Book Review: Hell’s Super by Mark Cain (it’s a cheap one, too!)

Click here to get your cheap ebook from Amazon!
Click here to get your cheap ebook from Amazon!

Update:  I’m really dumb…the book’s not free…but cheap!  Updating the article as we speak, but if I miss anything, substitute the word free for $.99!

Note:  I’m aware that many of my more conservative readers would feel uncomfortable reading a comedic novel set in Hell.  I just want all of you to know that it would be an unfortunate decision to overlook that book for that purpose, as the heart of this book contains a story about the true human condition, the one underlying emotion within all of us that  drives us forward, no matter our faith or personal history.

Mark Cain and his novel, Hell’s Super, was first brought to my attention almost a year and a half ago.  A friend who thought his writing was very similar to my own (which I take as something of a compliment for myself) told me that I needed to check out this book.

Of course, that was well before Hell’s Super was even officially completed.

So, based on the recommendation, I did give the book a read, and read through the first 10 chapters in a couple of sessions, which was almost unheard of for me at the time as I was well behind on sleep as well as working on doing some severe edits on The Legend of Buddy Hero, while also doing everything else that a normal adult 30-something/married with kids male has to do around the holiday season.  Even back then, when the book was in its much rougher form, I was entranced by this world that Mr. Cain had created in his version of Hell.

And then I stopped reading.  I’m not entirely certain why or how it happened, but I somehow got distracted and the book fell by the wayside.  By the time I had finally returned to complete the read, the book was no longer available for me to finish.  Mark had taken it down from the site I had been reading it on in order to explore his options for publishing the thing appropriately.

Fast forward a year and I finally received a notice from Mark that his book had finally become available through his publisher Taylor Street Publishing.  And what was even better (at least for me because my book-buying funds are low at the moment)?  It’s cheap!

Those of you who follow my reading are aware that I frequently discuss how giant my “to-read” pile is on my nightstand (and in my Kindle).  I’m pretty particular, usually, about trying to do things in a rather FIFO (first in, first out) order, it’s just one of those compulsions of mine.  I focus on this just to set clear how big of a deal it was that I put this book on the top of my list right after purchasing.  There were a couple of books that I had requirements to read first, but then, Hell’s Super.  Yeah, I was that excited to finally finish the tale.

And what did I find?  Mark had managed to make the book even better than the first time I had begun reading it.  The first 10 chapters of the book, although still the same basic chapters I had initially read, felt fresh and exciting still, mostly, I believe, due to a well-performed polishing/editing process, as well as toning down some of the more unnecessary elements (see: Importance of good editing).

But all of this is really rambling before getting to the meat of the book, right?  This is what one does in a book report in high school where you just want to waste as many words as possible to get up to the word count required and see if you get away without talking about the book itself…

But that’s stupid, because I actually read this book, as opposed to my high school assignment of The Great Gatsby.  What makes it even more stupid is that I loved it!

Through the usage of a rather combined mythology of Hell, Mark Cain creates an incredibly unique vision of the underworld, one in which Hell is still completely torturous, but, well, a lot like life on Earth. One might even say that Cain’s Hell is a version of Earth in which Murphy’s Law is an actual law of nature.  And in a world where everything that can breaks does, Steve, our protagonist, is the one to fix it.  Right there you have a beautiful premise.  Add into that the fact that he is almost completely inept at fixing things himself and you see how quickly things can get interesting.  I saw almost completely inept because although Steve himself comments a few times at the beginning of the book about his DIY-failures, he does some rather impressive handyman work throughout the course of the novel.

But in the end, this story is about the human spirit, about how Steve, although in Hell, finds himself still responsible to do his duty.  Sure, I suppose Satan could inflict even more pain upon Steve if he didn’t do his job, but one theme we as readers see over and over again through the story is that Steve puts it upon himself to do his job and do it well.  And that’s where Cain’s brilliance really begins to shine.  Within this book of pies in faces and fat jokes, we find ourselves learning about what it really means to be human.  I won’t spoil it for you, but let’s just say that I found myself reflecting on my own motivations in life while reading the resolution of the book.

Yes, this book is star studded.  We find some of the greatest names in history hanging out in Hell, like Orson Welles, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Alan Pinkerton, and Florence Nightingale (to name only a few).  We see how their actions in life affected their punishments in hell, which is often used to a rather humorous effect.  Of course, the cameos don’t end there.  We also find ourselves meeting a great many of the biggest names in demon-dom as well.

All of this wrapped up in a book that is completely clever and will make  you laugh out loud (not LOL, mind you) at least once.  And…it’s really darn cheap!  Whether or not you even intend to read it, you should go out and pick it up simply to send Mark the message that he should keep writing, because the rest of us who have read it need him to finish the sequel so we can see how Steve deals with Hell actually freezing over.

Here’s the Amazon link where it takes but one click to own your very own electronic copy:

And if you do check it out, definitely come back here and tell me what you think.  I’m always interested to see what folks think of the indie books that I love.

Have fun out there!


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