Review: Hellfinder - Paula Stokes
Young Adult, Adventure
Published: August 2023, Fitzroy Books
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Demonically obsessed metal-bands, gunslinging grandma’s and perilous adventures through volcanic-cave systems all feature at the centre of this fast-paced YA-adventure set against the background of the Icelandic wilderness. If you’re looking for an action packed novel that reads like an adventure movie or Netflix series with a light supernatural twist, this one is for you.
When Rory Quinn spends her winter-break with her adventurous, treasure-hunting grandmother, she finds herself unexpectedly swept up in Gram’s latest contract; retrieve a blood-smeared stone that legend says will lead whoever possesses it to the nearest doorway to Hell. They’re not the only once hunting the volcanic caves of Iceland for this rock, however. From a heavy-metal band who want the stone as a prop for their next show, to a secret society who believe in the demonic powers the legends profess; Rory, Gram and their clients ridiculously handsome grandson enter a race against the clock to get to the stone first.
The author has stated that the idea for Hellfinder started out, not with characters or a plot, but with a setting. This shows, in the sense that the rugged Icelandic landscapes and breath-taking nature are the heart and soul of this novel. I felt like I was right there with the characters, exploring volcanic caves, geysers and frozen tundra’s. That, along side with the fast-moving plot kept me engaged throughout, and made up for the novels weaker points.
The characters were hit-or-miss for me. Although there was some fun banter here and there, the best character of all (sassy Gunslinging-Grandma of course) felt seriously underused. The family-dynamics and interactions between Rory and her grandma took a backseat in favour of the building romance between Gunnar and Rory. Personally I would love to see more focus on family- and friendship in modern YA, instead of the same overdone and slightly cringy romantic banter all over again. A stronger focus on Rory (and her family’s) past, could’ve added a layer of depth to the story that would’ve elevated it above a fun adventure. As it stands, Hellfinder ends up with three-stars; good fun, great setting, but ultimately a little unmemorable in plot and characters.
Bonuspoints for the cover, which is absolutely stunning.
Many thanks to Fitzroy Books and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Find this book here on Goodreads.