26 September 2018

Review of Our Frail Disordered Lives


Larry Kavanaugh is an ordinary kind of guy. He’s got a nagging wife and two kids, both annoyingly gifted. No matter what he does, there is no end to what his family needs. What’s a regular, everyday guy to do? Well, he cuts a few corners, obviously – one very big corner. He sells his soul to the Devil.

Maybe it’s not the actual Devil, but Larry is ready to make a deal with one of the Devil’s minions. He meets some demon whose name he can’t remember. Funny, it was right on the tip of his tongue, a name of something you step on. Roach the Demon has sort of good intentions. He just wants a re-write of Dante’s Inferno with himself as the star.


Roach goes after Larry as a rogue operation. He needs to make a point to his boss, Satan, so he uses the body of a human to follow Larry around and stir up trouble. He offers Larry an airtight guarantee that nothing could possibly go wrong. After all, Larry does not feel like he has much to lose – or does he? Even Roach might be in over his head this time.



Roach the demon is low on the totem pole in the business of souls. Unappreciated and ridiculed by the upper management, i.e. Satan, Roach decides to go rogue and disappear to the Upper World. There, in various human disguises, and with the help of an IT demon named Scorch, he continues to wreak havoc. He's determined to prove to Satan that he is an important asset and that he never should have been overlooked during the writing of The Divine Comedy.


"There were times, like right now, one had to get the hell out of Hell."

Larry Kavanaugh is a whiny, self important jerk. Larry has a wife and kids, but nothing is more important to Larry than Larry. He has no idea how to even tell the truth. His entire career is a even a lie. He makes a deal with Roach to not get caught, which throws quite the wrench in the plan of reneging on the contract for his soul because of course, the devil is always looking for a loophole. 

The basic plot behind Our Frail Disordered Lives is not a new concept. Man sells soul to devil for personal gain. Devil lies, cheats and steals. However, experiencing the story from the viewpoint of the contract writing demon is a new one for me.  I liked aspects of the setting, such hell being more of a business and the devil being the Boss. There was a lot of humor that I wasn't expecting from this story like poor Roach and his rage over the The Divine Comedy. 


While Roach and Scorch were my favorite part, I didn't really connect with any of the characters. I did like that Larry's wife doesn't stay browbeaten. She sees through Larry and eventually does the right thing for herself and her children. Larry, of course, is not meant to be a likable character.

The cover was what initially drew my attention and it's beautiful, but I'm not exactly sure how it correlates to the story. I would have liked to see more character development but the various bylines were woven together well. While I wouldn't call this horror per se, it was an entertaining read. The pacing stayed on track and there were plenty of plot twists to keep my interest. 



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About the Author

Mary M. Schmidt was a student in Rome during the '60's, where she came to know of the feral cat colonies. She is an author of prose, poetry, and was a member of Poets Against the Iraq War.  She currently live outside of Annapolis with her cat, Graycie.