Hell Bent by Calista Lynne is a very unique young adult novella. It is excellently written, but a very different story than anything I’ve ever read. That’s a good thing. We should all occasionally step out of our comfort zone and try something new.
This is the story of seventeen year old Julia (Jules) Tolliver, who decides to try and save her favorite actor Marcus. You see, Marcus has died and (Jules believes) has gone to Hell, so she performs a binding spell and binds a demon named Ash to herself. Then she tricks Ash into taking her to Hell hoping to find and somehow save Marcus from his fate. Thus begins a road trip through Hell, beginning with Purgatory and continuing across the damned region into places that are disturbing, outlandish, horrifying, and at the same time terrifyingly familiar. Along the way Jules and Ash mingle with other demons, monsters, and even The Fates. Jules also finds out some things about herself, including the fact that she likes girls…in the romantic sense. What this means for Marcus you will have to read to find out.
I will mention here that I’m not the target audience for this tale. Having said that, I admit I got hooked by this story and could not stop reading it until the end. Even as I was muttering, “What the hell (pun intended) am I reading?” I would continue on to the next page and the next chapter. When I mentioned what I was reading to our two sons, who are in the target age range, they understood the tale immediately.
The setting and the characters both make this story. The descriptions of the different places are really scary because they have a touch of reality even in their grotesqueness. Both Jules and Ash are well-developed as are all the other demons and monsters we meet in the tale. The story itself is irreverent and quirky. It’s sure to catch the interest of those who read it. I recommend this novella to young adults as well as those who want to stretch their reading habits and read something different.
I received an ARC from Bywater Books for an honest review.