“You don’t scare me.”
“Then you clearly haven’t been paying attention.”
Prison of Hope is Nathan Garret’s fourth adventure. It’s a complete story on its own and does a good job of explaining the key concepts and characters, but also builds heavily on previously known characters and established backstory. Best to not to start here – go back to Crimes Against Magic (book 1). Also see my reviews for Born of Hatred (book 2) and With Silent Screams (book 3).
Tartarus, like all mythical things, isn’t quite as legends say. But it is the involuntary home of beings too dangerous to stay free. In 1936, the only known breakout occurred when the demon/human hybrid Pandora escaped and was tracked by sorcerer Nathan Garret. Now someone else hopes to become a second “success” story…
Prison of Hope promises to be the most ambitious Hellequin novel right off the bat by opening with a “List of Characters” section, naming key persons in both the flashback and current time periods. It’s a nice touch. Since the list is quite long it of course helps as a reference to keep everyone straight as the reader progresses, but it also raises anticipation for the appearances of some of the familiar mythological beings named that haven’t shown up in the series before. The skill with which McHugh blends numerous mythologies and magic systems into a cohesive world is masterful, as is his ability to then turn things on their head in believable, logical ways. His take on both Pandora and the Greek pantheon is fascinating and adds a lot of intrigue to the plot.
The flashback and modern time stories parallel and complement each other beautifully and the pace stays brisk and gripping throughout. McHugh has really found the perfect balance at this point of answering old questions and organically creating new ones in each new book to keep the series from getting stale without losing the suspense and atmosphere at the center of Hellequin’s appeal. Each new clue or detail about Nate’s past is a treat. There’s strong appearances by established supporting cast members as well as several new characters who are all well developed and distinct. And often annoying, but antagonists are supposed to be.
I’m going to wrap up here to avoid spoiling any of the surprises Prison of Hope has in store. One key reveal is actually spoiled in the book description, so if you’ve somehow found my review without reading that try to avoid it.
Prison of Hope is my favorite of the Hellequin series, combining compelling characters and plot in a suspenseful and gripping way.