Tag Archives: Ecco

Up Jumps the Sequel

In Michael Poore’s quirky and brilliant debut, Up Jumps the Devil, we are treated to a stunning, near biographical study of the fallen angel.

We find that John Scratch (aka Devil) is made of wood, looks like a rocker or a TV bounty hunter, smokes mice and other critters in a pipe, whips up a mean gumbo, is the unbridled object of bovine affections, and isn’t an entirely bad guy. He does not abuse his magical capabilities and trick you out of that soul of yours.

He decides Earth, more so America, is ripe for grooming into the best place to be—his Heaven. He sets out to escort it into its own, all the while scheming of a way to lure his long lost love, a fellow fallen angel named Arden, back to his side.

We read about Scratch’s exploits throughout history. Events he has touched or somewhat orchestrated, from Woodstock and the rise of Tele-Evangelism to the science of cryogenics. From early escapades with God and creation all the way up to a bargain struck with Elvis’ father. He was at the battle of Gettysburg and helped invent the Internet. He tends to dole out a fine meter of morality and self-discovery while handing you the payment for that soul.

This wonderful novel is loaded to the gills with cool pop cultural flourish and witty characters: A blues musician who has death trapped in his guitar, a man named Benjamin Franklin who seems to be onto something with his wild experiments, George Washington, Pocahontas (whom the Devil seems wary to speak of), and loads more show their faces in this ingenious book.

I could go into more detail on the wild adventures that fill this tome, but I won’t—you need to read it. Read how well written and goddamn funny it is. See the richly painted characters and oddly goofy scenarios that play out within its pages. This truly enjoyable debut is available from Ecco, which is an imprint of HarperCollins.

I have read and reviewed the work of Mark Allan Gunnells before. I count myself a fan. He has a knack for nailing realistic characters and conversation. Sequel is his love letter to 80s slasher films, and his love is bold.

Sequel begins with the original cast members of the slasher film Class of ’93, all being hired to reprise their roles for a sequel. After nearly a decade of varying degrees of sordid misadventure, none seem truly ecstatic to rekindle this fire, but they all climb aboard anyway.

From there it chugs ahead with a familiar head of steam as it follows the schematics for nearly every slasher flick ever released. Cryptic threats and gruesome murderous mayhem. Distrust and dishonesty abound. There are no real earthshaking surprises, nothing completely unexpected, just buckets of blood and campy whodunit shenanigans. What elevates this above the cheese platter it could have been is the author’s sense of fun and his always delightful characters. This is written with tongue firmly in cheek. It is a brisk and enjoyable read. One that made this fan of 80s horror pretty damn happy.

Sequel is available through Gallows Press.

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