A Puzzled Review | A Walk Through Hell Volume #1

Ever picked up a graphic novel that was as intriguing as it was confusing and left you sitting there like wtf?

Let’s talk about A Walk Through Hell, Volume #1


When two fellow agents go missing inside a Long Beach warehouse, Shaw and McGregor are sent to investigate. But what they find waiting is far from routine, as the local police have already discovered to their cost. Before the night is out, our heroes will encounter terror beyond their most appalling nightmares—in a place where the night may never end at all.

A Walk Through Hell Vol. 1

It’s hard to know where to start with this graphic novel, so I think I should start with the things A Walk Through Hell Volume 1 succeeded at:

Premise, Themes, and Characters

Premise:

A Walk Through Hell as it is in its first volume follows two FBI agents along a dual-timeline of events, one beginning with the investigation of a series of grizzly child disappearances, the other being the disappearance of two fellow agents in a mysterious warehouse that turns out to be more than it appears. They end up trapped there as the story bounces back and forth between the investigation and their haunting and downright gory journey through the warehouse. A fever dream of confusion, paranoia, and suspicion follows them. Is the warehouse and its horrific contents even a real place? Are they dead? Being punished?

Shaw and McGregor certainly don’t know, and by the end of volume one, neither will you.

It’s cop thriller meets psychological horror in a melding of themes that would butter any horror/thriller fan’s biscuit, converging in a weird, twisted plot line that reveals a monumental secret and is loaded with gore, time-relevant political and social commentary, and the lingering question over whether or not the best intentions justify horrific means.

Themes & Characters:

Throughout A Walk Through Hell, I thought the characters fit really well into these elements, particularly the two main agents Shaw and McGregor who end up being interesting ideological foils to each other. Shaw, who is still hung up by their previous case and on a steady roll to burning out while being fairly done with everything going on around them. Then there’s McGregor, who is more idealistic if not acidicaly aware of the current social climate that has himself (a gay man) and other marginalized people in the shitter as far as social standing goes. I liked McGregor and Shaw as a team; it plays up the old-hat, new blood dynamic that a lot of cop dramas go for, with a fresh take on it. While McGregor and Shaw certainly are meant to represent certain archetypes, I enjoyed the depth they were given and they bring out each other’s best and worst traits, playing up each other nicely.

Side by side the jarring investigation Shaw and McGregor work through is relevant sociopolitical commentary: women in male-dominated fields, gay men in those same fields, racism and the rise of fascism in a supposed democratic nation, are among the day-to-day hell hurdles that Shaw and McGregor have to deal with in addition to the actual hell they experience in the warehouse, and like any good horror/thriller, I felt the nods to bigger themes outside of gratuitous gore was a plus.

Where it all Falls Apart

Where A Walk Through Hell has an arguably interesting premise, compelling characters, and (very) pretty artwork, this first volume as a whole was all over the place. When reading a thriller, particularly one based in a police/FBI investigative atmosphere, there’s going to be questions unanswered, confusion, etc. It’s a part of the genre. The problem with A Walk Through Hell is by having two intertwined plot lines relevant to each other, writing needs to be tight and it was sloppy at best, which did not help for the cohesion of plot at all. At times this dual-timeline telling felt gimmicky at the detriment to fully enjoying the story.

Furthermore, its themes, in theory, are great but lack in execution. The presence of conversations about how McGregor feels about racism, for example, is appreciated, but ham-fisted as if to say ‘look, this story will have politics. Look at all the politics. Did I mention politics?’ Showing v. telling, etc., etc. For a graphic novel, I expect to be shown more than I am told, and I’m fully invested in the idea that the backdrop of the sociopolitical themes of A Walk Through Hell could have been smoothed out to feel like they actually belonged in the story as opposed to an afterthought or something sprinkled on top to make it a little more intriguing or patronizingly appealing to readers who are invested in sociopolitical issues outside of fiction.

Final Thoughts

A Walk Through Hell has promise, I’ll give it that. Despite the messiness of the writing in this first volume, I want to know what happens in subsequent volumes, which I think is a success to say that I’m still intrigued even if mildly put off by how disorganized the actual method of storytelling was.

Big thank you to NetGalley & Diamond Book Distributors for a copy of A Walk Through Hell Vol. 1


A Walk Through Hell is for you if: you’re into cop drama/thrillers with a heavy hit of horror, enjoy gore, like political commentary in your horror/thriller, want to be held on tenterhooks while you read, and eat up psychological foolery.

Warnings for this Volume: Gore, physical and sexual violence.


ARC Review | Sparks of Phoenix

My idea of poetry stems largely from high school English class, sloughing through sonnets and unpleasantly dense prose. When I picked up Sparks of Phoenix it was in an exercise to see if I could break the preconception that required reading had instilled in me about poetry, poets, and what a person could take away from a collection of poetry.

I was not disappointed.

Let’s take a look at Sparks of Phoenix, by Najwa Zebian.

Continue reading “ARC Review | Sparks of Phoenix”

A Review | The Belles: Beautiful & Poingant

Sometimes you come across books that are pretty; other times you come across books that are downright beautiful.

Let’s talk about The Belles.

Heavily inspired by New Orléans culture and French roots, The Belles is a decadent young adult fantasy that enticed me first with the sheer beauty in which it was written, and then kept me interested with rich world-building, a page-turning plot, and a main character that I couldn’t help but root for. Throw in sprinklings of forbidden love, court secrets, and betrayals I didn’t expect but probably should have, The Belles surprised me by how enjoyable and interesting I found it. From page one I wanted to dive straight into Orléans, experience the lavish balls, explore the colorful cities, and perhaps even book my own appointment at one of the many tea houses through which the Belles complete their beauty work—if I didn’t know the tea houses’ true nature, that is.

Continue reading “A Review | The Belles: Beautiful & Poingant”

A Survivor’s Take on Emergency Contact

A Quick CW: I’ll be talking about sexual assault in this post. While nothing goes into graphic detail, please be aware and take care of yourself when choosing to read.


For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Emergency Contact, Mary H.K. Choi

Sexual trauma in YA is nothing new. Underlying or overt themes of sexual assault and abuse are a prevalent topic and their inclusion and execution in teen and YA fiction, be it within books, shows, or movies, is a conversation that I see, but generally don’t engage in often. This is for a number of reasons tending to boil down to the fact that most of the time, there aren’t enough spoons to pull myself through the hundreds of voices sounding that probably don’t need my opinion on what’s a hashed-and-rehashed topic anyway.

Emergency Contact, however, is a book I feel should be discussed.

Continue reading “A Survivor’s Take on Emergency Contact”

ARC Review | A Deep Dive into Deep Cosmos

However, it seemed like, through all the scattered words, he simply wanted to know who she was and reassure her that she was safe. She felt that this was very sweet of him, even if his methods of expressing it were primitive at best.


Deep Cosmos, Project Kyle

The Run-Down

Deep Cosmos is a science fiction novel written by Project Kyle that explores trauma, friendship, and the growth that can happen when the two collide in the middle of deep space. When Nerd, an operative of the not-so-secret organization known as Deep Cosmos, saves Sophia, a warrior, from his nemesis Doctor Crimson, the pair are immediately thrown into a race to save a universe full of problems. From rouge mercs, to mad scientists, space is far from a peaceful final frontier for Sophia and Nerd. We follow them through daring escapes, intergalactic plagues, and tumultuous pasts that seek to catch up with them at every turn.

Continue reading “ARC Review | A Deep Dive into Deep Cosmos”

ARC Review | Not Like Everyone Else

Ryan can’t seem to get her memories in order. When she breaks it off with her long-term boyfriend, Corey, she can’t help but feel free. But mysterious events keep Ryan asking, “Just what happened?” After her family moved to Ryton, after Carter goes missing, after Jacob is in the hospital. All of these afters, but Ryan can’t remember the befores. With Harper and Elliot by her side, Ryan can only hope that she does not forget… again. Will Ryan be able to recover her memory to figure out what happened when it all went dark?


As soon as I read this synopsis, I knew I wanted to read this book. I’m a big sucker for memory-related mysteries and this promised to be a book full of them, jam-packed into a psychological thriller that would have me devouring chapter after chapter.

So… When I initially began reading, I couldn’t help but ask, what have I gotten myself into? The preconceived notion that I got from the synopsis was immediately challenged at the start of the first page. It made me want to read more, and the more I read, the more questions I had. I didn’t expect the immediate, gritty murderous POV, and it had me wondering and wanting to find out how it related to Ryan and her circumstances. Where would these stories converge?

Continue reading “ARC Review | Not Like Everyone Else”