Peyote Trip has a pretty good gig in the deals department on the fifth floor of Hell. Sure, none of the pens work, the coffee machine has been out of order for a century, and the only drink on offer is Jägermeister, but Pey has a plan—and all he needs is one last member of the Harrison family to sell their soul.
When the Harrisons retreat to the family lake house for the summer, with their daughter Mickey’s precocious new friend, Ruth, in tow, the opportunity Pey has waited a millennium for might finally be in his grasp. And with the help of his charismatic coworker Calamity, he sets a plan in motion.
But things aren’t always as they seem, on Earth or in Hell. And as old secrets and new dangers scrape away at the Harrisons’ shiny surface, revealing the darkness beneath, everyone must face the consequences of their choices.
First of all, props to Berkley publishing for taking a chance on this novel. It’s rare that a debut author is allowed to publish something that doesn’t fit neatly into one genre. Claudia Lux does a great job taking advantage of this opportunity for the most part. Her writing is strong (a lot of showing and only a little telling), her characters are memorable, and the plot is sound.
My only issue with the writing was the pacing, which would have benefitted from a good editor. There are a couple of scenes with the characters from “hell” that were unnecessary because the society those scenes were trying to establish had already been established. This was a 400 page book that should only have been 300 pages, if I’m being honest.
So, why is this 3.5 stars instead of 4?
Well, there’s a reason most publishers don’t pick up debut novels that are “multi-genre” works: if you’re trying to fit the criteria of multiple genres into one book, you’re going to miss some criteria.
This book is a horror/comedy, mystery, with elements of fantasy. Most portions of the mystery were easy to guess (I’m looking at you, Gavin), and I didn’t find it all that funny.