“ Print Length: 395 pages / Publisher: Pigeon Park Press / Published: 26 July 2012 „
After the usual over-indulgences of Christmas, it's always good to have a genuine laugh to clear away all that false festive bonhomie and this little Kindle gem certainly did it for me. I've always been a bit of a sucker for a bad boy and, let's face it, they don't get much badder than Satan!
Unfortunately for him, Satan isn't reaching his targets. Although the twenty-first century has seen a huge increase in the number of people entering his domain, the quality of the intake is much lower with far too many people getting through on the strength of very minor misdemeanours. As a consequence of his failure to process the backlog satisfactorily, Satan has not only been sacked by Saint Peter, he's been sent to live in Sutton Coldfield under the pseudonym of Jeremy Clovenhoof, and Satan initially regards his new circumstances as hell on earth. He's in for a very steep learning curve, along with his new acquaintances/neighbours, Ben the nerdy bookshop owner and Nerys the good-time girl who lives upstairs.
I get a daily digest of what's available for free for my Kindle and chose this because the premise sounded appealing although as this is the first effort from this writing duo I wasn't expecting great things despite the high star ratings. I've been caught out too many times before by people raving about self published Kindle books only to be almost instantly disappointed, so I settled down to read this with a very open mind and fully expected to have to abandon it after a couple of chapters. Self-publishing occasionally produces some gems but an awful lot of dross, too. What I got here, however, was a very entertaining read that not only gave me some laugh-out-loud moments but also had a strong enough plot line and engaging characters to make me want to keep reading.
We get to view life in suburbia through the eyes of the Prince of Darkness himself, and some of his experiences give a whole new meaning to binge drinking, adverts for comparethemarket.com and heavy metal, as well as the immortal Findus Crispy Pancake. In fact, the more I got to know him, the more I began to like old Satan. He didn't have a very high opinion of us to begin with but as he continued his life on earth, he begins to reassess his feelings. Yes, we were still a bunch of puny humans as far as he was concerned but maybe life in Sutton Coldfield had more to offer than he originally thought. That didn't prevent him from trying desperately to find his way back home to Hell though.
Jeremy's neighbours may be more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to achieving his goal of getting back home but this particular pair of unprepossessing humans have the odd nugget of information which could prove useful. Ben is the archetypal nerd many will be familiar with. He's a war gamer, rather unsure in social situations, especially with women and his inter-personal relationship with Nerys upstairs got off to a very rocky start given that he thought she was coming onto him and she thought he was in publishing and could help her get her book into print. Nerys has written a self-help book for men giving them advice on how to become the perfect man. Her credentials in this respect are not good given that her idea of the perfect man is Hercule Poirot! Her passion for Hercule even led her to write to David Suchet requesting a photograph. It didn't materialise, however, possibly because she requested one of him naked. As I said at the very beginning, Nerys is something of a goodtime girl.
It's through Ben that Jeremy gets an introduction to someone who just may be able to help him get back home to Hell. Darren, or Pitspawn as he prefers to be known, is a fellow war-gamer and part-time Satanist. He's a forty-something Mummy's boy who honed his satanic skills through reading Satanism for Dummies and introduces Jeremy not only to Satanism Brit-style but also to the delights of the Findus Crispy Pancake. I think by now you can tell where this book is coming from!
Much to my surprise, this story proved to be an absolute delight. It poked fun not only at life in suburbia but also at several other sacred British cows along the way. Seeing British life through the eyes of a newbie, even if he is the borderline psychotic, Lambrini drinking Prince of Darkness, is quite revelationary. The humour is very British, being a mix of farce, slapstick and self-deprecation on behalf of British humankind and it's all very quirky and off-the-wall with some very corny jokes thrown in for good measure which nevertheless had me frequently laughing out loud.
'He was stark bollock naked?'
'Like a newborn baby and there were these two old ladies just staring at him, goggle-eyed'
'I'm surprised one of them didn't have a stroke'
Despite the book's Britishness, most of the humour is accessible to anyone who know us Brits well enough, though some of the references to our TV programmes and culinary delights may go over their heads.
The writing partnership between Heide Goody and Iain Grant is a fairly new one, I think, but it's definitely working for me. This book may be treading in the footsteps of such writers as Robert Rankin and Jasper Ffyfe but that isn't to say it doesn't possess its own unique flavour. Think those two writers with a dash of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer and you're getting close.
This won't appeal to everyone, especially not to nerdy war-gamers who may fail to see the irony of their portrayal here, or to anyone without a sense of humour living in the vicinity of Sutton Coldfield and it goes without saying that this isn't suitable for anyone with Christian fundamentalist leanings but for anyone who is suffering from a surfeit of all the current festivities, I can highly recommend this as the perfect antidote.
This book is currently free to download for your Kindle but I'd actually pay money to read this book.