Book Review: “Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go” by Dale E. Basye

January 15, 2018

Milton Fauster is a good little boy, but his sister Marlo is a bad seed. Because of her, he spends his last moments on Earth as an unwitting accomplice to petty theft. Their standoff in the food court of the Grizzly Mall in Generica, Kansas, ends tragicomically, thanks to an unlucky combination of “the state’s second-largest bear-themed marshmallow statue” and a stick of dynamite. Don’t ask. The point is, before Milton has time to make peace with his maker, he and Marlo find themselves eternally darned. Darned to Heck.

Welcome to the under-18 section of the afterlife, where every aspect of childhood that makes (or made) you long to be a grown-up is boosted to the gazillionth power and prolonged endlessly. It’s basically a crummy school, ruled by the Principal of Darkness, Bea “Elsa” Bubb, and her three-headed Pekingese Cerberus. The hallways are patrolled by demons wielding giant sporks. The cafeteria serves only gross food like overcooked Brussels sprouts and undercooked liver. The Kinderscare facility is run by big, green, hairy Boogeypeople, and the classes include ethics (taught by Richard Nixon), home ec (with Lizzie Borden), and physical education (with Blackbeard the pirate). It’s a place where time is meaningless, and the kids are stuck there until the end of time or until they turn 18 – whichever comes first.

Naturally, Milton and Marlo begin to plan their escape. It will be tricky. Parts of it will involve a pet ferret who isn’t all that he seems, a fat kid named Virgil, a dog-headed god, and a tunnel that drains all the sewers in the real world. You might want to take notes. There can’t be very many holes in the security system of Purgatory and Limbo.

It’s a (heh, heh) spirited romp through the afterlife, full of impish humor and under-the-potty gross-outitude. There’s even a bit of redemptive love in it. But if you find that the end seems not quite finished, fear not. There’s a sequel, titled Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck, and at least six more books after that. Who knows? The series might go on (evil laugh) eternally…

Interested? Buy a copy here.