Categorized | Fiction

Hell Week Fiction Review

Posted on September 29, 2008 by alanajoli

Hell Week by Rosemary Clement-Moore

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You might remember when I last wrote about one of Rosemary Clement-Moore’s books, I pronounced it the scariest book I’d reviewed for Flames Rising. Since I’m also a fan of “fluffy bunnies” level horror (as I also expressed in that review), I was not disappointed when the sequel, Hell Week, was not as nightmarish. In the sequel, girl-psychic Maggie Quinn does face a whole new level of evil: Rush and sororities. As a college freshman and budding journalist, her plan is to infiltrate her campus’s Greek societies and write scathing exposés. Balance this with an undefined relationship with the cute upperclassman who, in Prom Dates from Hell, helped her defeat a demon; her grandmother’s urging to continue her psychic training; her best friend continuing to study witchcraft against Maggie’s long-distance advice; and freshman year would be tough enough. But evil doesn’t take a break, and there’s something scarily lucky about the Sigma Alpha Xis, who choose Maggie to join their number. When Maggie’s usually helpful dreams disappear and she finds herself on the receiving end of that same good luck–and enhanced sexual attraction–that is the mark of the Sigma Alpha Xis, she suspects something dark at work. On the bright side, evil is always good for investigative journalism, if it doesn’t kill her first.

Unlike Prom Dates from Hell, which featured a physical demon that watched Maggie like a stalker, Hell Week’s big evil is largely off stage–it’s a dominant presence in the novel, but the focus is really on the people working the bad mojo, rather than the big bad itself. Comparing the two is like comparing The Nothing and G’mork the Werewolf in The Neverending Story. Despite the fact that The Nothing is the driving evil, it’s G’mork that gives kids nightmares. It doesn’t make the big evil in Hell Week less evil–just less urgent. It’s a slumbering thing that Maggie can stop if she manages to take down the people who have contracted with its power (and she won’t have to face her worst fears to do it). All of this makes Hell Week a good sequel: the important factors are Maggie’s relationships: with her family, with Justin, and with Lisa the would-be-witch and best-friend. In a book about what it means to be a part of a sorority–to belong–Clement-Moore juxtaposes that sense of needing to belong with the relationships most important to Maggie, the places where she does belong.

Though the plot and evil are different, the things that I loved about Prom Dates from Hell all return in Hell Week. Maggie is just as snarky as ever, and there are plenty of pop-culture references that have the Whedonesque appeal of shows like Buffy. But there are also physics topics: fractals, divine proportions, and other mathematical expressions that lean toward meta-physics. Add to Hell Week the angle of conspiracy theory, the dangers of muse-like inspiration, and the dangers of Rush, and it’s a complete package of fun. I’m excited to see what mess Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil winds up in next.

Review by Alana Joli Abbott

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