Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go by Dale E. Bayse

 

When the Harry Potter series ended five years ago everyone began desperately searching for a new series to read, after they dried their eyes and repeated the mantra “life goes on” even though it certainly didn’t feel like it.

I tried everything, I typed, sounding like a drug addict. I could get into some easily and then be bored by the third or fourth book. Certainly nothing was going to hold my interest for seven! The closest I’ve come is Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series (the most recent of which to be blogged about later) which just released it’s seventh book AND it was just announced that an eighth is due out in July.

But during the lulls between Artemis Fowl I found Dale E. Basye’s Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go. It’s brilliant. The protagonists are unique and interesting, the villains are devious and scheming yet you can’t help but like them a little bit, and the setting is ingenious. The plot follows Milton and Marlo Fauster from just before their deaths and details their time spent in Heck, a mellowed out version of Hell, where kids wait to find out which circle of Heck they’ll be sentenced to. Knowing there are nine circles of Hell, it was easy to see this series was going to take a while. However, I never got bored with it because there was so much action in each novel. It never felt like the author was dragging the story out just to take up shelf space at Barnes and Noble (I’m sure you can think of a few authors that do this). One of the most fun things about reading this book for English majors is to pick up all the literary references and puns.

I’m about halfway through the fourth book, Fibble, and I was really into it until the author made the decision to include himself in the story. He interacts with one of the main villains and it seems like he’ll now become part of the narrative. I’m interested to see how it plays out, for example the only book I can think of that did this well was Lemony Snickett’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. I’m still liking the story and plugging along at it but that move definitely made me consider some of the choices I’m making in my own novel.