Reviewed by: Ryan Bracha
Genre: Comedy Fiction
Approximate word count: 70,000 – 75,000
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Grady Hendrix’s fiction has appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, Strange Horizons, Pseudopod and the anthology The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination. His nonfiction has appeared in Variety, Slate, Playboy, Time Out New York, the New York Sun and the Village Voice. You can follow every little move he makes at his website.
"Satan hates his job. Managing Hell is the worst job ever invented and after several millennia of listening to the constant whining of damned souls, Satan is completely and totally burnt out. But there are no holidays in Hell, and now, in the face of a power grab by the officious and smarmy Heavenly Host, Satan's got to reach deep and find a way to save his home from corporate takeover. Featuring hat-wearing Chihuahuas, hyper-violent nuns with poor impulse control, and metaphysical wrestling matches, Satan Loves You is the book for everyone who hates boring books. Do you love romance? Do you adore fantasy epics about anorexic elves who sing? Is your idea of a perfect evening curling up with a cozy mystery and a nice cup of tea? Then go away! Satan Loves You is a high-octane injection of literary adrenaline that annihilates romance, kills elves, and makes hot tea explode into a massive fireball that will melt your face!"
Jerry Springer: The Opera, The Book of Mormon, The Life of Brian. All controversial works of comedy which focus upon religion, Heaven vs. Hell, and the like, which take themselves far from seriously but have courted controversy over their subject matter from those which do take those kinds of things seriously. Satan Loves You is a book which falls firmly and unashamedly in the same arena as the aforementioned works, and when read by the wrong eyes, may provoke a similar reaction from an audience.
This is the story of Satan, the overworked and under-appreciated lord of the depths of a Hell which hasn't had a fresh idea for new torture for years. The fires are not much more than weak wisps of heat, the lakes of sulphur are reduced to puddles, and the demons are having words with the union about their working conditions. Heaven is enjoying record profits from those that pass through the pearly gates, but as more and more of the world become Godless sinners, Hell is struggling to keep up. To complicate matters further Satan has inadvertently impregnated a nun, attracted a class action lawsuit on the basis that a woman named Frita Babbit allegedly suffered abuse at the hands of Satanic followers, and to top it all off, The Heavenly Host is making a move for a corporate takeover of Hell, by fair means or otherwise.
I have to say, this is a very funny book. Grady Hendrix effortlessly weaves a surrealist yarn that floats atop a sea of undertones. The Heaven vs. Hell theme reeks of a corporate world satire, the courtroom drama is a fantastic commentary on live-on-TV court cases, with a 'Well, he's the Devil, he must be bad," attitude that voids any valid points that Satan, or his lawyer, the Emperor Nero, can make. His descriptive prose is spot on, and the jokes well placed and consistent. Hendrix also displays a marvellous Devil may care attitude (pun entirely intended) with his subject matter, and has absolutely no remorse whatsoever with who he might offend in the process. For this, he deserves, and gets, the utmost of respect from me.
Of course it will not be for everybody, and is bound to divide the opinions of those that pick it up. My advice is to almost forget the religious undertones, and get carried away in the absurd world that Hendrix creates, the humour falls into the bracket of 'childish' at times but to be honest, I'm a massive fan of childish humour when it's executed in the right way, and in Satan Loves You, Grady Hendrix gets it just right. Just a snippet to give you an idea of both the vibe that the book has, and the kind of thing that had me snorting milk through my nose in laughter.
"Your hooves are getting poo all over the carpet."
Surreal. Laugh out loud funny. Controversial. Thought provoking. A must read.
Some of the subject matter may cause offence.
Rating: ***** Five Stars