The Graveyard Shift: A Lovecraftian Horror Comedy (24/7 Demon Mart)
1 journaler for this copy...
We first meet Lloyd as he's explaining how he wound up battling hell beasts - due, he sums up, to "student loan debt... and the devil". And, it seems, slushies; he's addicted to the many exotic flavors of the sugary beverages at the 24/7 Dairy Mart. He's doing his usual scatterbrained thing, distracted by cute Goth-girl clerk DeeDee, discovering that he doesn't have enough change for his beverage, and fretting about getting home in time for a video game rematch - when previous clerk Carl crashes into Lloyd on his way out of the store. And lo! Lloyd finds out (very gradually) that he's been tapped as the next clerk, working for store owner Faust and for night manager Kevin (a grumpy middle-aged man in the body of a cockroach).
Lloyd's pretty annoying from the get-go, clearly very lazy, unmotivated, and not that quick on the uptake - and also wildly inconsistent: once he figures out that he's now working for a devil at a hellgate, he panics about the state of his immortal soul - not to mention his bodily safety, as battles with monsters trying to breach the gate are a regular thing. But he doesn't even think to read his employee handbook despite repeated admonishments that it contains info that will help save his life, and when he gets a surprise guardian angel (via a Magic 8-ball, hence "Angel eight ball"), he flatly refuses to listen to it at all. So... afraid for your soul but unwilling to commune with an angel? Oh, Lloyd, you poor bewildered dude!
The tone of the series is over-the-top goofy with moments of horror and a lot of "ew, ugh!" (usually when various slimy things spew bile, or are damaged and ooze unnameable substances - and sometimes when Lloyd bothers to notice the state of his own personal hygiene). The rules of the Demon Mart are many, and involve things like the procedure for ensuring that beings trying to get through the gate have the right documentation, that Bob the Donut Guy turns up on schedule (and nobody eats the donuts except for paying customers), that the staff stays out of the way of the cleanup crew (the crew is very single-minded and will clean up anyone or anything left lying around), the procedure to take when someone tries to rob the place (it... does NOT end well for the robbers), and much more. And, of course, each of these things are demonstrated in the stories, including the results of failing to follow the rules - not that this tends to stick with poor Lloyd. How the guy survives from one episode to the next I don't know, but somehow he seems to fit into the weird goings-on.
By the end of the book Lloyd's found that he can - almost - cope with a cockroach as a manager, a giant blue eldritch-horror centipede (Bubby) as a customer and occasional helper, an incubus named Morty as another customer (who irks Lloyd by flirting with DeeDee), and the oddly unresponsive Chef, whose food is amazing though his conversation is nonexistant. But then Lloyd realizes something that the reader will have gathered long ago: the cleaning crew AND Chef are... zombies!!!
This should give some hints as to where Lloyd's thoughts will be focused as of the next book!
[The book has an author afterword, "Book Sausage", which was not included in the audiobook, and which is quite entertaining; the author explains how her mother instilled a fondness for horror early in her life, and how a short stint at an all-night convenience store (sans demon gate) gave her inspiration for this series. She's also an ex-roller-derby player AND a survivor of stage 4 kidney cancer, with that and other things described on her web site dmguay.com.]
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
I left this book in this handsome Little Free Library on this snowy day; hope someone enjoys it!
[See other recent releases in NH here.]
*** Released for the 2020 Spooktacular October challenge. ***
*** Released for the 2020 Tick Tock challenge. ***