Hell Train

Hell Train   by Christopher Fowler

This is an usual little book which should appeal to all fans of the old Hammer movies which starred Chris Lee and Peter Cushing.

Shane Carter is a script writer from Hollywood who finds himself at a loose end when his job ends. He makes his way to England to try to get on board with 1960’s film company, Hammer, which specializes in horror.

Carter is given the task of writing a novel tale for consideration, but it must contain a train as Peter Cushing has always wanted to feature in a film set on one. Carter’s vivid imagination comes up with a plot involving the eponymous Hell Train, a vehicle of the damned.

The Hell Train is a box of terrorizing tricks on wheels. It defies reality, gravity and all good sense. Yet it does so in the best tradition of Hammer horror. It all makes for a good, if light and ragged, yarn. There are characters of note, strange occurrences at every turn, and quirky leaps throughout. The story moves from the reality of life in 60’s middle-England to the terror of travelling on a World War 1 train destined for Hell.

As the train progresses, our central characters are forced to fight for their lives and souls before it reaches its final stop. They encounter every manner of nasty creature, although I didn’t notice a Donald Trump on the train, not even in First Class (now that would be a scary monster to  meet in an enclosed space). There are Satanists with their human sacrifice, buxom maidens, heroic adventurers, monsters, gore and violence that you can’t take seriously. It won’t keep you awake at night.

I won’t spend too much time reviewing this book as it’s short and of little literary value. It is good fun in a nostalgic sort of way, but ultimately reads as a project undertaken by an author who grew up on the Hammer House of Horror, but who was not enthusiastic enough to go all out in his presentation of the story.

Sult scale rating: 6.5 out of 10. Just OK, for fans of the Hammer films.