Editorial Review: Hell Holes Book IV: A Slave’s Revenge by Donald Firesmith

Editorial Review: Hell Holes Book IV: A Slave’s Revenge by Donald Firesmith

After being kidnapped by demonic aliens at the age of fifteen years, Paul Chapman spends the next twenty-three years as their slave on a planet called Hell, knowing that every day could be his last.

A Slave’s Revenge is the fourth book in the “Hell Holes” series by Donald Firesmith, but it is also a good entry point for readers unfamiliar with the previous books. It is written as the autobiography of a man named Paul Chapman, who is abducted by aliens that look like demons at the tender age of fifteen. Although they murder his father, Paul’s captors take Paul along with his mother and sister through a portal to a planet called Hell. It is only a tiny part of their vast empire, but for Paul, it would be his home for the next twenty-three years. On Hell, Humans are divided into slaves and food, with the former quickly becoming the latter if they can’t perform the grueling tasks demanded by the demons. Paul and his sister are soon separated from their mother but do their best to stick together as they endure the pain and suffering of life on Hell. Unfortunately, Paul soon learns that there’s a reason why slaves don’t manage to survive very long under the oppressive yolk of the demons.

A Slave’s Revenge is a harrowing read right from the get-go, as Donald Firesmith doesn’t shy away from the horrors inflicted by the demons. Paul and his family are brutally ripped away from their idyllic lives in Alaska, and he gets to witness firsthand how little regard the demons have for those they deem useless to them. A Slave’s Revenge is filled with vivid descriptions of the hellish conditions on Hell, but the book also includes several illustrations depicting the various demons and their captives. Along with humans, Hell is also home to other alien races captured by the demons, such as the Mrkl, Kextuxix, and Blurk. 

The opening chapters of A Slave’s Revenge cover Paul’s capture and his acclimation to the harsh conditions of Hell. Initially, Paul and his sister are assigned to farm work, but when further tragedy strikes, he is thrust into the role of a gladiator. While fighting in the arena for the enjoyment of the demons, Paul never loses hope that someday he might take revenge on the demons, but as the years pass, this dream begins to look futile. While Paul thrives as a gladiator, he still has to face many hardships, all of which are chronicled in his autobiography. 

A Slave’s Revenge is not only a riveting story, but Donald Firesmith has also done a great job with worldbuilding. The demons have a social hierarchy, and there are logical reasons for how their civilization functions. These descriptions, along with the drawings, help to draw readers deeper into the story. This attention to detail extends to the multitude of maps, glossary of terms, and bestiary of demons and other characters at the back of the book. In addition, the book features extensive footnotes explaining the approximate pronunciation of all the demonic and alien names. 

While A Slave’s Revenge is not a story for the squeamish, it is a gripping story from start to finish. Whereas the previous books in the series covered the demonic invasion on Earth and humanity’s desperate attempts to strike back, this novel offers a unique perspective from a slave inside their cruel empire. Fans of the previous books will enjoy this gritty tale with its memorable lead, while newcomers will want to check out the other entries in the series as soon as they are done reading this one.