It’s Scaretober, y’all! Woot! Woot!
Get ready. I’m pulling out the stops. October is my favorite month of the year. To celebrate I’ll be telling you about my favorite horror and horror comedy books and movies all month long! Need a few ideas for your reading list? I’ve got you covered. Wondering what delightfully bad schlock film you should watch this Trick or Treat? Stop back by, I’ve got one for you. Because it’s Scaretober, y’all. The days are short and those pumpkins ain’t gonna carve themselves. Halloween is night, so let’s get to it!
Today’s feature is a book called “Hell’s Super” by Mark Cain.
I ran across this little gem of a book last month. It’s well written, clever and immediately had me laughing. (That isn’t something I can always say!) It’s the first in the five-book Circles In Hell series. I will be reading them all.
Hell’s Super is the story of Steve Minion, a murdered economics professor who has died and gone to hell. He is living out his afterlife as hell’s handyman. In life, he hated fixing things, so much so that being forced to fix things (poorly) in hell is his eternal punishment.
The work orders pile high every day. He never gets ahead. He never does a good job. The parts he needs are never in stock. Of course they aren’t. I mean, it’s hell. If he actually succeeded and got the work finished, that wouldn’t be punishment for him, would it? Or for the other residents of hell. Their afterlife wouldn’t be as miserable if the train came on time, the coffee tasted good, the showers were warm, and the souls had even the most basic comforts, convenience, or function.
When we meet Steve, he’s on the cusp of disaster, even moreso than usual. The escalator that ushers the damned from the Pearly Gates (and St. Peter is definitely a stuck-up sticky beet in this story) is broken. The alternative, an old-school staircase, had been slowly dismantled over the past five hundred years. Poor Steve has to figure out how to fix the escalator and rebuild the stairs, as quickly as possible. (Using Satan’s personal pet, Booh, a terrifying giant vampire bat as his primary mode of transportation.)
As Steve goes about his work, he discovers that the escalator didn’t break, it was sabotaged. A rebellion is brewing in hell, run by a mysterious faction called the Hellions, whose mob-like goons’ eternal punishment is being forced to intimidate enemies while wearing giant pink tutus.
There are a lot of reasons to love this book, but a big part of the appeal for me is the clever world-building and the people we meet who are living out their ironic torment in hell.
First off, Orson Welles is Steve’s assistant. His torture is always having to assist, never being able to be in charge or to ‘direct’ a project. We run into Melvil Dewey, inventor of the Dewey Decimal System, who is damned to shelve the books in hell’s library repeatedly, because the books get up and move wherever they want to right after he shelves them. Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison are there, too, and their torture is, well, working together. For history geeks like me, this is comedy gold.
As we move through the circles, solving the mystery and rebuilding the broken bits of hell, we learn that no one quite understands why some people go to heaven and other seemingly worthy people have been sent to hell instead.
And I’m going to stop right there for fear of spoilers. If you like dark comedy with supernatural elements, you’ll like this book. To me, it has the same vibe as the Dead Like Me TV series, and books like Christopher Moore’s Secondhand Souls and Pine Cover series, including Practical Demonkeeping .
Now, come on back tomorrow for more Scaretober fun!
Also, don’t forget, my new horror-comedy novel “24/7 Demon Mart: The Graveyard Shift” is on sale now!