Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner here in the internet. Today I’m bringing you my review of Raising Hell by Bryony Pearce. There’s a lot of books out there with this title, it turns out, so I’m making sure to clarify which one I’m reviewing! This one is a young adult paranormal thriller, and it was such a fun read.
Meet Ivy Elizabeth Mann:
“I know what you’re thinking, but I’m not half faery, or demon, or angel or anything like that. Mum’s a Body Shop consultant living in a bungalow in Birmingham and Dad enters crossword competitions.”
Once upon a time, Ivy and her friends did a very stupid thing and now there’s a rift letting dark matter into the world. Dark matter that manifests as black magic which actually works. Now every teenager with access to the Internet is raising hell. Literally.
Ivy’s doing her best to stem the tide, but her new job working school security barely pays the bills and there’s only so much one girl with a machete (and a cat possessed by her own dead grandmother) can do against the forces of evil.
Now she’s facing a teenaged goth with an attitude, a dark cabal with a terrifying agenda and a potential zombie apocalypse.
Ivy losing her job might be the best thing to happen to the world!
I heard such good things about this book, and was really excited to read it. I decided to treat myself to a weekend of getting lost in it, and I’m really glad I did.
Although the writing – especially the conversation – felt a bit forced at times, Raising Hell had a cleverly constructed magic system, a unique plot line, and a brilliant morally grey protagonist. It’s certainly not one for the sqeamish as it was as blood soaked as any horror film by the end of the book, but had a balance of humour and love within it to stop it from being overwhelming. Gran the possessed cat in particular was hilarious, and reminded me somewhat of Salem from the 90s/00s version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
Ivy is doing what she can to atone for what she feels is her fault, despite everything being a great big mistake. They couldn’t have known it would work, and she battles with the weight of this throughout the pages, swinging between feeling sure she’s to blame, and being equally sure she isn’t. Watching her work out where she stands on this issue within herself was both interesting and important, and says a lot about how we see ourselves, and hold ourself to different standards than others.
Overall it was a relatively quick, action packed book that made multiple pop-culture refernces that made me snort with laughter as well as tugging at my heart strings, along with an ending that left me somewhat stunned. This only came out recently so it can’t be said whether there will be a follow up or not yet, but it has the capabilities to work both as a standalone and as the first in a series, so I’ll be interested to keep an ear to the ground for future books!
If you enjoyed this book and are looking for something with a similar feel, I highly recommend Mina and the Undead, and It’s Behind You, both of which also came out this year, and will keep you just as on the edge of your seat. Have spooky dreams!