Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck
by Dale E. Basye
In the first book of this series, we learned that Heck is "where the bad kids go." So when teen felon Marlo Fauster lands there after being buried in a marshmallow lava flow, it's hard to be surprised. The surprise is that her nerdy but virtuous brother Milton comes along for the ride, darned for eternity. Now the plot has moved on. Milton has found his way back to the land of the living, but he isn't adjusting well to being Resurrection Boy. People think he's a freak and either fear or ridicule him, sometimes both at once. He keeps having spiritual brown-outs, a side effect of crossing over and back again. He inadvertently sends the school bully to his eternal reward, and now a strange girl from a kooky religious cult is after him.
Meanwhile, back in the junior underworld, Marlo has matriculated into the Second Circle of Heck, where kids study such subjects as necroeconomics while being tormented by desire for material possessions. It's a very commercialized sector of the afterlife, with tantalizing commercial breaks promoting the fashion boutiques and outlet stores of Mallvana. Egged on by Rapacia's Vice Principal of Darkness—a giant tin Easter bunny named the Grabbit, whose hollow voice speaks in diabolically cute limericks—Marlo begins to plan the heist of all eternity: a diamond-snatching caper that could wreck the economy of the afterlife... and that's the best-case scenario.
By the end, the two siblings are together again, fighting spork-wielding demons, a cross-dressing bully, crowds of shoppers, and the type of bureaucrats who can really take the fun out of being dead. And all that's besides a parade of fiendish puns, a rogue's gallery of hilariously maladjusted characters, and an ingenious plot to destroy everything, poof! But if you're wondering whether the Fauster siblings make it out of the underworld, you'll have to get the next book in the series. Rumor has it there will eventually be nine of them, corresponding to the nine circles of aitch-ee-double-toothpicks popularized by Dante in The Divine Comedy. At this writing there are only five Circles of Heck, the titles following this installment being Blimpo, Fibble, and Snivel.
St. Louis, USA
Recommended Age: 10+
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