Kings of Hell, Leigh Haddington’s debut, is built on a strong premise and maintains that conceptual strength throughout. The story opens with Jude Fitzroy, a helpless mother watching on as her two-year-old son succumbs to a terminal illness. In Jude’s position, a parent would do anything to ease the pain of their child, let alone save their life. Kings of Hell speculates what would happen if that ‘anything’ just so happened to walk right up to you, take a seat at the hospital cafeteria table at which you were sitting, and offer to save your kid.
Jude signs a contract with the devil, agreeing that she’ll get to raise Nick until he’s eighteen, at which point Lucifer will come and take his place; she will never know the difference, and Nick will rule Hell in Lucifer’s stead. (Don’t worry, that’s all in the blurb. There’s plenty more to the story.) Flowing from this great premise is effectively a coming-of-age story, albeit one infused with the harvesting of souls, the travelling between dimensions, and a fair whack of violence and death. If that’s all right up your street, then let Kings of Hell take you on a pretty intense ride.
An impressive debut which holds much promise for Leigh’s future work as he hones his craft and slips deeper into his role as dark fantasy horror scribe. Keep it up, Leigh!