The Eighth Circle of Hell by Gary Dolman



The Victorian age is often held up as a shining era of British history, a time of wealth and power, of civilisation and philanthropy. It was all of these. Yet it was also a time of cruelty and depravity, where power and wealth were used to ill-purpose. It was the time of the ‘defloration mania’, where young girls were bought and sold like the slaves they became.

Elizabeth Wilson is an elderly woman who has spent a lifetime of grinding toil and poverty in a workhouse. She fled there as a young girl, pregnant and penniless, to escape her depraved uncle and his powerful friends. However, advancing dementia has caused her to regress inexorably back in her life, to the point where she is once again re-living the awful memories of her life as an orphaned child.

‘The Eighth Circle of Hell’ is a bleak study of the stark contrast between the polite, strictly ordered society of the Victorian age, and the utter depravity and exploitation of the vulnerable it shielded. This story demonstrates how in the furnace of shared adversity, enmities and friendships can be forged that will last a lifetime, and which are more enduring than the boundaries of life and death.–Description from Goodreads

Paperback, 228 pages
Published October 15th 2012 by Thames River Press (first published July 15th 2012)
0857289233 (ISBN13: 9780857289230)
edition language
My Thoughts: I really loved this book.
“The Eighth Circle of Hell” by Gary Dolman is in my opinion, what reading is all about. If only we could vote to induct a book into the hall of classic literature. This is the kind of book that is NOT a feel good, make-you-smile kind of read, but rather a beautifully written, poignant piece of literature that will take you on a journey back in history.

When I first began this book, I wasn’t sure exactly what was happening, but the confusion dissipates within the first few pages and I soon found myself riveted by this book to the point where no one could have pried it from my hands with the jaws of life. It has been a long time since I have been so disturbed, enthralled and utterly captivated by a novel.

While we tend to think of the Victorian Era as a refined age where men were the epitome of the gentlemanly image and women were treated as proper ladies, this book explores the darker side of the Victorian age. I haven’t seen this done or at least not done well in other books.

This is at times a very emotional piece of writing. I wanted to run screaming into the pages of this book and defend the honour of Elizabeth, and other times simply hold her while she cried. The way the author tells the story is incredible. Older Elizabeth’s thoughts and recollections of the abuse she suffered as a young girl are heart wrenching, and yet the writing is so amazing that even through the sadness I was compelled to keep turning pages.

This story spans the life of a young girl to that of an old woman. She is the same person, but she is different, touched by the hand of passing years. The memories she has and the life that she has led have been adjusted by Alzheimer’s Disease and she is once more reliving the past and all of the various atrocities she suffered at the hands of others. The idea for this book was very original and the follow through for that idea was perfect. I never felt this book was a let down throughout the entire time I spent reading it.

While reading the final chapters of this book, I found myself half afraid to finish it. It will be hard to find something else to read that is as finely crafted as this is.

My recommendation? Read it. Go and get a copy today and read it.

10 thoughts on “The Eighth Circle of Hell by Gary Dolman”

  1. I’m usually more of a fan of the feel-good stories, but this does sound intriguing – might have to check it out. Thanks! 🙂


  2. That’s totally what my book list looks like! I have so many reviews to do! How do you decide which ones to do?! LOL.

    But this book definitely sounds like the type that could skip ahead a bit, from your review- thanks for the suggestion! It makes me want to read it right now! 🙂


    1. I have gotten picky. I get around 300 requests a week. I used to try and accommodate them all but it is no longer humanly possible, so now I ask for samples etc and choose them by subject matter and length. Sadly I miss a lot of good books that way, but there is no alternative:(


  3. Ionia, thank you so much for your kind words. The novel is based on the true stories of hundreds of thousands of young, innocent girls and must be dedicated to them.


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