A Dark and Hellish Story

Sign Here by Claudia Lux

Publication Date: October 25, 2022

Summary from NetGalley:

A darkly humorous, surprisingly poignant, and utterly gripping debut novel about a guy who works in Hell (literally) and is on the cusp of a big promotion if only he can get one more member of the wealthy Harrison family to sell their soul.

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.

ARC provided by Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

I really enjoyed this one. It is hard to believe that this is a debut. The writing is spectacular and the story is so engrossing and well done that you will have a hard time putting it down.

The characters are so well written. They are not only morally gray, but I found myself both loving and hating them all at some point in the story. There are a lot of characters and many of them tell the story from their points of view, but you never find yourself confusing any of them. They are all well developed with their own stories and are many layered.

Peyote Trip is the main character from hell, and he is the one that we see what is really going on there through. You could almost consider Peyote a good guy, even when he is getting people to sign contracts especially when he knows they don’t really know what they are signing. Always read the fine print people. I really enjoyed his part in this story and how he figured out what was really going on with Calamity. Calamity was also a great character and I loved her backstory.

The Harrisons’ story is told through multiple characters. Because we get a lot of different points of view as to what is going on with the family, you can see just how dysfunctional they really are. There are many scenes involving this family that are quite heartbreaking. The daughter Mickey story arc was quite heartbreaking. I don’t think we get any part of the story through Ruth’s perspective, but her addition to the family vacation certainly stirs things up.

The plot is so very well done, except for maybe the ending. The descriptions of hell are exactly what I would expect if there really was one. You have music you don’t like constantly playing, the pens never work, there are horrible smells and you can only drink Jagermeister if you want to get drunk. The corporate structure was also spot on, as well as the horrible boss. The chapters are short, but the action just keeps you moving along. There are lots of thrills, some twists and a little bit of a mystery. There is a very dark humor that runs throughout the book, but this one will also get under your skin.

The dual timelines eventually do meet up, but not until the very end. The ending was the only weak spot in this wonderful book. It felt a bit rushed and I still had some questions left about what really happened.

This is an excellent book which you really should be considering adding to your TBR. I look forward to seeing what this author comes up with next.

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