Friday, February 17, 2023

Thoughts About On Earth As It Is in Hell

Hey'a, all! If you've been following Bryan Davis's Oculus Gate series, you may already be aware that the final book, On Earth As It Is in Hell, released this month. This series has been such a wild ride, and I'm sure plenty of people were eagerly waiting to see how it would all wrap up. I'm here to provide my thoughts on the story and its ending — and, if anyone is on the fence about picking it up, to hopefully nudge you one way or the other. Of course, if you've already made up your mind, you can go order it on Amazon or add it to your Goodreads shelves.

Thoughts About On Earth As It Is in Hell

  1. This is a story with family at its core. That's the case with most of Davis's books, which I think is a big reason why I enjoy them. It's especially true of this one, where father-daughter relationships (or, more loosely, parent-child ones) really form the heart of the story and drive the narrative. We have Leo and Ben both putting everything on the line to protect and guide Iona, as they have many times before, and we have Iona grappling with her relationship with the man who raised her and some revelations about the kind of person he was. It all comes together into a really excellent theme.
  2. This one definitely feels darker than the others in the series. I think it's because, rather than dealing with a single villain or even single group of villains, a lot of this book is confronting the sin and darkness present in the world as a whole, including human trafficking, abortion, and various forms of abuse, both overt and more subtle. As usual, Davis handles the topics well, but he also doesn't shy away from showing these tragedies or their effects, which means this may be a hard book to read at times — though it's certainly worth reading if you can handle it.
  3. I really want to go back and reread/finish reading the Reapers trilogy. I never actually finished reading the Reapers trilogy due to it coming out while I was at Cedarville and was therefore falling behind on 90% of new releases (plus the fact that I didn't love the first book as much as some Davis books, and therefore had lower motivation to read the rest of the trilogy instead of reading other new books that I was more excited about). But reading the Oculus Gate series, especially this one and Heaven Came Down, make me want to fix that — not because I'm confused for lack of knowledge, but because the stuff being drawn from that series strikes me as cool and means I'm more interested in going back to it. (The series also makes me want to reread Time Echoes, but that's pretty much normal regardless of what I've been reading lately.)
  4. As with Heaven Came Down, this is probably best enjoyed if you reread the rest of the Oculus Gate books before you read this one. Had I been a bit smarter, I would have remembered that and refreshed my memory just so I didn't end up scrambling in some cases to remember the significance of particular things that happen or are referenced. These books are so packed with twists, turns, and everything happening all at once that sometimes things get lost. It's still enjoyable even if you don't have time to go back and revisit the rest of the series, though, so don't let that stop you from picking it up.
  5. I do think that the denouement could have used a little more breathing room so that certain things didn't feel quite so convenient. This may be a case of the pot calling the kettle black, and there were definitely some elements of the story's end that I very much appreciated. However, there were also a few developments that felt a bit like Davis was just trying to wrap up plot threads as quickly as possible so he didn't accidentally end up needing to write another book. It's not a huge issue, and it does work, but it is something I think could have been done better.

Have you been keeping up with the Oculus Gate series? Are you excited for the series conclusion? Do you tend to prefer long or short wrap-ups? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

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