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Lance Barnwell ‘H is for Hell’ Review


Written by: Matthew J. Barbour

Poetry is underappreciated, especially in the horror genre. It shouldn’t be. Horror is about raw emotion. No style of literature captures raw emotion better than poetry. It can be humorous or shocking. It can rhyme or hit hard. It can be accessible or avant-garde. Almost all early horror writers wrote poetry. Yet, it has become something of a lost art that is only now starting to gain ground once more.

H is for Hell is the second poetry collection by British author Lance Barnwell. It contains forty poems, including:

Darkest Demons

The Fever

Dominion

The Beacon

Hocus Pocus

The Ivy Cottage

Shadows of the Moon

The Ghosts of Marston Moor

All our Gods

Hide and Seek

Trapped in the Black

Radioactive

Pseudo Superhuman

The Realm of the Harlequin King

Telepaths

Treble Six

Nyctophobia

Snow-White Dove

The Pagan Heist

We Burned Together

The Devil’s Spawn

Dead by Dawn

Zombie

A Cupid Stunt

Felo de Se

Perfect Wars

Black Flags

The Midnight Hour

ECT (Electroconvulsive Torture)

New Eden Garden

We are the Ghosts

The Black Castle

So Many Voices

One Eye Blind

Your Bloody Hands

Slipknot

Vampire Hunters

It Creeps

The Word of Man

H is for Hell!

While the prose often rhymes and there is some underlying humor, this poetry is not meant for children. Topics range from serial killers and suicide to atheist rants and demonic chants. Barnwell has a decidedly cynical world view, not out of line with Anton LaVey’s Satanism. Those that buy into that particular philosophy will find psychic vampires a common theme throughout many of the works.

However, you needn’t be a Satanist to enjoy the collection. Two of the strongest poems are “The Pagan Heist” and “Slipknot.” “The Pagan Heist” is a condemnation of the Christmas holiday, while “Slipknot” examines one man’s fascination with death through asphyxiation. Another, “The Ghosts of Marston Moor,” takes a decidedly historical approach to the futility of war.

Where H is for Hell stumbles is in the editing process. While Barnwell does an excellent job of capturing raw emotion, several times obtuse stanzas hurt the flow of the poems in which they are included. For example, “Trapped in the Black” is a stronger statement if stopped at the end of the third stanza.

Balancing refinement with raw emotion is a difficult, if not impossible, task. It is made worse in a medium that is often deeply personal, like poetry. With H is for Hell, Barnwell offers the reader a chance to see the world through his eyes. It is a shocking and uncompromising vision worthy of a look.

Order it right here.

Rating: 3/5

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About The Overseer (1669 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

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