OTHER VISIONS OF HEAVEN AND HELL by Jessica Palmer. Book review

OTHER VISIONS OF HEAVEN AND HELL by Jessica Palmer, Parallel Universe Publications, p/b, http://paralleluniversepublications.blogspot.com

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

With Parallel Universe Publications, readers always get their money’s worth as Jessica has over 20 short stories to interest the discerning horror reader. Some have been published in anthologies such as Last Laugh for Weirdbook #28, Cinderella Revisited, Weirdbook #29 and What the Dickens in Substance.

Jessica, the daughter of a professional clown has had 28 books published in several genres, horror, fantasy, science fiction and is no stranger to being published by some of the more interesting imprints of popular publishers; McFarland, Scholastic and HarperCollins’s Element Books as well as UK’s Thompson. She keeps herself busy writing science and technology manuals, writing textbooks about Native American history and satirical columns; A Slice of Life and How to Make Love to your Personal Computer.

Of all these stories, I have a few favourites as, for me her writing style reminds me of the late Damon Knight, full of humour and comical situations you can’t help laughing about. Both heaven and hell get a look in here with stories that have characters we have definitely heard of before. Devil Woman has Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson entangled in another mystery to find Tonga, assisted by Mary Morstan, Watson thinks it’s bad form of Holmes to put a lady in danger, but knows there is something strange about the whole situation, Bill Gates shows up in The Gates of Hell where he is sent to Hell as a punishment for “one of the most diabolical inventions of the 20th Century,” and the demons have some fun getting their own back, Cinderella makes an appearance in a revised version of the popular fairy tale in Cinderella Revisited where the fairy Godmother would never envisage how she would turn out after what she does for Cinders.

The stories are short enough and punchy enough to give readers an idea of what to expect from Jessica as a seasoned writer of fiction. I found there was a lot to enjoy and glean from her short works. Her style is fun rather than being too dark to read and once I had read one, I couldn’t wait to get on to the other. In this anthology there is an excellent mix of fantasy, comedy horror and some well-placed science fiction ones tossed in for the fun of it.