Remember this name. I know I will. After reading Sheldon Woodbury’s THE WORLD ON FIRE, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the name Louis Sedah. THE WORLD ON FIRE is Woodbury’s debut novel and he hits this one out of the park. Way out of the park. I read this in two sittings and it was extremely difficult to put down. Woodbury gives us some fantastic characters that are well fleshed out with great character arcs and development, and the story will hook you from the opening words.
Louis Sedah, also known as The Angel of Death, is a serial killer who criss-crosses his way across America slaughtering people at will. He has no motive, no pattern, and kills people in various, gory ways. When we meet Sedah, he’s already one of the most wanted men in America. Dressed in a cheap black suit, cowboy boots, and rotten teeth from eating only candy bars, Woodbury paints a frightening image of Sedah. In a move that baffles the authorities, Sedah turns himself into the authorities one day without resistance. He’s sentenced to death and sent to The Spookhouse, a maximum security prison in Colorado that houses some of the worst killers the world has ever seen.
Sedah, with help, stages a daring escape and brings with him six of the worst of the worst killers from death row to help him in his grand plan. Along for the ride are Death.com, The Hangman, Captain America, The Bombshell, Dr. Doom, and Scarface. Think THE DEVIL’S REJECTS meets CON AIR meets Charles Manson!! Sedah has no morals, no limits, and there’s nothing he won’t do to carry out his grand plan. His plan is pretty simple. He wants to change the world by setting it on fire (both literally and figuratively) and then watch it burn, and he has the means to make it happen.
THE WORLD ON FIRE is a different kind of apocalyptic book and Woodbury nails it. His writing style is quick-paced, descriptive and detailed, and he creates some fantastic characters that will haunt your nightmares. Woodbury takes us on a road trip covered in blood, smoke, fire, and death that you won’t soon forget. Woodbury also exposes an America that exists just below the surface as Sedah uses his contacts in the underground to help him in his mission to change the world. We’re introduced to some hard-partying skinheads; an aging hippie who is the leader of a commune that manufactures drugs and hides a dark secret in a pit; a sheriff who has a darker side than most of the criminals he’s hunting; a black train that’s a safe haven for the criminal underground; and a gated Disneyland-like community for gangsters, assassins, and drug kingpins. You never know what’s coming on the next page, and I couldn’t read fast enough to find out!!
Tasked with bringing down Sedah is Special Agent Locke Wright. He’s one of the best profilers the FBI has, and finding Sedah was going to be his last case before he retires. Wright is paired up with rookie Agent Akare Himura and her desire to be the best and learn from the best wins him over and he takes her under his wing. He figures that since he’s retiring, he may as well pass on his knowledge to the next generation, and Himura is more than willing. She’s a sponge who absorbs everything Wright teaches. Also in the mix is David Milton, a reporter for the tabloid, the National Enquirer, who is granted an interview with Sedah and winds up as a hostage during the prison break.
One of the main things I really enjoyed about THE WORLD ON FIRE is the way Woodbury blurs the lines of good and evil. The main characters in the novel, Sedah, Wright, Himura, and David, have complex psyche’s and aren’t you’re simple “good” or “evil” characters. Everyone has demons and its the way you handle those demons that makes you the person you are. But there’s nothing Sedah hates more than individuals who wear masks in everyday life. As Sedah says repeatedly:
Just be who the f**k you are.
Sedan wants to change the world. He wants to free people from themselves and let them be “who the f**k they are.”
You’ll love Woodbury’s writing style as he effortlessly keeps the plot moving at bullet speed and even throws in a few twists that I did not see coming and which are completely effective and work.
THE WORLD ON FIRE is a debut novel that is not to be missed. Woodbury takes us on a journey that criss-crosses across America as Sedah taps into his underground sources and puts his plan to change the world in motion. If you’re looking for a fast-paced, well-written novel full of great characters that you won’t be able to put down, then THE WORLD ON FIRE is for you. Don’t miss it!!
Author: Sheldon Woodbury
Plot: 5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 6.5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer