Hate The Sin – Artyom Dereschuk
Reviewed by Steve Stred
“He was supposed to live to be a hundred years old and die in his sleep.”
Hate the Sin is my second go-around with Dereschuk, after reading Master of the Forest last year. As I said then, I am a massive, massive fan of all things set in Russia/Siberian etc. Growing up the vast wilderness of that area of the world always intrigued me and set my imagination running. Where I grew up shared many similarities to that area, so naturally, I get drawn too it.
Where Master of the Forest started a bit slow before completely ramping things up, Hate the Sin is the opposite. Set during a real war and featuring the horrific act of child army conscription, Dereschuk is able to immediately pull the reader in with the sad nature of just what is happening. Making kids into killing machines is a brutal topic and to show the extent of the “soldier” aspect and the dehumanizing the kid’s experience, none of them are called by their real names, all have chosen war names. Names such as Desecrator, Pussy Slayer and Tsetse.
The story turns into a supernatural tale once General Malaria orders his troop onto a nearby village and they kill one of the spiritual women. Soon after creatures descend and kill some of the troop. It’s at this point the story heads subterranean.
Where Master of the Forest became a tale of a survivor, Hate the Sin, unfortunately, devolves into a ‘more of the same’ story with many chapters feeling repetitive of prior chapters and the story not being furthered by their inclusion. The biggest miss for me though was the story falling into the “there’s always a bigger monster” trope. Dereschuk had created some genuinely creepy monsters, but then the story continued to escalate.
I did enjoy the finale/resolution at the end. It gave some great closure and harkened back to the horrors of war and the lingering hurt and pain that soldiers deal with, more so it would appear when those soldiers were just children.
I think this book will appeal to many horror readers, me personally – it felt lacking in areas and padded in others. I made a comment in my Masters review (KR: Which you can read here) that a lot of the story felt like it had been written and then translated through Google translate. There was no issue with any of that here, which was great to see!
Definitely check this story out if you enjoy war horror stories and subterranean beasties. I just wish it had pumped the brakes a number of times and focused on a more cohesive story.
Hate The Sin
Corpse Eater. Homewrecker. Marlboro Man. Puppy Slayer. Desecrator.
They don’t remember their real names anymore.
Most of these boys are only thirteen, but they already know what it’s like to kill. They think they know the true horrors. That the civil war in their small African country is the only hell there is. And that the people who give them orders are the only real monsters in this world.
But beneath their hell lies another – with monsters older than time itself. And when the boys’ raid on a nearby village invokes the wrath of its priestess the beasts that used to hunt on sunless plains come out to answer her cry for revenge… And they don’t care if their prey is guilty or not.
In their undead eyes, everybody’s the sinner.
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction.
Steve is the author of the novels Invisible & The Stranger, the novellas The Girl Who Hid in the Trees, 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, and the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun.
On September 1st, 2019 his second collection of dark poetry and drabbles called The Night Crawls In will arrive. This release was specifically created to help fund the 1st Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
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