Title: To Save a Shining Soul
Author: S.A. Garcia
Cover artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner press
Amazon: Buy Link To Save a Shining Soul
Length: Novella/122 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: A fun and funny look at what Hell is really like, which I loved, but the purists of any religion may want to stay away from this one.
Sentenced to Hell for killing his betraying lover and himself, Marius is content to be a slacker. Sure, he seduces the occasional traffic violation into committing mass murder, but mostly, he enjoys hanging in his sweet ’comb and schmoozing with the other demons. Anything is better than being thrust into the Bank of Souls and thrown back into the Human world of pain and humiliation.
So when Marius discovers his cushy assignment is hanging by a thread, he vows to do anything and everything vile and reprehensible to keep his station in Hell, even if it means seducing young divinity student Tristan Gordon to keep him from realizing that his place in Hell is completely accidental. But Tristan is both clever and beguiling, and no one is more surprised to discover Marius has gone from seducer to protector than Marius himself.
I liked this author’s writing since I read her first (I think?) novella Canes and Scales published by Dreamspinner Press few months ago and was absolutely delighted to review this one, especially since I enjoyed this one even more. Marius, as blurb tells us, is one of the demons in Hell and he would like to remain there, but there are indications that the Powers That Be (PTB), including his absolutely delightful three headed Boss, Duke Asmodeus, would like him to go to the Bank of Souls. See in this world, most people who serve some punishment in Hell, depending on their sins, are allowed to have as many chances of new lives as they want and the PTB gently (and not so gently) suggest that Marius should try it — new life that is. Marius does not want to, Marius really, really does not want to, and when he is given a new job to seduce an innocent who is in hell by mistake, he jumps on it — anything to be allowed to stay in Hell forever. Well, you know what they say about our best plans. 🙂
First and foremost, if you cannot stand the very untraditional handling of the religion — any religion, really — if it offends you, you should stay away from this book. Personally I loved it very much, and mostly because how much thought the author seemed to give the concept of what Hell is in her work. I love when author plays with religious mythology and I thought here it was done exceptionally well. Hell in this novella is a place where people are punished, sure, so in that sense it may be similar to traditional Christianity, however after their “sentence” is done, anybody can go ahead to their next life, which as we know definitely not what Christianity teaches. And of course Hell it is a place where you can watch the TV show Rome if you so desire and eat your favorite foods — if you are high enough on the hierarchy ladder that is. Truly, I wanted to visit, just for a little while. 😉
Marius is seemingly very much okay with his position in Hell and he is terrified about the possibility that the PTB may force him to jump in the Bank of Souls, to start new life on Earth. I loved how despite all his fears about trying to start this new life, Marius seems to want to keep whatever is left of his humanity and how easily it comes out when he and Tris are falling in love. I loved Marius’ voice when we were in his head (narration is third person limited POV from Marius and sometimes from Tristan), and in addition to the fact that he is extremely funny, sometimes his vulnerability came through as well.
Tris was a sympathetic young man, but what distinguished him to me from some other “confused, innocent, young” characters whom I meet so often while reading this genre was how intelligent he was and how his sharp wit was sometimes shown in the story.
I thought both characters were very appealing and likeable, but I also thought they — especially Tris — were significantly less complex than the setting was, although I also thought it worked for the story and for its length.
I suppose that while the love story — or more precisely the beginning of such — in this book gave me warm and fuzzy feelings, what I enjoyed the most was “Hell” and its inhabitants. In my opinion, they were very special and quite unique characters in this book. Related to this, I also found that author’s vision of the Supreme Deity in this book is exactly how I see the Power that rules the universe too, so while I will not be explaining what this concept is, I was just very tickled that our visions are so close. 🙂