Extremely well written by a true master wordsmith, Worlds of Hurt nevertheless fell somewhat flat for me - especially through the opening three "short" tales which connect to one another in direct chronological order, and feature three characters that appear in all. In this way, Hodge develops his own mythos which is about as bleak and uninviting as anything I've previously read. Yet I never really connected to or cared for any of the protagonists, and found my attention wandering as the tales progressed.
Truth be told, I almost gave the book away mid-way through the second tale. But I'm extremely glad I persevered because the final tale, the novella World of Hurt, blew everything that came before it out of the water. It is just as bleak and well-written, but the characters come to life in this longer format. The motivations behind them are all are fascinating - as is Hodge's method for dolling out critical information one snippet at a time. Moving, engaging, and driven by a horrifying central concept, World of Hurt is everything horror should be.
All in all then, I'll average my scores for the two halves of this book to 3 stars, with the latter novella being something I wold recommend to anyone who enjoys Laid Barron's work.
3 Fake White Lights for Worlds of Hurt.