Thursday, March 12, 2009
Last year I began reading Jeff Long's The Descent and was immediately enthralled. Just as quickly I lost the book underneath one of the kids' bed, and didn't resume the book for months. From the point that book made its way back into my hands I couldn't put it down.
The Descent is the story of mankind's exposure to the Hadal, a race of half human, half demon beings that inhabit the inner reaches of the earth and are the source for many of our myths. For whatever reason mankind has now been forced to accept their existence, a 'first contact' established by a series of chilling opening chapters.
Soon enough the armies of the world venture into a cave system that spans the entirety of the globe, travelling miles beneath ocean and land. These soldiers meets a terrifying end, drawn into a trap and then extinguished by the thousands.
Mankind regroups and appears to win, due in large part to survivors of Hadal captivity who now act as scouts. One of these, Ike, leads an expedition deep into the earth's depths. The hidden agenda of Ali, a nun assigned to the group: identify the leader of the Hadals, a man who history knows by many names. Chief among these titles: Satan.
I will admit that there is a dramatic and abrupt change in gears once mankind chooses to recognize the Hadals existence. One minute they are mythical creatures and those who see them are crazy; the next we are on a Jules Verne trip through their homeland. It's not the best transition.
Yet the book grabs you and doesn't let go, and I whole-heatedly recommend it. A word of warning - the Hadals are not kind to their captives, and the violence they exhibit is intense and horrific - far beyond any of the stuff I've ever read. I believe it is essential to the plot because it establishes their terrifying religious and sexual worship of pain and elevates them to something far worse than your standard fictional monster.
They are the source and stuff of nightmares.
If you can stomach some violence, then by all means, pick up a copy.