By Claudia Lux
Most of Hell is fresh out of humanity, but Peyote proves that he still has a little sweetness remaining under all his spice. Bring a taste of Heaven to your hellish gathering with Sign Here‘s recipe match, Sweet and Spicy Jalapeño Poppers. Click here to get the recipe from Taste of Home.
Many of us have read Dante’s Inferno, with it’s flaming tombs, blood-thirsty harpies, and frozen sinners. But, what would Hell look like if we gave Dante Alighieri’s allegory an update? Claudia Lux has a new vision of Hell, and it looks a whole lot like your workplace. The book Sign Here tells the story of Peyote Trip, who works on the 5th Level– the Deals Department. The real punishments in Hell take place on the lower levels. For example, the first floor, or “Downstairs” as it is called, is home to the torture chamber. As residents move up, they become the torturers and those responsible for planning torture methods. By the time you get to Peyote’s workplace, Hell is much less bleak. Instead of physical pain, you’re sentenced to a life of congealed noodles for dinner, an oppressive atmosphere in which to breath, and an eternity of drinking Hell’s signature drink– Jägermeister. And now, Peyote has to train the 5th Floor’s latest recruit, Calamity Ganon, a squeaky, shy soul who is MUCH smarter than she first appears.
Peyote’s gig involves convincing people to sign their eternal souls over to damnation, and he has his eyes set on the Harrison family. Peyote has signed four generations of Harrisons, and he’s trying to get a fifth so that he can achieve a “complete set.” However, the Harrisons aren’t just any family, and Peyote’s reward for achieving a complete set through them isn’t just any reward.
The Harrisons are a wealthy family about to embark on their annual trip to their summer vacation home in New Hampshire. Silas, the father, is the heir to the estate and the leader of the family. He met and married his wife, Lily, when they were teenagers. Silas was the star athlete who seemed to have it all, and Lily was the beautiful “It” girl by his side. Now, Lily is hiding an affair and has very little interest in Silas. Sean, their son, is a dark, moody teenager who would rather lock himself in his room playing video games than acknowledge any other member of his family. His sister, Mickey, is a high school freshman who is sweet and bubbly. However, she struggles with feelings of awkwardness and ineptitude. She meets a new friend, Ruth, after soccer practice one day, and she’s immediately mesmerized by her confidence. The two become best friends, and Ruth joins the Harrisons for their trip to New Hampshire.
“But then there was Ruth. None of us were prepared for Ruth.”– Peyote Trip
After listening to an interview with the author, I was expecting Sign Here to be a funny, quirky story about Hell. What I wasn’t expecting was for it to make such a strong showing in the thriller category. While I outlined the two main story lines above, there are really four throughout the book. The remaining two will leave you trying to untangle a web of deceit.
I have two minor criticisms of this book. First, it wasn’t hard to predict what was going to happen once you got a good feel for the story. Second, people who are religious may view this book differently from others. As a Christian and the daughter of a minister, I read books like this as pure fiction, not expecting it to be Biblically accurate at all. Peyote’s Hell is trivialized to the point where it feels more like an annoyance than a punishment. If this bothers you, it might not be the right book for you. However, I assumed that this book would contain some potshots at Christianity, namely at Heaven. I was pleased to see that it didn’t. Heaven wasn’t mentioned (or Satan, for that matter), although there were a couple of lines that inferred their existence. It was nice to feel like my religion wasn’t getting mocked (for once). Hell was the setting, but religion was absent from the book.
My Rating System Explained 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: This was an amazing book, and I can't stop thinking about it. It impacted me emotionally or changed my perspective. My thoughts keep flickering back to it at random times throughout the day. I will absolutely recommend it to my friends or to one of my book clubs. 4 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: This was a really good book. Parts of it stuck with me, and I might mention it in a conversation. There is a high likelihood that I will recommend it to my friends or to one of my book clubs. 3 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️: I liked this book. It allowed me to escape from reality for a while. While I might tell somebody about it if I think it will interest them, I will probably not suggest it to one of my book clubs. 2 Stars ⭐️⭐️: There's something about this book that I didn't like. I wasn't willing to go all the way down to a one-star rating, but I'm definitely not digging it. I may recognize that this book is not for me, but it might be for other people. I will not recommend it to my friends or one of my book clubs. 1 Star ⭐️: My rarest rating. I really didn't like this book. Something in the story line upset me, and I probably "hate-read" the majority of the book. Not only will I not recommend it, but I will actively tell people that I did not like it.