Joel Hunter Gun has been writing since age ten, self-publishing several short stories on his website. The Dark Legend Of Tormentia is his first novel, and while it presents some intriguing ideas, it reveals that Mr. Gun’s writing can definitely improve.

The novel tells the story of Hunter Madox, a self-created billionaire businessman and the dark forces that not only impact his life, but also spur him forward. There is an unnecessary and lengthy foreword that comes across like a mish mash of The Twilight Zone, a Choose Your Own Adventure story, and a self-help book. It tries to set the tone for the novel but fails.

Additionally, the prose in the novel is plagued with clichés and excessive vulgarity that are probably intended to give insight into the characters but instead comes across as immature. There’s also a continual thread of sexism running throughout the text; women are shown as objects of sexual desire, envy, or hatred, and are defined by the unrealistic fantasies of the male characters.

Instead of allowing us into his mindset by being given access to his thoughts, Hunter spends most of the novel talking to himself, an odd and frustrating narrative choice. This is also true for Sadie, who portrays Madox’s lover.

Furthermore, there is no distinction between Madox’s “voice” and Sadie’s “voice,” since they both sound like they were written from the same perspective. The characters are described in relation to Hunter Madox; they don’t seem to exist on their own terms.

There are some interesting motifs in The Dark Legend Of Tormentia: addiction, nature vs. nurture, and overcoming adversity, in addition to more high-concept ones like secret societies built upon a foundation of hedonism and brutality and Palo religious rituals.

Nothing is ever adequately explained, however. We don’t know how Madox established his empire. Yes, we are told that he has acquired power and wealth, but based on his outrageous and inconsistent words and deeds, it seems implausible. Thus, we are left with many unanswered questions: What is Tormentia? How has an entire society developed around corruption and decadence? How has Hunter Madox evolved and developed as a person?

A lot detail is provided about things that don’t matter such as clothing, architecture, and the makes and models of cars. Presumably this is meant to allow the reader to visualize the novel’s environment, but sadly, it comes across like self-indulgent fan fiction.

Joel Hunter Gun might be a good writer one day if he learns how to reign in his tendencies towards excessive verbosity, creates two dimensional characters who don’t rely on cliched stereotypes, and expands his vocabulary. In The Dark Legend Of Tormentia, there is a lot of telling but precious little showing, and unfortunately, the tale that is told in this novel is not a very compelling one.