By: Mark Cain
Narrated by: Michael Gilboe
GoodReads Summary: How can one damned handyman keep all Hell running when everything’s always breaking, devils and demons plot against him … and he’s terrible at fixing things?
Steve is Hell’s Super, its handyman. Being Mr. Fixit to the Underworld keeps him and his assistant, Orson Welles (yes, that Orson Welles), pretty busy, since things go on the blink all the time down there.
No malfunction has ever created so much inconvenience, though, as the malfunction of Hell’s Escalator, which leads from the Pearly Gates to the depths of Hades. What’s worse: the breakdown appears to be sabotage. Satan calls in Steve to investigate.
But Steve is distracted these days. He’s in love with Flo, a gorgeous, almost saintly figure who has come to Hell by choice to ease the suffering of the damned. What’s more: she seems to like him, but romance in Hell? That could never be.
Still, solving the mystery of the Escalator could earn him some points with Satan, maybe even a chance with Flo.
Or maybe not.
Hell’s Super Is the first volume in the satire/fantasy comedy series, Circles in Hell. It has been compared to other works of “Hell Fiction” including The Screwtape Letters and Good Omens and to the paranormal humor of Tom Holt, Christopher Moore and Douglas Adams.
(I received a free copy for an honest review.)
So I am very glad I avoided glancing through the reviews before beginning this one. I really loved just diving into the world of Steve, Hell’s handyman, without any expectations. I was barely a chapter in when I determined I would like this one. In addition, the voice of the narrator…I knew I’d heard it before. Welcome the familiar voice of Michael Gilboe from Frankenstein: IT Support by James Livingood, truly my favorite of Mr. Livingood’s stories. (Well, at least what I’ve read so far.)
Mr. Gilboe gives a certain authenticity to Steve’s character. I just knew it was Steve telling the story. Add in his fantastic sound effects and the completely distinct character voices…it becomes one step below a full production.
As for the story, it does bring to mind Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams as some have said, but I was also reminded of Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim and Rob Dirk’s Where the Hell is Tesla? (books I highly recommend, btw.)
There’s a little something for everyone: comedy, absurdity, romance, and mystery.
We follow what initially appears to be a day in the life of the superintendent of Hell, learning the rules, meeting familiar historical figures. We get to browse through theological musings while never once having the main question of “Why are we here?” actually answered. The question is open to interpretation. I recommend Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series starting with On a Pale Horse (for deeper thoughts about the other side) or Wielding a Red Sword (for an insight into the Lord of Hell).
While the end isn’t completely surprising (as if Mr. Cain pulled something random out of the ether to drive us crazy), it does make sense and gives a good sense of closure.
Never fear, however, as there are more stories to come. I am excited to follow this with the sequel A Cold Day in Hell.