I feel weird about this review. Part of me feels like I missed the point of the story while the other part insists—no, no, I did get the story, I just didn’t like it much.
I’m not going to sit here and trash this book, there is a lot of good in it, but I have to be honest in this review so I’m going to tell both sides of the story. Speaking of which, what exactly is Hell’s Judgement about? Well… for starters, it is a simple story about one Priest’s determination to convert a lost soul. Of course, there’s a lot more to that you can find out for yourself by picking up a copy of this book.
There are a number of concepts introduced in the writing; spiritual warfare, the occult, angels versus demons, and more. It feels like there’s an awful lot to take in, but Benson does fairly well at keeping things organized and easy to understand.
This all sounds like a decent book, right? What’s not to like about it, right?
To begin, I’ll admit the writing is perfectly fine. There weren’t any horrifying errors and editing was definitely not done by the author—haha. But I do feel like there was a distinct lack of emotion in the narration. England faced serious destruction but the only men who could do anything about it seemed pretty chill to receive the news. I was told they were afraid, I was told they were terrified at one point—but I didn’t sense that at all. Saying someone is afraid is much different from describing their fear. I felt there was a serious lack of emotion and description where it mattered most which pulled away from the main events a bit.
Additionally, I understood the plot well enough and I liked the inclusion of spiritual battles that happen in a realm beyond the sight of regular humans, but, ultimately, I thought it was a very strange story. I can’t describe it very well—but every couple of pages I got the urge to scratch my head and go… what? I was thrown off by how rich McClain was; I do believe in the prosperity of God, but I was shocked by his Jaguar and his Rolex and copious amounts of money that didn’t really enhance or take away from the story. Since Priests are typically not filthy rich, I expected his money to have more of an explanation or purpose in the book, so I was slightly dissatisfied in that aspect. I was also somewhat displeased with the lack of female protagonists. Besides the nun, no other woman played a very significant part in the book, except for being on the dark side of things. Priests and Fathers are typically men, I understand that, but if we’re talking fiction here—why couldn’t we have a couple Priestesses thrown in the mix?
Having the occult featured in the book was interesting and sort of tied into real-world events but it seemed sort of forced. I thought the book had more than enough story to tell with the massive storm coming and having McClain imbued with the power to stop it. Adding the dark princess and the occult and the run-away nun made the book feel like a whirlwind of unnecessary plot twists. I didn’t hate any of it, but I was so terribly let down when the focal point of the story shifted. In the author’s defense, it was not all-of-a-sudden—I saw the story changing and I think the transition was very smooth. I guess I’m just upset because the story didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.
At the end of the day, I can’t say this was something I would pick up again, but I am kind enough to recommend it to others as it is a worthwhile addition to the Christian literary realm. If you enjoy religious fiction you will want to give this a chance and those who like good versus evil novels will definitely find this worthwhile.