Winifred Halsey, editor,
Heaven & Hell
(Speculation Press, 2002)

Heaven & Hell is a devilish delight.

The anthology of whimsical short stories, edited by Winifred Halsey, provides numerous fun insights into the minds and motivations of angels and demons, saints and sinners, and the common folk who interact with them.

For instance, in Jody Lynn Nye's "Fiber of Being," a newly dead man learns the art of angeling from two masters at the craft. In "Prom Night," by Shalanna Collins, a too-proud queen learns not to meddle with dark forces. Stuart Barrow approaches Heaven from a human resources perspective in "The Department of Prayers and Petitions." And Tom Dullemond both shows that Heaven and Hell may be interchangeable, depending on the views of the individual.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg delves into vampiric lore and Jewish devotions in "Vampire's Friend." A novice angel, whose lifetime of sin was wiped away by one selfless act, finds out what it means to be an angel in "A Plum Assignment" by Sharon L. Nelson. The afterlife may be adaptable, according to the protagonist in Susan Sizemore's "Ragnarok Can Wait." And a succubus uses a well-earned vacation from Hell to experience the Seven Virtues in an earthly resort.

H. David Blalock matches a lawyer against a demon in "The Morality Clause," while a kitten comes to terms with its own inner demon in Terri Beckett's "Demon Puss." In Michael J. McShay's "Prize of a Lifetime," a demon and angel compete for a teen-ager's soul. Michele Hauf closes the collection with "Perhaps," the longest story in the collection and, ironically, the weakest, in which a fairy-seeker ends up standing in for an angel.

The entire collection is delightful, without a sour note among the tales. If you've an interest in spiritual beings from above and below, spend some time in Heaven & Hell and see what these authors have to offer.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 25 May 2002

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