Grounded for All Eternity

Malachi wants everyone to understand he's not a demon. Neither are his friends. Yes, they live in Hell and their parents work in Hell. But they're not demons. They're simply regular kids enjoying one last school break together before job training begins in this acerbic and spooky middle-grade adventure by Darcy Marks.

Mal and his friends are powers, beings destined to guard the imprisoned souls held in the circles of Hell. When Samuel Parris, one such soul, escapes the Pit, the kids' parents join Hell's forces to find him. Meanwhile, Mal, Lilith, Crowley and Aleister give their babysitters the slip so they can explore suddenly-adult-free areas of Hell. Unfortunately, they accidentally fall through a doorway between worlds and end up on Earth, a place Mal's babysitter, Methuselah, describes as "terrible... Mostly uninhabited and smelling of goat... no plumbing... wrath of God everywhere... chickens...." They're stuck--specifically in Salem, Mass., on Halloween--and they've unwittingly brought Parris with them. If the four don't catch the escaped soul and bring it back to Hell, their parents are going to be so mad....

Marks's thrilling debut includes edgy, subversive themes and perspectives that blend seamlessly with history and classic tropes. The immortal kids fit the Brat Pack mold but with black wings and destined positions as guardians of Hell. Setting a story in Salem on Halloween risks coming across as trite, but Marks pulls it off in a bold and inventive way that effectively and brilliantly uses the Salem witch trials. The atmospheric and haunting Grounded for All Eternity is a thrill that lasts long past Halloween. --Kyla Paterno, freelance reviewer

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