Horror Book Review: 7 Days in Hell by Iseult Murphy

Horror Book Review

7 Days in Hell
Author: Iseult Murphy
Publication Date: June 3, 2020
Genres: Horror
Shelves: Female author, Female-fronted

Although a little uneven in its pacing, and often more creepy than terrifying, 7 Days in Hell caught my interest with the first chapter and kept me reading, curious as to where it was all headed,

Iseult Murphy has a way with words and a flair for detail that creates the perfect atmosphere for the story. The opening pages introduce us to the pungent country, the smell of death, and the animal excrement and decaying rodent bodies squelching beneath our feet, and it's all we can do not to see and smell the village. She draws us in with the creepiest of moments, such as the young girl rubbing her dead cat all over Irene's chest and belly, and then shocks us with a roar, a dark shape lunging, and startling white teeth snapping. The juxtaposition of the two is where the power of the narrative lies.

Vicky and Irene are strong characters to lead the story, twin sisters with their own distinct personalities who are engaging and relatable. They bicker and argue, and don't always agree, but there's an unmistakable bond there that allows us to hope for the best. Although I was fearing the same old dog-saves-the-day trope, Ronnie is actually an interesting addition to the story, with a satisfyingly dark role to play in the climax. The village of Basard and its Halloween celebration are what attracted me to the book in the first place, and that setting is everything I could have hoped for, with odd townsfolk (Fergal especially), unnerving events, peculiar mysteries, and just enough doubt to genuinely wonder just what was real.

That said, the story is a bit wordy at times, with a lot of filler in the first third that I think holds the story back. I was curious, and I liked the book, but it didn't really become a page-turner until the last few chapters. Perversely perhaps, as much  as I enjoyed the spectacle of ritual and loved the mindless hunger, I did chafe a bit against the holy salvation of Father McBride - it's just one of those horror tropes that sort of defeats my interest. All in all, though, 7 Days in Hell is a satisfyingly dark and sometimes gory slice of horror, one where nobody is safe and survival is pretty much as happy an ending as we can hope for.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ 1/2

My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

About Iseult Murphy

Iseult Murphy started writing at a young age, entertaining her family with magazines that she wrote and illustrated as a child. In her teens, she won several local and national short story competitions, including three time overall winner of the RDS Young Science Writers competition, and had work placed in international writing competitions such as the BBC Wildlife Poetry competition.

Iseult is drawn to horror, fantasy and science fiction, as she feels that the most difficult aspects of life can be best explored through the lens of speculative fiction.

She currently resides on the east coast of Ireland with five dogs, two cats, a parrot and a couple of humans. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, art and spending time with her animals.