Coffin Riders by James Bodden

Coffin Riders by James BoddenBloom and the love of his life, Lorraine, decide to make what they see as the ultimate romantic gesture and commit suicide to spend eternity together. After putting the gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger, Bloom descends to the afterlife. When he’s not joined by Lorraine he’s desperate to discover why not. When he finds out, this turns to the burning desire for revenge.

The setting is so much of the story as you explore the afterlife with Bloom. The author creates a unique world. Bloom’s first stop is an afterlife assistance center, Paradise Cove. Paradise turns out to be a bit of an exaggeration. In a world of rotting corpses and creepy attendants it was never going to be wonderful. Although in comparison to the rest of hell, it was much better. Bloom’s desperate desire to reach Lorraine gets him in further trouble and begins his descent though the realms of hell.

There are so many interesting little creations in this bizarro afterlife, from a mole filled vending machine to towels as currency. I’ve never read about a worm turf war before, but this is the case as they vie for space in Bloom’s rotting intestines in one part of the book. This is an example of one of the many strange occurrences that make up Bodden’s world of the afterlife. It’s fresh and fascinating.

Bloom learns that he can get back to the land of the living by traveling through all nine realms of hell. It’s quite a trip as he experiences each realm, from being larvae food to part of an industrial machine. The environments he encounters and the people and beings that he meets are all strikingly different. His decomposing corpse and mind take a hell of a beating on the way. It’s a take on the classic Dante’s Inferno, and some of the realms of hell mirror those of the poem. The author creates a bestiary of fantastic creatures including some recognizable from the poem.

It’s an interesting book, with a fresh take on hell and its dominions. We see plenty of horrific things and violence, but it’s not quite as jarring when you’re dead already. Not only do we see Bloom’s journey through hell, but we are also with him through his journey of coming to terms with being dead and the afterlife. The book has a rewarding and fitting conclusion.

7/10

Book Cover Blurb:
Bloom deep-throats the barrel, and pulls the trigger. He waits for Lorraine to follow him into the afterlife, just like they planned, but she never shows. Death has no pay off.

He drops down to the underworld, a place called Paradise Cove, an assisted afterlife facility masquerading as a cheap hotel deep in the bowels of the earth. A modern day Dante, Bloom searches desperately for a way out of hell. He journeys through the nine known underworlds in a mad search for his lady love to take the revenge he thinks he is owed.

Death is a spiral: the deeper you go the worse it gets.