I always appreciate getting the best sale for my dollar or in this case, two books for the price of one on audible. This last time I picked up HELLHOLE by Gina Damico and another book, I’ll talk about some other day when I get around to listening to it (okay fine it was another David Wong book).
So I went into this book with open eyes, knowing very little about the author, and even less about her style of writing. I bought strictly based on reviews, which it had a lot of great ones. Namely that the narrator did some pretty fun voices. I will give him this, his voice for Berg aka 1 of many Satans, was pretty hysterical.
While on a whole, this book was enjoyable, it wasn’t a homerun. My favorite part was whenever Russell Crowbar was mentioned, and I don’t know if that’s a great brag. Maybe it was a little preachy for my tastes. This might sound ironic for a book about murder, theft, and the devil taking up residence in a teenager’s basement. But I think that’s what bothered me the most about it. Before your hackles go up, I’ll clarify. Not preachy in a religious way, but preachy in a ‘bad things happen when you tell a single lie’ kind of way.
The main character is a bit of a saint. He takes care of his dying mother, works after school and on weekends to pay the bills, and scraps by with every penny he can. He’s a good, honest, hard-working kid, who also loves paleontology. One day he steals an ugly cat for his dying mother, mind you – he’s never stolen before in his life. On this same day, he’s digging up on Ugly Hill and uncovers a satan. Turns out he only did so because he stole the cat figurine.
At first, I was like… okay, maybe the cat is possessed? But later we learn that Lore, a girl who’s also had a run in with a Satan, told a single lie to bring hers about. The fact is, what these kids did to bring on a devil was so small in comparison to the losses they experience. It felt like the moral was a scare tactic. Don’t do bad things or Satan might show up knocking on your door demanding you provide him with shelter.
The book does go on to explain that our main character became greedy and that’s why all the bad things continue to happen to him. Hell, he even get’s good at lying. Doesn’t faze him. Ultimately though, it still bothered me.
In the end, I finished it. It was an easy enough read, with some funny parts. But was it something I’d read again? Probably not. I liked it well enough, just not well enough to recommend it all that highly. It’s probably just not my cup of tea, and has nothing to do with the author, her ability to write, or the story itself.