Review: Easy Guide to Escape Hell, by Elisa Menz

When Angels Give Flowers to Demons

I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to read Elisa’s novel for a long time. Since I knew her opening chapter from the Become Hooked Contest – which she won, by the way – my expectations for the rest of the text were very high. A challenging place to start for a book, to be honest.

The opportunity presented itself in the form of becoming an ARC reader, so I had to decide whether to write a review that was very supportive of my writing friend or to take a neutral stance and give the story as objective and, therefore, honest feedback as possible.

I decided to go with the second option, and I am so glad that the supportive part will not come up short.

So here is my review of Easy Guide to Escape Hell:

I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. Elisa has talent and knows how storytelling works. However, one also has to consider the production history. I know this is a very unorthodox move when writing a review. Still, it’s important to acknowledge the fact that the novel is self-published and has more quality than many traditionally published works. And it goes without saying that this novel is perhaps the best I have read among self-published stories. Reviewers and critics can be relentless, especially when the spine of a book doesn’t say Penguin, Harper & Collins, or Macmillan. As a result, self-published works are under more scrutiny than ever, and unfortunately rightly so, because many writers have the goal of publishing in mind but not the many steps and tasks that lead to it. Most works are therefore published hastily.

Elisa Menz, however, cared. Very much. She cared about the characters, the plot, the world building and the themes, putting together a coherent and clever text that didn’t reveal the big secret on page ten. The text tells of the darker sides of life. It depicts exciting worlds, as well as humor and love, and Elisa knew how to insert these to lighten the mood and give depth to the story and its characters. 

Also, the author learned from the best. She went to school at Tolkien’s, probably together with “The Boy Who Lived”. She also knows that it’s one thing to be influenced by great works, but another (dangerous) move to copy them. And with all the obvious influences, she has succeeded wonderfully in creating something new, and I’m thinking of Stephen King, who once said that writers should deal with the what-if questions in stories. Without giving anything away, Elisa has taken familiar story tropes, even stereotypes, and given them new meaning or a twist that made her book a refreshing reading experience. And that’s precisely where she hooks and brings in the humor that appeals to the reader. Brilliant.

It’s hard work to write, but it’s a mammoth task to finish a novel, and do all the editing and proofreading, formatting and marketing. Yet Elisa Menz has done it. And there are lessons to be learned from her.

Are there hiccups in the story? Small ones, yes. But nothing that would make me condemn the novel. On the contrary, the author proved that self-publishing can be worth the trouble, and I’m really looking forward to reading more from this wonderful person.

(Release date of Easy Guide to Escape Hell is November 8th on Amazon; go, check out Elisa’s social media channel on Instagram)

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