Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Bookwyrm's Review of Hell High: Succubus! by Michael-Scott Earle

Succubus! cover art

 Author: Michael-Scott Earle

Pages/Length:  95 pages/ 1 hr, 33 mins.

Publisher: Michael-Scott Earle

Release Date: September 21, 2016/ December 14, 2016 (Audio)

Narrator: David Dietz

 I read the premise of Hell High and thought it sounded like dark comedy with lots of potential. After reading them, I have to say I was right! A lot of fun dark humor ensues.

Sherman is finally a senior in high school. That doesn't matter much, because a nerdy, anime and comics addicted kid like him, who is literally ignored and overlooked by everyone, even his parents,  has no chance to get Charlotte, the girl of his dreams. Sounds like any 80's teen comedy, right? Did I mention that the girl of his dreams has wings and tail? Or that 9 out of 10 students in school is some kind of supernatural creature, whether it be Devil, Vampire, Werewolf, Naga or just about any other creature you can imagine? Sherman has seen them his whole life, so sees nothing unusual in the variety of "people" After following Charlotte as she left the cafeteria in an unusual rush, Sherman follows her into the Boiler room, where she confronts him. He lets slip he can see her true form, which is supposed top be impossible. He lets slip he can see ALL their true forms. This is a problem, since there are many factions actively fighting one another, and they are not allowed to show their true forms on Earth. This is especially a problem since Charlotte has been sent to assassinate a devil, and has been unable to find him so far.

After Charlotte confronts and kills the devil, all hell breaks loose, somewhat literally, as some of his fellow supernaturals of his faction discover his body and give chase. Since there are multiples of them, this doesn't look good for Sherman and Charlotte as they try to escape. After pulling the fire alarm of the school in hopes of escaping from the crowd, they are almost captured. Sherman somehow finds another ability, that of breaking glamours. As every supernatural lays exposed in true form, fights to the death suddenly burst out all throughout the school! The scene is played for laughs and horror at the same time.

Thus starts a wild chase as Charlotte and Sherman have to escape what has become an all out supernatural war. Dodging flying body parts, fireballs and talons, Charlotte and Sherman have to also avoid the faculty, who happen to be huge armed devils. After a harrowing run, Charlotte and Sherman manage to find a place to try and make their escape, and barely escape with their lives. Of course, the escape is to Hell, not exactly a place Sherman wants to visit.

I was really pleased with the characters in this book. Sherman comes across as a real person, and his musing to himself about Charlotte, comics, manga and other pop culture make for some hilarious scenes. Sherman bases his actions a lot of the time on stuff he's seen in comics and manga. Just funny stuff. Charlotte is also a fun character. Going back and forth from teen girl and big bad succubus assassin, its hilarious watching her try to deal with Sherman's mooning over her, especially since she, like everyone else, can't remember his right name. Since it's a shorter story, the rest of the characters aren't as fleshed out, they are still filled out enough to make good contributions to the story. The high school setting felt real, like every high school I've ever been in. 

David Dietz handles the narration. He does a great job switching between characters, and gives each character a life of their own. His narrative pacing is good, and really sucks you in to the story.

All in all, this is a fun novella that is a good start to a series I hope goes into quite a few more volumes.

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