Infurno: The Nine Circles of Furry Hell, Edited by Thurston Howl – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Infurno: The Nine Circles of Furry Hell, edited by Thurston Howl. Illustrated by Drkchaos.
Lansing, MI, Thurston Howl Publications, April 2018, trade paperback, $14.99 (278 [+ 1] pages).

Infurno certainly looks like a descent into Furry Hell. It’s printed in white type on black paper – all 278 pages of it. The full-page illustrations by Drkchaos (identified in the blurb as Joseph Chou) add to the book’s grim aspect.

Actually, Infurno makes a good companion volume to the publisher’s Arcana: A Tarot Anthology, edited by Madison Scott-Clary and also illustrated by Joseph Chou. But where that anthology was weird-horror, this one is more horror-disgusting.

Infurno presents 14 stories themed around the Nine Circles of Dante’s Inferno, divided by a Prologue, eight Interludes, and an Epilogue; unsigned but presumably by the anthology’s editor, Thurston Howl. There are one each for Limbo, Lust, Heresy, and Fraud, and two for Gluttony, Greed, Wrath, Violence, and Treachery.

Kyle (sub, jackal) and Terry (dom, squirrel), two gay lovers working alone at Feral Electronics at night, are summoned to the building’s ninth basement floor. (The building doesn’t have nine basements.) There Atha, a mysterious gazelle, leads them further down a staircase.

Atha, their guide into the Inferno, tells them they must witness the final memories of 14 damned souls. Some of the Interludes are more horrific than the stories:

“A three-headed dog as large as a skyscraper loomed over the ocean. The waves themselves, though high and mobile, were thick and viscous, oily yet solid. Breaking the surface all around the dog were drowning souls. When one would breach the surface right below one of the massive heads, the head would swoop down and grab the unfortunate spirit by its head, fling it around it, chew it, and swallow it.” (p. 48) {The sea is shit, not water.]

In “Blur” by Weasel (Limbo), they meet Ely, a white lab mouse who has gotten sick of always giving blow jobs for money and tries to leave that life. “But you can’t stay a whore forever. I started getting tired of sucking dick. The taste of cum started to burn my stomach each time I swallowed.” (p. 18)

In “A New Toy” by Tarl “Voice” Hoch (Lust), Anderson, a fox pornography store owner, is offered ten new Lovecraftian sex toys. “The first impression the toy gave me was of something vagina-pink that I couldn’t make heads of tails of. There were multiple holes that looked like insertion points for a penis, but their locations didn’t make any logical sense.” (p. 38) Moral: don’t stick your prick into any hole if you don’t know where it leads.

In “Down Among the Damned” by R. S. Pyne (Gluttony), Ray Drayner (fox) is a character like Mr. Creosote in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, but where Monty Python played the ridiculously-obese Mr. Creosote for laughs, Ray is an overweight unfunny sadist. “At close to two hundred and eighty pounds, a beleaguered heart registered its distress with the first in a series of minor cardiac arrests. Ray ignored his doctor’s advice to cut down on rich, fatty foods and smoking, give up alcohol, and take more exercise. The glutton’s mantra ruled: life was too short to eat salad and low-fat dressing, or walk anywhere – pass the heavy cream and maple syrup glazed bacon bits.” (p. 52)

“Go Nuts for Donuts” by Jensyn Grayves (Gluttony) features Mike, a raccoon who seems more of a slob and a snob than a glutton. He won’t give any of his company’s leftover donuts to the homeless men (cats) in the company parking lot (“If Brianna wanted to give free food and coffee to these disgusting, lazy, homeless people that couldn’t be bothered to hold down a job, let her. He wouldn’t stoop so low to support their poor life choices.” –p. 68), so when they kill him for not giving them any donuts, his soul goes to the second level of Hell. (Huh?)

“The Eye of Aquana” by Faolan (Greed) features two otter thieves who, when they aren’t stealing, engage in graphic homosexual pleasures. The reader must guess which of them will come to a final memory.

In “The Cold” by Cedric Bacon (Greed), two friends, Masterson (husky) and Bones (setter) go prospecting for gold in the far North. They strike it rich, but Bones gets frostbitten and they delay leaving for town until a blizzard traps them in their cabin. As they wait, Masterson becomes greedy.

“As he looked at Bones, Masterson realized their partnership was always one with a singular purpose. And as far as he was concerned, that purpose was fulfilled when they found the gold. It was Bones who had not held up his end of the bargain, not Masterson.

He glanced down at his feet and saw the sack filled with their gold. It was no longer a matter of dividing it fifty-fifty. Masterson felt he was owed much more than just half. He had a mind to take all of Bones’ share, and he was more than tempted to wake the setter and tell him just that.” (p. 102)

What will Masterson do, and what will happen to him?

“A Cat in Hell’s Chance” by James Hudson (Wrath) cleverly presents a stereotyped animated cartoon cat-&-mouse situation in a more realistic scenario. Jim (cat), crazy with hatred, is determined to kill Terry (mouse) with stacks of dynamite:

“The thought of Terry’s face had thrown Jim into another downward spiral of despair and self-loathing. Even as he imagined his victory, he could not help but linger on the memories of his many defeats. Whether the threat made against Terry had been a legal, verbal, or physical one, he had always been able to side-step it with a grin on his face as if it had been nothing. Jim couldn’t imagine anyone sidestepping an explosion.” (p. 114)

In “Je Reviendrai” by Kirisis (Wrath), Georgia (red panda), an unpleasant woman, is determined to force her philandering stoat husband to submit to her will. This story goes on after the damned soul’s death.

“Metal Hellth” by Ferric (Heresy) features Justin, a Canadian lynx punk rock musician whose act is simulating a black mass on stage including a flaming summoning of Satan. When he dies of a heroin overdose, he finds himself on an infernal stage having to perform for a real devilish audience:

“This was his punishment. For all eternity, he’d be forced to sing the same song as he got burned alive in painful agony, barely even uttering a word as the flames surrounded him in their unforgiving heat and scorching pain. All for writing a few songs about how great this place was.” (p. 167)

“In the Name of Science” by Allison Thai (Violence) is narrated by Sorae Ishii (weasel), in Japan in 1941 who is invited to join his father’s research team in Manchukuo. The World War II German medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners is well-known (Dr. Josef Mengele was called “the Angel of Death”), but the similar Japanese medical experiments in Manchukuo are ignored by comparison. At the end of the war Ishii commits what he says is honorable suicide rather than trying to survive in disguise or in hiding. The reader is left to assume what happens to his soul.

“A Soul Removed” by Stephen Coghlan (Violence) focuses upon Seers, a teenage bull terrier. It seems at first that his sin is Lust, but this is the Circle of those who died in Violence. Guess how.

In “Waiting” by TJ Minde (Fraud), Page (mouse) and Xander (skunk) are gay lovers. Xander thinks only of having sex together, while Page would rather go out on dates and postpone the sex. Guess where the Fraud is.

In “Those Delicate Fingers” by Hypetaph (Treachery), Maverick, a werewolf, decides to make his Nora, his girlfriend, his next victim. That’s treachery. Of course, the story has a surprise.

“The Night Betrayed” by Jaden Drackus (Treachery) features Shadow, a black jaguar assassin serving in the Nightguard of a medieval Emperor. He sends Shadow and his mate, Ra’jarr (caracal) to eliminate the Countess of Tornheim (sika deer), a sadist who has been killing her subjects and may be plotting against him – treachery, for sure.

After this, Kyle’s and Terry’s tour is supposed to take them to the pleasanter realms of Purrgatorio and Pawradiso – but not unmarked.

Infurno is a furry horror anthology that really delivers.

Fred Patten

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