John Grey is dead.
At least, that’s how Jay Bell’s adventurous ebook Hell’s Pawn begins. After a drunken night of self-pity, John drives his car headfirst into a tree. When he comes to, he learns that while he wasn’t a bad person, he wasn’t exactly a saint either. Just a few thousand points short of entering Heaven, John ends up in Purgatory where he has to prove his goodness and must complete tasks to earn “redemption points” before he can enter the Pearly Gates.
But Purgatory is boring – food is tasteless, the sky is always the same shade of dull grey, no plants in sight and zero animals roaming the land.
Frustrated with his afterlife, the 28-year-old finds a couple of friends and breaks into the underbelly of Purgatory. When John discovers not everything is as it seems, he’s whisked on a whirlwind of an adventure through Hell, Heaven, Mount Olympus, Asgard and a couple of other afterlife destinations readers will easily recognize. And of course, all of creation is in danger should he fail.
What makes Hell’s Pawn stand out is John’s adventures through the different afterlife worlds. It’s refreshing to visit so many realms and Bell clearly did his research on past religions and past gods; his writing respects each and every one of them without sounding preachy or mocking faith – instead it explores how similar these faiths were and how religion should not divide people but bring them together.
While the story has a small romantic sub-plot (which only adds a little of flavor to the story), the action is enjoyable, the dangers are real (John faces a soul eating vampire!), the jokes land perfectly and the main character’s determination to not let the various gods push him around makes the reader cheer on his successes and lament his failures. Bell’s characterization is near perfect, by the end of the novel John feels like an old friend. Readers want him to be happy and will turn the last page with a smile on their faces.
Hell’s Pawn is an instant classic, a tale anyone can read over and over and not be bored.
Read an excerpt and buy the book here.