Would you risk an eternity in hell and losing your immortal soul to protect those you love?
Impoverished orphan Naledi struggles to raise her younger sisters in rural Lesotho, Africa. Her life already sucks but when she manifests the rare ability to open portals through time and space, her life gets a whole lot more complicated. Will learning to harness her powers piss off God and land her in hell?
Now a couple of archangels want Naledi to use her powers to spy on hell and stop a demon Armageddon. Spies who are caught on earth get tortured, so imagine how badly spies who are caught in actual hell get tortured.
If she fails, her sisters will die, demons will take over the world and she’ll get trapped in hell for eternity, so no pressure then…
Targeted Age Group:: 10-17
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I was inspired to write this book due to my desire, as a reader, to see stories which included more diverse protagonists from other parts of the world. I wanted the protagonist in my story to be a poor African as I don't feel there are enough stories representing those types of people, especially within fantasy. My grandmother was from Lesotho and I have spent time there hence I am knowledgeable about the culture.
This book deals with the issue of how vulnerable teenagers are to exploitation by adults in a unique way. In addition to focusing on the protagonist, Naledi, the readers is led into the world of parallel teenage protagonist, Giada and how she copes as a newly-damned soul in Hell. The book includes humour in addition to asking deeper questions such as 'is Hell forever?' and 'is it possible for damned souls to get redemption?' Major themes of the book include: mental illness, redemption, coming of age, abandonment, co-dependency.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My characters developed organically from within the story idea and then they came to life and started to insert their personality! I've based some of the characters on people I know from real life, others are completely fictional, others are archetypal.
Giada woke up and rubbed her eyes. For a few brief milliseconds, she forgot that she was in Hell. Then reality came crashing back and she groaned.
She had now spent sixty-five days in Hell, not that she was counting. Who was she kidding? Of course she was counting! She would probably continue to count for the rest of eternity. Was this her new normal? She shuddered at the thought. When she’d first arrived, she hadn’t believed it. In spite of her catholic upbringing, she’d always leant closer to the atheist side of agnosticism. She’d convinced herself that her present predicament was just a very realistic, recurring nightmare, but as the days wore on and she never woke up, she knew she had to accept the truth. She was damned— accursed, doomed, and convicted. She’d been judged and found guilty, and this was the sticking point: who had done the judging? She’d never attended a trial, never been given any kind of defence, let alone a hearing. What kind of kangaroo-court justice was this, to sentence a 15-year-old girl to an eternity in Hell without even giving her a fair trial?
Even if she was guilty—which she would categorically deny until the day she died….and, oh yeah, she was already dead —surely there must be some kind of leniency or lessening of sentence due to her age?
She’d tried to protest this the first day she had arrived, but it had resulted in a trip to one of the torture dungeons. It had been an agonising experience and had involved having her flesh stripped from her bones by giant, carnivorous lizards. And when all her flesh had gone, she’d been devas- tated to find it grew back, only to have the entire process repeated. This had gone on for three days until she had begged for mercy. But she’d quickly learnt that demons were fond of minions begging—not because they were merciful beings, but because they liked a good laugh at the expense of others. After that, Giada had learnt not to protest again.
Blinking back the veil of sleep, she looked around at the other minions who were gradually waking from their fitful sleep. When she’d been a human, Giada had never consid- ered whether souls in Hell might sleep. In fact, she’d never given Hell much consideration at all. Maybe if she had, she wouldn’t be here. Sleep was the only time a minion ever got rest as they were all enslaved to demons and wicked spirits. It wasn’t the same kind of sleep that humans received: nour- ishing, refreshing and pretty-much the solution to all life’s ills. No, this kind of sleep was infrequent, often due to the howling of other damned souls in pain, or filled with night- mares. However, she found that the nightmares were still less scary than the real horrors of being in Hell. Aaron had told her she’d become desensitised to it all eventually—he’d been here for more than a couple of centuries so he should know.
Giada had met Aaron during her first few days here, after her baptism of torture-by-lizard. She’d soon found out that he was one of the longest-serving minions in Hell, not because he’d been here longer than anyone else, but because he hadn’t resorted to sin-baiting. Aaron was what you might call a ‘conscientious objector’. He ran daily tours for newly-damned souls, so he’d shown her around the vast stinking cauldron that was Hell. Of course, they didn’t describe it like that. To hear the demons talk, you’d think this was some kind of holiday park, and all the minions were lucky to be here.
Giada dragged her tired, aching body off her stone bed, wishing she had a few extra minutes to lie in and collect her thoughts before the day began. Day? Is this a day?
Not that there was a distinction between day and night. The sun never rose or set in Hell. Leaving the dungeon she shared with twenty-two other minions, Gaida cast her eyes up towards the sky. It consisted of permanently billowing black clouds, scattered shards of red light, greenish smoke, and the occasional clap of thunder followed by lightning. This was the same exact weather pattern. Every. Single. Day.
Giada felt an urgency to hurry to her mistress’ home before she woke up—the Countess was not a demon to cross – she was powerful and dangerous. Not so much because she had a temper, quite the opposite, because she was what Giada called ‘control-demonified’. The Countess was the kind of demon who didn’t let you know she was angry straight away. She’d wait and bide her time, and at the moment when you least expected it—just when you had started to think you’d got away with it—she’d strike. And she’d strike in the most vindictive, malicious way possible. Other demons enjoyed inflicting physical pain, but with the
Countess it was all about power and victory and crushing her opponent psychologically, which was far worse in Giada’s opinion. Physical pain was temporary. Physical pain she could deal with. But it was emotional pain that hurt the most. The Countess was a real sick puppy.
She left her dungeon, hurrying down the long, rocky pathways that led to the Countess’ home. In the short time that she’d been here, Giada had learnt not to draw attention to herself—to make herself as small and insignificant as possible and melt into her surroundings. As she scurried, shoulders hunched and head down past the demon plea- sure rooms, she ignored the howls of agony. She turned her face away from the skin-flayers, pretending not to notice the scores of minions getting disemboweled. It was a continual pattern, because here in Hell their bowels regenerated, which meant they ended up getting disembowelled again.
Outside one of the rooms Giada saw a female minion on her hands and knees. She was pleading to not to be sent in. Her eyelids were fluttering rapidly and she was pulling at her red, blotchy face as she pawed at the demon’s legs in desperation. Giada knew she was wasting her time as demons found such protestations both pathetic and amusing, but ultimately their lust for sadism always won out. The poor woman would be tortured for fun.
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