Beyond The Black Gate – Joseph Sale
Reviewed By Steve Stred
If you followed my reviews in 2018 or have watched any of my tweets on Twitter, you’d see that one of my top reads of 2018 was Gods of the Black Gate by Sale. It was an unexpected story that I volunteered to read and review almost begrudgingly. The original synopsis didn’t fully speak to me, but it was one that Kendall Reviews was really hoping to have a team member review, so at the time, I took one for the team. How wrong I was for my assumptions still makes me chuckle.
My initial reservations for Gods was the ‘sci-fi’ element, more specifically the featuring of Mars. Much like the zombie genre, I’ve become a bit jaded or disinterested in stories that involve/take place on Mars. The first story followed a notorious criminal on Earth who was moved to the penal colonies of Mars. There he breaks free and works to open the Black Gate so that the forgotten, forbidden ‘Gods’ can return to earth. Within twenty or so pages I was hooked and the entire read was stellar.
Then a bigger surprise. Joseph Sale reached out and asked if I’d be open to beta-reading the sequel ‘Beyond the Black Gate.’ My reply was an emphatic ‘YES!’
I’ll say this – you don’t need to have read Gods of the Black Gate to read this stunning follow-up. You should. You really, really should. But it’s not necessary to follow along.
I actually read this book twice in two weeks (and because I wanted to make sure I was doing my job as a beta-reader, not just a massive fan of the content, I’m actually 40% into read #3!) because I initially failed as a beta-reader. I ravaged the content when it arrived, reading it in three sittings. It galloped along and I enjoyed it beyond enjoyment. But then I remembered I was supposed to be beta-reading it. So I re-read it more methodically and found I had only one question, which ultimately wasn’t a big deal and let Sale know about it. (And if you are wondering – I received permission from Sale to review the beta copy.)
Now – what’s up with ‘Beyond the Black Gate’? I’ve tweeted it before and I’ll re-state it here; ‘Beyond’ is a well done mash-up of HEAVY METAL with Barker-esque gore set in a Lovecraftian reality. There’s no other way to describe it. All of the characters from the first book that lived are back and play vital roles throughout, but much like HEAVY METAL, Sale has introduced a new gaggle of rogues and warriors from another reality, another realm and instead of gently bringing them into the fold, Sale throws them at a metal fan and let’s their remains splatter throughout the story.
The basis of the story follows criminal Smiley, now having moved ‘beyond the black gate’ (See! See!) and learning that maybe the Gods ain’t as grand as he was expecting and not as excited that he opened the gate. We get Caleb returning and as I mentioned Sale introduces us to a well done group of new characters as Smiley moves through a thoroughly imaginative and depraved new world.
I can’t say much more otherwise I’ll end up in spoiler territory, but I really do believe this is a must read for horror fans in 2019. I jokingly messaged Sale about ensuring a third act and getting us a nice trilogy box-set out of this, but never got a true reply! Here’s hoping. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
In the meantime, please, please go snag this release and prepare to be transported into a visually stunning world with rich characters and phenomenal gore. I know I’m glad I ended up reading book one, but book two tops its predecessor time and time again.
Star Rating (out of 5): 5*
(I wish I could give it more)
KR: You can read Steve’s review for Gods Of The Black Gate here
Beyond The Black Gate
Once, he killed in the name of the gods. Now, he’ll kill the gods. Following on from the events of Gods of the Black Gate. Craig Smiley was once one of the most dangerous serial killers the world had ever known. He killed in the name of seven dark gods. Now, betrayed and offered up as a sacrifice by the very deities he served, Smiley finds himself transported to a mysterious realm beyond the Black Gate. On a quest for revenge, and possibly redemption, Smiley will face the gods that made him, and kill for the very last time.
(Please use the code LULU10 to earn a 10% discount on the Paperback)
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Steve Stred is an up-an-coming Dark Horror author. Steve is the author of the novel Invisible, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick.
Steve also has a number of works on the go and enjoys all this horror, occult, supernatural and paranormal.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog Oj.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official Website here
The Girl Who Hid In The Trees
Something lurks just beyond.
Centuries ago a heinous act created a ripple that still haunts the residents to this very day.
Now the kids who reside near McConnell’s Forest live forever in fear.
Jason lost his brother when he was young. He left with his friends to ‘debunk’ the urban legend and never came back.
Now Jason and his group of friends are fed up and want to discover what is happening, what is the real cause of the terror holding their small town hostage.
But something is waiting for them. She may look sweet and innocent, but the friends are about to find out that pure evil can exist in the smallest of packages.
She’s out there. And while you may not know her name or what she looks like, the local kids will tell you if you ask, that you should fear for your life from the girl who hid in the trees.
From the dark mind of Steve Stred, the author of Wagon Buddy, YURI and Invisible comes this fast-paced, seat of your pants coming-of-age tale. A quick, violent, bleak read, The Girl Who Hid In The Trees will make you think twice about those sounds you hear far off in the woods.