appears to be about a sick, old man who sounds like he might be mentally ill. Figuring out what’s going on with him was a challenge given how often the plot jumps from one decade to the next. What was even more interesting was listening to William argue with himself about the nature of various supernatural beings. It wasn’t a discussion I was expecting to find in this kind of tale, but it did raise some fascinating questions.

As the plot progresses, more details emerge about the truly horrific choices William made as an adult. Given how severely he repeatedly chose to hurt others, I had a hard time understanding why his conscience was suddenly so tender. It’s one thing to regret a handful of mistakes, but his old age and poor health aren’t enough explain the extreme personality changes that that character undergoes in the beginning of this novella.

The well-written ending packed a few punches. I figured out some of the twists ahead of time, but it was interesting to see which ones caught me by surprise. Mr. Presley has a smooth writing style that is well-suited to the horror genre in particular. It was easy to get lulled into a crisp, clean description of one of the character’s backstories only for the author to jerk me back into William’s current predicament with yet another surprise.

I’d recommend A Letter from Hell to anyone who is a fan of classic horror.

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