- JG Faherty.
- 288 pages.
- My Rating: Hell No Review.
When Eddie Ryder is burned alive by fellow members of the Hell Riders motorcycle gang for ratting on them, he vows revenge with his dying breath. He returns as a ghost, with his custom motorcycle Diablo by his side. After he finds out he can possess people, he launches a campaign of vengeance that leaves plenty of bodies in its wake and the police in a state of confusion. Spouting fire and lightning from his fingers and screaming heavy metal lyrics as he rides the sky above the town of Hell Creek, he brings destruction down on all those who wronged him, his power growing with every death. Only Eddie s younger brother, Carson, and the police chief s daughter, Ellie, understand what s really happening, and now they have to stop him before he destroys the whole town.
I won an ARC copy of Hellrider through a competition on Twitter.
Nineteen-year-old Eddie Ryder is a biker in the small Florida town of Hell Creek against the backdrop of the Everglades with a sweet custom bike named ‘Diablo’. He is also a former member of the biker gang known as the Hellriders. Eddie is trying to go straight and turn his life around. His dad left and abandoned the family a few years ago and since then, after dropping out of school Eddie has been running his father’s garage, looking after his younger brother, sixteen-year-old Carson and his ill Mother, Sally who is deep in the throes of Emphysema and trying to support his family.
After Eddie and some other gang members were caught robbing a store Eddie sold out Ned Bowman, the gang leader in exchange for his freedom. Since then he has been trying to turn his life around and trying to move on. With an absent father, he has responsibilities that he has to live up to but he has always known that someday the rest of the Hellriders would seek retribution against him.
The Hellriders, with Ned in jail and now run by his brother Hank had been waiting, biding their time for the perfect opportunity to get their revenge on Eddie for betraying their code, their brotherhood and their leader. In a haze of drink and drugs members of the Hellriders, in the dead of the night burn down Eddie’s garage little realising that Eddie is inside. As the garage burns and as the flames consume the garage becomes a fiery, flaming tome for Eddie.
Eddie dies not giving up, refusing to give in and as the building explodes around him, he climbs on Diablo in an attempt to escape. The heat of the flames, the raging inferno of the fire fuses and melds his body to the frame of his beloved Diablo. Somehow, his spirit remains and returning from beyond the grave, his essence tethered to Hell Creek. His anger, his fury, his rage kept him from death, from passing over, now, with no mortal body, he is a vengeful spirit and it is his chance for revenge on those who killed him, who have wronged him.
Eddie is fuelled by, powered by his hatred and his rage towards those who killed him, those who took him away from his family, from those he loved, from those who needed him, who relied upon him and who are now alone. Eddie’s father abandoned him, his brother and his mother and now, through the actions of others, through the actions of the Hellriders, history has repeated itself and with is death Eddie has abandoned his family too.
After Eddie’s death, strange things start happening throughout Hell Creek, random power surges, windows blowing out, electrical discharges and a rumbling thunder high in the sky that sounds eerily like a motorbike revving and roaring away.
The Hellriders deny that they committed arson and murder, deny all knowledge of burning down the garage and the murder of Eddie. With no proof to say otherwise there isn’t much that the police can do. Only keep an eye on the gang and bring them in for every little misdemeanour that they found guilty of and put pressure on them until one cracks and admits the truth. Eddie doesn’t need the police, he knows that the gang are guilty and that they killed him. With Eddie’s spirit lose in Hell Creek members of the Hellriders start acting strangely, not just their usual drunk and drug-addled or drunk behaviour but, something more, they are losing hours where they can’t remember what they have done. Eddie doesn’t just kill the Hellriders, instead, he gets up to some diabolical mischief at their expense.
As a spirit, Eddie is chained to Hell Creek and his grave. He cannot pass the borders of the town and using his powers weakens him. He is anchored to his grave and that is where he can recharge his energy. His bike, Diablo is a part of him, it was in life, it is in death and his spirit can conjure a spectral version of his bike to ride upon.
Eddie finds that he can possess people and each time Eddie possess another person he becomes more powerful, a raging inferno and he feels energised, recharged and brimming with power. Eddie inherited his father’s anger, his temper and it had always been there bubbling away under the surface. With his death and transformation into a spirit, the anger now broils and he is far more volatile in death than he was in life.
It was a hard life, a troubled life that Eddie lived and by all accounts Eddie, himself was trouble but he had been trying to be better. Now, all his pain, regret, anger, hatred, rage and sadness form a miasmic torrent of roiling emotions inside his spirit. The more people that Eddie possesses the more dangerous and unhinged he becomes.
Finally, Eddie loses himself to insanity, loses who he was and in the churning maelstrom of the mind of the monster he snaps. He doesn’t just go after the Hellriders but the whole town of Hell Creek is in his sights. His vengeance and his wrath set upon them all. He starts hurting innocents, those who never did him any wrong and Hell Creek soon finds itself at the mercy of, besieged by the spirit of Eddie.
The bikers have a debauched lifestyle of drink, drugs and easy women who are drawn to the dangerous image of the biker gang. Women who follow them, offering themselves and their bodies like a ripe peach splitting open. The gang get up to some drunken and debauched behaviour at their clubhouse parties and the sexually explicit actions of Eddie under the guise of the biker that he is currently possessing are in the nature of both the gang members and the women who act like groupies for the gang. I’m not saying that I agree with, or condone it, I don’t but it fits with the personalities of the characters. However…some of the situations are downright uncomfortable, some including other characters are just unpleasant to read (one treads very close to crossing the line and overstepping the mark) and another was a complete misstep that felt in very bad taste and, in my opinion, shouldn’t have been included in the book
For me, this is where Hellrider crashed and burned. I understand the use of sexual assault to show how evil and twisted Eddie was becoming and his transformation into a full-blown monster. But, I wish that there was more variety to the descent with far less focus on things of a sexual nature (each time Eddie possessed a person there seemed to be something sexual involved) and more focus on the carnage, mayhem, murder and revenge.
I’m not a prude, but some of the terms/names used were very derisory and disrespectful and the amount of sexual assault in the second half of the book was well over the top. I have nothing more to say than simply, I didn’t enjoy the book at all when these bits were featured and it was a struggle to finish.
At the start of the story, you can easily get behind Eddie’s need for revenge on those who killed him. However, he transforms into a very contemptible person. While you did sympathise with him, as the story progresses and as he becomes more dislikeable and his acts more heinous that feeling fades and you just want to see him stopped.
As Eddie changes, as the darkness takes hold and as the strange occurrences start happening around Hell Creek with more frequency Carson and Kellie (the police chiefs daughter and Carson’s friend) take a more prominent role in the story. Carson is the opposite of Eddie, awkward around girls, sensible, intelligent and he likes school. It’s up to him with help from Kellie to uncover the truth and stop his brother. While your sympathy for Eddie diminishes, at the same time, it grows for Carson.
The pacing is fast in Hellrider. The characterisation is good, Eddie, Carson, Kellie, the police chief Johnny Ray Jones and the various main bikers in the Hellrider gang all have their own personalities (even if you don’t like them and they are just variants of drunken brutes or odious creeps) and role to play in the story being told. Eddie’s love of heavy metal music and the lyrics of his favourite songs are well incorporated into the story. There are also darkly funny moments spread throughout Hellrider that when done right manage to make you smile but, even for me, they were occasionally to puerile to be funny.
At its best, Hellrider is a flame-fuelled and firey revenge ride and, at its worst, it stutters and stalls like a bike out of gas before crashing and burning. I should have loved Hellrider, it promised to be a bloody and brutal tale of retribution, of vengeance and sadly, I didn’t. I did enjoy Hellrider, a hell of a lot in places but, that enjoyment eroded away, turned to dust and ultimately, the excessive and repetitive gratuitous sexual assault in the second half of the book ruined it for me.
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