Release Date: July 13, 2011
Publisher: Focus House Publishing
Synopsis from Goodreads
Trapped! Could young Nate ever get past the trauma of his own death and move on to Heaven? Or should he return to Earth and try again?
1940's coastal Maine was not an easy place, and it was especially brutal for Nate's father, a banker and a flatlander who had moved north to begin pulling lobsters from the Maine coast. Barely getting by, the relocated family struggled to survive. But they were hated by the locals, and that hate soon turned to violence.
Now, traumatized by the violent murders of his parents and himself, nine-year-old Nate finds himself somewhere between Heaven and Earth, a place where dead relatives can come and go, but a place where he is stuck.
Desperately missing his real life, but too frightened to go back to Earth, Nate spends decades in this half-world where other luckier souls blink in and out within hours or days at most. From his unique perch, Nate watches in horror as his surviving younger sister tries to cope with their family’s brutal past. Who is worse off, the sibling above or the sibling below? Either way, it seems that violence and tragedy are to follow them no matter what their paths.
I was approached by the author, Tim Greaton, to review this book. I knew I was going to be in for a very interesting read, but sweet Jesus! From page one, this book grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let up until the end. Like others have said, because it is true, I really can’t believe this is only $1. The mystery surrounding this book is so overwhelming; I guarantee that even though this book is intense, it will leave a smile on your face.
Under-Heaven is two stories in one. One story is about a boy named Nate who has been killed. He doesn’t go immediately to Heaven; however, he is in a place called Under-Heaven. It is where souls go that still have close ties to Earth and if their conscious overtakes them, they could still be taken to Hell. Nate can’t remember what happened to him, but he knows it was bad. He learns that things are not as black and white as they may seem and we follow him as he struggles in the afterlife. Read the synopsis, it does this best. The other story is about another boy named Jesse. He has a mom and a dad. Dad has a big problem and his mother wants nothing to do with him. We see how Jesse struggles with wanting a father, but Jesse is scared for him and for those he hangs around.
This is another book I will have to tread very carefully with. Any small thing I say could spoil this and I can’t do that to you guys. Trust me, it will knock you out of your seat. I loved our main characters. I am not use to reading books where the points of view are from an 9 and 10 year old. We see how they have to struggle with hardship and have to take on adult roles for the sake of the ones they love. Nate had to for the sake of his baby sister, Vicky. After what happened to him and his family, Vicky grows up and is heading down a horrible path. Also all the other people (dead relatives) he meets in Under-Heaven that makes a huge impression on him and bring so many personalities to this book. Jesse is the man of the house because his father can’t grow up and be a man. There are times when Jesse has to become the parent for his dad’s sake.
This story was so beautifully told and well written. I had a connection with all the characters because each brought a certain emotion to the story and it really drives this book into intense and scary places. Again, I won’t spoil this, but the real focus is watching how these boys struggle with the situations that have been forced on them. What can they do to get out of their predicaments? Can they help those they love? Can they keep their family together? Following them on their intense journeys and watching them trying to make adult decisions, really adds something extra special to this book and was very thrilling to see.
You really have to check this book out. Like I said, it was very intense. If you are a parent, I think it might strike an extra chord with you. It is sad, scary, and sweet all at once. I don’t really have any complaints except for one character that we are introduced to, Mary-Lou Evans. She was the very definition of a psychopath and I really would have liked to have known what happened to her. She really opens Nate’s eyes to what is real evil and I just want to know where she went. Hope it is where she deserves to be. This book does talk a lot about Heaven and Hell, but it isn’t preachy. Even if you aren’t a religious person, you will love this book. It truly puts a little spin on things we have heard and it just makes it that much more refreshing. Highly recommended!
*This book belongs to the following challenge*
BCC's Horror & Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge 2011
Stalk Tim Greaton here: