When Marlow Green stumbles into a hellish fight with nightmarish creatures and helps save a girl’s life, he is unwittingly dragged into a centuries-old war and must choose between cowardice and courage.
From brushes with the law to expulsion from the last school that might take him, 15-year-old asthmatic Marlow is always running from trouble, but this ups the ante considerably. The girl, Pan, is a Hellraiser, a soldier in the battle between evil, and, well, a lesser evil. In exchange for wishes and her service, Pan signs a contract with the Devil’s Engine—an infernal, ancient machine thought to have been forged by Satan. And when her contract expires, she’ll be dragged down to hell. Even though Pan won’t admit it, Marlow has saved her and thereby become involved, and the two inevitably team up with the other Hellraisers to try to stop the Circulus Inferni, an ancient, evil group of monsters, from using the Devil’s Engine to unleash hell on Earth. Pan’s aggressive, testy, take-charge attitude earns her the enmity of many, including Marlow and her Hellraiser mentor, Herc, who fling such epithets as “bitch” and “cow” around liberally. However, Pan’s strong will and heroism win out in the eyes of readers and even her prickly companions.
With high-stakes situations, a fast-paced plot, and gruesome, terrifying creatures, this Faustian tale is a hit for horror fans looking for a world of mystery, the macabre, and lots of fire and fighting. (Horror. 13 & up)