In my quest to research and review books based on hell both fiction and nonfiction, the latest effort comes in the way of the book titled “A Divine Revelation of Hell” by Mary K. Baxter.
Much like “23 minutes in Hell”, This novel was written under the reality of an out of body experience that was led by Jesus Christ himself. The author reports that she was chosen to see, hear, smell and experience the realities of Hell to come back and write about it to the world. The journey itself was accompanied by Jesus as each portal, wing and site was explained. At current, regarded as a national best seller, the work itself is full of Christian philosophy and revelations. Though at its core also is a harrowing book of horror. In fact, I tend to believe that the “most horrific” reads are those that proclaim to come from truth and experience rather than function. Much like the way the original “Exorcist” sent that “based on true experience” message, such is the way that literature visits to hell can also become haunting in there realization.
The author reports that the experience was one that was introduced over a few days. The book itself was written over the course of 8 months as she tried to put her visions down on paper. The journey within is one that tackles her staring into the abyss and stops as a tourist while Jesus explains what she is seeing and why the damned are beyond saving. Ladled heavily with Christianity, the explanations are sensible and based on common knowledge within the church. In fact if anything that is clear, its….the fact that once you’ve been pasted judgment you are condemned to suffer and beyond heavens help.
Somehow even this simple message seems a bit harsh from a forgiving God, but as the writer explains this is not meant to be so much a message as a ultimate destination for those who question, ignore or refuse to hear that which has been conveyed to them.
The writing style is both a hit and miss for me. While much of the book centers on the journey though hell per Jesus Christ as a guide, there is alot of repetition. In fact several times the descriptions were repeated so much that I thought maybe I jumped back in the book by accident. This is where the author needs to ramp up her vocabulary of descriptions words used. Each soul she encounters is more or less a gray mist, a skeleton with flesh hanging off of it and worms crawling about. As a reader, once we’ve read this more than 3 times, it begins to start to weigh on the content and the truthfulness of the journey. Even if the words are true the descriptions can be embellished with a deeper horror vocabulary to keep our interest higher. Other portions have Jesus speaking to her and to the souls of the damned, but again it sounded like someone gave Jesus a bad script than someone of brilliance and all knowing. Beyond these destractions there is much that is vivid and painted with unique perspectives of what is seen.
I enjoyed the portions that ramped up beyond just everyone stuck in a pit sections. The passage into the black heart of hell was unique and colorful in a dark way. Then as she is taken into rows of cells 17 feet high it begins to fill in some of the gaps about where souls are taken and how they are punished. Something though bothered me in the way Jesus was portrayed as cold to all the damned souls he encountered. Somehow it really didn’t fit the profile that the church has built him upon. The reasons are given and repeated many times again. Also there seems to be a particular focus on souls that delved in occult and black magic backgrounds. I wasn’t so sure what to make of this, as I believe there are far worse crimes being committed that should have gained equal focus.
For readers and horror fans I would still say that the horror portion of this is satisfying enough as any horror novel out for its darkened visions and encounters that is written to educate readers. Non religious types may find the “message” a bit heavy, though the purpose of this book is clear and makes no excuses for its reports on the hear and after. Fans of afterlife books may find reward in comparison to the secular afterlife reports and the Christian after life’s reports. In this case the focus is on “Hell itself. I did enjoy this book, that reads well and very quickly. Unfortunately some readers may find themselves saying ….great stuff but we want to know more about what awaits. Well…then again the question would default to …do you really? and for what? entertainment or knowledge of indescribable horrors. The visions reported are very visual at times and effective. The more of these I read the more I realize that they belong in this review column as much as any horror book out there.