ARC Review – Middle Grade

Grounded for all Eternity by Darcy Marks

Publication Date: July 26, 2022

Summary from NetGalley:

A group of kids from hell come to Earth on one of the craziest nights of the year—Halloween—in this snarky, witty middle grade adventure about teamwork, friendship, shattering expectations, and understanding the world (or otherworld) around us.

Mal and his friends are just your regular average kids from hell. The suburbs that is, not the fiery pit part. But when Hell’s Bells ring out—signaling that a soul has escaped from one of the eternal circles, Mal and his friends can’t help but take the opportunity for a little adventure.

Before they know it, they’ve somehow slipped through the veil and found themselves in the middle of Salem, Massachusetts, on Halloween night. And what’s even worse, they’ve managed to bring the escaped soul with them! As the essence of one of history’s greatest manipulators gains power by shifting the balance on Earth, Mal and his squad-mates—along with some new friends that they meet along the way—work desperately to trap the escapee, save the people of Earth from the forces of evil, and find the portal back to their own dimension.

If they can’t manage it before their parents realize they’re gone, they’ll be grounded for an eternity. And an eternity in hell is a very, very long time.

ARC provided by Simon and Schuster via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

When I saw that cover and title come across my dashboard feed on NetGalley, I just knew that I had to see what it was about. Once I read the summary I knew that I had to read it, and although there were a few flaws, for a debut it was brilliantly written with great characters and a really nice take on the good vs. evil trope.

The story is told solely through Malachi’s point of view which was great. He is really great character who has a lot on his plate and it was fun watching him grow and learn throughout the book. Mal is destined to be the leader of his squad, a role he is not sure he wants, but has no other choice. This leads him to make some iffy choices, but ultimately he does come to understand that being the leader might not be so bad, especially if he does it on his terms.

The other characters were also well developed and a lot of fun to hang out with. Mal has a great relationship with his friends, Crowley and Lilith, and they work together well, even when things get a bit tense between them. The two witches they meet on earth, Sean and Charity, are also well fleshed out and add a nice dynamic to the group. There is also an angel, Cassandra, who wants to take Mal and his friends to heaven instead of allowing them to go back to hell. I liked her alot and enjoyed seeing her character change.

The stars of this book though are definitely the plot and the setting. The book starts off in hell and the description of the suburbs is wonderful and kind of amusing. The kids all live with their parents who all have different jobs in the running of hell. On earth they are in Salem, MA on halloween night and I loved how mystified Mal and the gang were about the things the humans were up to. There was some nice social commentary as well. The whole capturing of the soul and who the soul was added some nice historical perspective to the story with some information about the witch trials. There were some nice surprises about who Mal and his friends really were and what their roles in hell were all about, but a bit more information about that would have been nice. The plot was fast moving with a lot of snarky comments and interesting insights to keep kids interested.

While there is no indication that this will be a series, I certainly hope it will be. The ending certainly left things open enough for another book, hopefully from the point of view of one of the other characters. Get the word out to all of the middle grade kids you know to pick up this book this summer. I know they will enjoy it!

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