First off, a little personal back story on this one.
I’ve pretty much overbooked myself with book reviews for this month (I know what my reading list is all the way into December at this point) and I knew reviewing Special Levels of Earthly Hell was going to be a challenge for me because I basically had a single day to read it.
Which, I honestly could have planned for better, because I spent the entire weekend sketching up count-down to Halloween art. Oops.
It also didn’t help that I don’t skim books, especially when I’m reviewing them. I read every page, every word from cover to cover. How else could you possibly give a well informed and honest review?
So, I stayed up until 3am or so reading this book followed by fevered dreams about the violence of the world afterwards. (hence the later-than normal hour for posting).
On to the Review!
Special Levels of Earthly Hell by Merry Freer is the topic for the day. And I’ll try to be succinct with the review of it, but I can tell you it will be a challenge,(because I’m underslept and) because this book brings up so many deep questions.
- Can demons exist outside of a cultural context?
- How much can the human mind take before it breaks?
- How much stress can a marriage take before it or the people in it break?
- How do immigrants deal with losing their cultural identities when they move to America?
- What is a family’s capacity for trauma?
Special Levels of Earthly Hell
Written by Merry Freer
Genre: Paranormal, Occult, Horror, True crime
Two sentence plot synopsis
(because I tend to give too many details away…)
Drew Collins has to fight off an evil energy that has begun to posses his wife before it destroys their family. But how do you fight a demon without a religious context?
The book opens with us meeting Drew Collins, husband of the possessed Adriana and self-professed atheist struggling to deal with a demonic energy he calls “The Beast.”
“The Beast” is spreading it’s evil influence though Adriana’s entire family, tearing them apart one mind at a time then culminating in bloodshed and murder. We get to see step-by-step how it unravels everything it touches.
This book is the tragic story of a family battling a non-corporeal evil in a very realistic way.
It was the premise that captured my attention and convinced me that I needed to review this book, because I do not approach the world with a religious mind (although I was raised Roman Catholic). But I do believe there are evil things in the world science has yet to explain. And this book delved into those exact thoughts.
It was the depth and breadth of this book that entirely surprised me.
It all starts in Mexico where we first meet Adriana and her family. Adriana is a beautiful, smart girl working her way up in the government when she’s swayed into contact with evil forces out of childish curiosity. It’s after that moment she meets Drew, an American visiting her town, that her plans for power slip into dreams of family and love.
We see their whole relationship and the struggles Adriana and her sisters face when emigrating to the US.
Wrapped inside of this tale of cultural blending and isolation is this pulsing, hideous evil energy that is wrapping its clever net ever tighter around the family.
What I didn’t realize until after I read it is that this book is based on events the author personally experienced!
The plot and pacing of this book meandered through the life span of Drew and Adriana. Touching here and there, showing the slow build of tension and danger as the story progressed.
It was a slow burn kind of book.
For me, it was a little too real. But, that’s because it is a real story.
I got to know the characters as human beings and because of the incredibly tangible and realistic way this book is written, it broke my heart several times over. And what happens in their lives is tragic.
I would tell you to read this book like you would an epic Greek tragedy. Be cerebral with your approach to this book, because to feel it’s depths is going to hurt. A lot. But the many layers of humanity expressed in this makes it a truly powerful read.
Or, on another side of things, if you crave to read of people’s personal paranormal experiences- this book is going to blow your mind.
It left me with a lot to think about, and it is an incredibly well written book. So it is a 5 out of 5 blood spattered star book.
(And dammit! That ending had me bawling my eyes out!)
If you’re interested in reading the book you can find it on Amazon
About the Author
While “Doctor, Doctor” is her debut novel, she has been a writer and editor for many years, including work with the San Diego Chargers and the San Diego Hall of Champions.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from San Diego State University and has been a featured speaker for classes dealing with medical ethics.
Her controversial memoir, “Doctor, Doctor,” topped the Best Seller List in True Crime/White Collar Crime for 10 months and received a “Best Books of 2014” award from “Suspense Magazine.”