Blue Hell
Greg F. Gifune and Sandy DeLuca
JournalStone Publishing (March 5, 2021)
Reviewed by Andrew Byers

Blue Hell by Greg F. Gifune and Sandy DeLuca, their first of three (to-date) collaborations, is an exhilarating descent into the darkest corners of the human psyche, where horror and mystery intertwine to create a gripping narrative that will haunt your thoughts long after you’ve turned the final page.

The authors, known for their taut and terrifying prose, deliver a relentless and spine-tingling tale that explores the lives of three individuals whose paths ultimately become entangled in the sinister web of a nightmarish city. Blue Hell explores the experiences of three protagonists: Stringer, a homeless amnesiac who has been badly injured and who awakens in a hospital; Carla, a pregnant drug addict who has also just awoken after being in a terrible car accident; and Marco, a charismatic young shoe salesman who just might be destined for big things if he ever starts taking his life seriously. The book is nominally their story, but as the title alludes, theirs may be the fate that awaits many more of us. I don’t want to say more about the plot because you must experience it for yourself. From the very beginning, the story grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go, immersing you in a world of uncertainty, dread, dark pasts, gradual revelations, and unrelenting tension. This one was a nightmarish, phantasmagorical journey that I found reminiscent of some psychological travels into confused, diseased minds, like Jacob’s Ladder, The Cell, and The Serpent and the Rainbow. It was at times hallucinatory, following a kind of dreamlike logic, which only ratcheted up the tension for me. This is not a novel with a straightforward, linear plot about normal people going through ordinary lives. Accept that you will be uncomfortable going into the story and you will enjoy it from the outset.

The characters in Blue Hell are excellently crafted, each with their own complex and troubled pasts. As the narrative unfolds, you’ll find yourself deeply invested in their fates, sharing in their fears and anxieties. Their journeys are riveting, and the mystery surrounding their connections keeps you eagerly turning the pages.

The book’s setting, described as a city of night, foggy streets, and shadow-filled alleys, becomes a character in itself—an ominous and foreboding backdrop that amplifies the sense of claustrophobia and dread. Gifune and DeLuca expertly convey the city’s chilling atmosphere, enveloping the reader in a world where darkness and despair reign. This is one of those cities depicted in noir-ish movies about troubled detectives hunting serial killers, where it’s always night, always raining, and always dangerous.

What sets Blue Hell apart is its ability to weave a complex and immersive narrative that keeps you guessing until the very end. The story unfolds in a non-linear fashion, adding layers of intrigue and uncertainty to the unfolding events. As the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, you’ll find yourself questioning the nature of reality and the true significance of the characters’ experiences.

The prose in this book is nothing short of exceptional. Gifune and DeLuca’s writing is visceral and evocative, allowing readers to feel the palpable fear and confusion of the characters. The nightmarish imagery and the relentless pace of the narrative make for a truly immersive reading experience.

In Blue Hell, the authors deliver a tale that explores not only the horror that lurks in the shadows but also the inner demons that haunt us all. It’s a journey into the heart of darkness, where the boundaries between dreams and reality blur, and the truth is a fleeting and elusive concept.

Blue Hell is a must-read for fans of psychological horror and crime. Greg F. Gifune and Sandy DeLuca have created a haunting and mesmerizing narrative that is as thought-provoking as it is terrifying. This book is a chilling rollercoaster ride through the unknown, and it will leave you breathless and haunted by its powerful storytelling. Recommended for those who crave a dark and immersive reading experience that lingers long after the final page is turned. Prepare to be enthralled by the relentless, heart-pounding journey through the nightmarish streets of Blue Hell.