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Book Review

Book Cover

Welcome to Purgatory


Author: Val Cornish
Melrose Books
RRP: £9.99
ISBN: 978 1 905226 95 5
Out now

Things are not all they could be between heaven and hell; Lucifer’s a reluctant antihero who hangs out in the bar he owns, Purgatory. Heaven isn’t in much better state what with his mother running the place since his father walked out over the death of Jesus. Like most families these people have issues...

Welcome to Purgatory is a new novella by Val Cornish, published by Melrose Press. Without an evident presence online and no PR blurb to work from, I presume that this is his first published work. Unfortunately it shows. I am also presuming that Val is a he, given that his portrayal of Lucifer borders on the misogynistic with the emotional subtly of a sixteen year old boy - I cannot see a woman writing the character as quite that shallow - when it comes to relationships.

This could have been quite a good novella. What really spoils it are the first few pages where the writer is trying way too hard to both be cool and to insert as many words associated with hell as possible.

In case you’re a brain dead reader, or just not attentive, Cornish has chosen to help you along by providing any salient words as CAPITALS and sometimes as BOLD CAPITALS, just so you don’t miss any of the clever word play. There is also a preponderance of italic prose when the author has characters talk directly to the reader or the author is allowing the reader into his characters thoughts.

Stylistically the narrative spends most of its time in the first person with the reader seeing events through the eyes of Lucifer. Unfortunately the impression you’re left with is of a writer who is not confident enough in his prose to just leave the bloody thing alone and allow the story to unfold without innumerable literary and stylistic gimmicks, or faith enough in his audience to think that they might just know where to place the emphasis in a sentence.

Which is a shame as, overall, the small number of short stories that make up the book are not half bad. True, I don’t think that it is either as controversial as he would wish, nor as original - the humanisation of godlike beings would have been normal for the ancient Greeks and more recently Kevin Smith did pretty much the same thing with Dogma (1999), but with more humour. As a first novella it’s a good start, but it would have been better if the unnecessary gimmicks had been dropped and more time spent rounding out the characters.


Charles Packer

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