RELEASE DAY-DUAL REVIEW: Go For The Company- Carnival of Mysteries Anthology -Ander C. Lark

Go For The Company Book Cover Go For The Company
Carnival of Mysteries Anthology
Ander C. Lark
Contemporary Fantasy, Gay Romance, LGBTQ Fantasy, Magic, Anthology
Cranky Tiger Press
August 9, 2023

Someone once said, "Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company." Gabe Rossi didn't believe in either and figured it would be a long time until he had to deal with finding out if he was right. Instead, he's dragged off a balcony the day after an unnerving meeting with a fortune teller and into a postmortem reality he never would have expected.

Now Gabe is in Hell, which ends up being full of some really nice people who have necessary (if unpleasant) jobs. He's been promised a transfer to Heaven, but in the meantime Gabe will have to deal with a psychotic ex who's turned out to be a former despotic ruler of Ancient Rome, an aged-down grandmother who keeps causing chaos, corporate politics, a pet hellhound, a lot of unanswered questions about his own existence, and a growing attachment to the guy in charge of the place. What's a dead college student to do, aside from enjoy the company?

Go for the Company is part of the multi-author Carnival of Mysteries Series. Each book stands alone, but each one includes at least one visit to Errante Ame’s Carnival of Mysteries, a magical, multiverse traveling show full of unusual acts, games, and rides. The Carnival changes to suit the world it’s on, so each visit is unique and special. This book contains slow-burn paranormal romance, asexual representation, and a guaranteed Happily Ever Afterlife.

DUAL Review By Ulysses Dietz

Wow. How to even start? This is a wild ride, going beyond paranormal to parametaphysical. I don’t want to spoil, which will take some tricky slight-of-word.

Gabe Rossi is a graduate student, just trying to get his PhD in botany. What little social life he had disappeared when he dumped his abusive boyfriend. Raised by his all-too-young grandmother, he is all alone in the world, and is mostly OK with that.

Then the Carnival comes to town, unexpectedly appearing on the site of a long-defunct and demolished shopping mall on the bad side of town—right across the street from Gabe’s crummy apartment building. The alluring scent of caramel corn draws him across the street. As anyone who’s read any of the Carnival of Mysteries books, the Carnival has a plan.

This time, again, Madame Persephone, the fortune teller, plays an important role. She even gives Gabe his own personal set of special tarot cards in exchange for a bag of caramel corn. As we have all learned from reading this series, visitors to the Carnival are set on the path to their own truth. That path is never straightforward.

The story takes a rather sudden turn when Gabe’s ex shows up at his apartment uninvited and unannounced. Then it all goes to hell.

Gabe is an interesting character. He’s not immediately warm and fuzzy—and why should he be, given his background? The one person who brought out the best in him, his grandmother, is gone. He has been taught to mistrust and remain aloof. Thrust into unexpected circumstances, Gabe is prickly, but largely because he sees everyone as a potential threat.

But he meets great people along the way. Lucy and Stan, and his neighbor Stef—wh0 has two other friends who embrace Gabe as well. Then there’s Tempest, a massive terrifying dog who instantly adopts Gabe and seems determined to protect him. All these denizens of an unfamiliar place give Gabe the kind of chosen family he’s never had before. Stan becomes his boss (head of the “Company” of the title), but Gabe begins to feel that there’s more there than he expected.

Filled with wry humor and spiced with some weirdly comical horror, this is a really quirky take on the Carnival of Mysteries theme. With its light-hearted (but thoughtful) issues of life, death, and what comes next, I found it pleasurable and provocative.


DUAL Review by Linda Tonis

When Gabe Rossi broke up with his abusive boyfriend Thom, he could never have imagined what horrors he would face because of it. Gabe woke up in the morning to find a carnival had set up just outside his apartment building. He had no interest in games or rides, but the smell of caramel corn was too hard to resist. As he entered the carnival a man told him to see Madame Persephone the fortune teller, she has what he needs.

Gabe does not believe in fortune tellers but enters her tent just the same. Despite his insistence that she doesn’t read the cards for him she does it anyway. Confused by what she told him and even more confused when she shoved a deck of Tarot Cards at him and told him not to lose them. Gabe left, returning to his apartment and his nightmare would begin then. Thom picked the lock on his door and tossed Gabe and himself off the balcony.

When he opened his eyes, he discovered that they were in Hell, Thom was expected but Gabe was asurprise he should not have gone to Hell. One shock after another a big one was that Thom was an escapee and was Caracalla an Ancient Roman despot. Considering that as Thom he was an abuser being a tyrant was no great surprise to Gabe.

Since Gabe wound up in Hell instead of Heaven arrangements must be made for him to be moved up. So much to acclimate to and so many surprises Gabe must adjust to. He is befriended by a Hellhound named Tempest who doesn’t let Gabe out of his sight, always in protect mode. Satan is Stan and blames humans for adding an a to Stan.

Tempest keeps Gabe from harm and Stan hires him to work arranging his office which is piled high with papers. Gabe takes to his new job and makes more discoveries about Hell some which would make people consider whether Hell is not a bad place and is filled with amenities and fun places none of which I will mention.

Gabe is reconsidering whether he wants to be sent to Heaven since he is finding a place for himself and friends in Hell. Gabe becomes Stan’s Executive Assistant, and he takes his role very seriously, seriously enough that he angers others with his strict rules. No one can come up to see Stan without permission, no one can be late, or they are refused entrance and the list of rules grows longer.

Just when Gabe feels he is safe word arrives that Caracalla has once again escaped. Where he is and what he has planned is unknown but there is no doubt that trouble is coming, and Gabe could be in the line of fire. When he saw Madame Persephone, she hinted that he would go on vacation and if Hell was his destination, he hoped he would meet her again to give her a piece of his mind, but alas he is dead.

This was another wonderful edition to the Carnival of Mysteries series. This was the first time I read a book that made Hell sound like a vacation destination and according to someone in Heaven, Heaven is boring. Gabe, despite the serious direction his life has gone in, is an amazing character who says what he thinks and brings a smile and laugh even in the darkest hours.

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