Erryn reviews Purgatory Playhouse (Magic Emporium Book 1) by E.J. Russell. The ebook was released September 16, 2021 and is 232 pages. The audiobook was narrated by Greg Boudreaux. It was released March 25, 2021 is 6hrs and 1min. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: I loved the Fae out of Water series.
Staging a musical in Purgatory can be absolute hell.
Lonnie Coleridge last saw the sun in 1968. Since then, he’s been consigned to Limbo, still wearing the same tie-dyed T-shirt and bell-bottomed jeans he had on when he left his life behind. He and others like him have one chance each year at redemption: produce a show for the Greek pantheon. Whoever pleases this very specific – and temperamental – fan group could earn the right to move on.
But after a literal act of god (*cough* Hermes *cough*) destroys their sets, lights, and costumes, the company needs emergency help to rebuild. Without it, all of them could poof out of existence forever.
Out-of-work theater technician TD Baylor has precisely three things on his cosmic wish list: a job, a place to stay, and a boyfriend who isn’t a total tool. He thinks he’s got the first two nailed when he gets a line on a two-week gig that includes room and board. So what if the job tip came from a guy who was leaning way too hard into the LOTR cosplay at a sketchy Halloween pop-up? At this point, TD doesn’t have anything more to lose, so he figures…what the hell.
He didn’t realize hell was the operative word.
When Lonnie greets him at the theater door, though…whoa. TD fantasizes that item number three could be within his reach. But then Lonnie gives him the bad news: This is Purgatory Playhouse, aka Theater of the Darned. In two weeks – if they’re lucky and can successfully mount a musical version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – the company will return to Limbo after the curtain falls. If they’re not lucky?
Remember that part about hell?
Purgatory Playhouse is part of the multi-author Magic Emporium Series. Each book stands alone, but each one features an appearance by Marden’s Magic Emporium, a shop that can appear anywhere, but only once and only when someone’s in dire need. This book contains a theater techie who’s one couch surf away from homeless, a production assistant who’s sort of, um, not alive, Greek gods behaving very badly indeed, and a guaranteed HEA.
I love EJ Russell paranormal books, and this audio was no exception. Her creativity knows no bounds and, in the case of this story, her knowledge of Greek gods is impressive. I just finished another novel with plenty of Gods, so I sort of feel like I’m getting the hang of this. Or at least I know when Hermes shows up, chaos is sure to follow.
I’m also a theater major who has never worked a day in paid theater in her life. I loved my studies, but never could translate that into work. Sigh.
But T.D.? My dream job – technician at a theater. Now, he’s pretty desperate and this gig sounds pretty good – he just doesn’t realize he’ll be working with those in limbo. Who put on this annual production every year for the gods. The capricious gods who send one person per year on to the afterlife. The rest are left in Purgatory to do it all again next year. My definition of heaven – not so much for these guys and gals.
T.D. Is all about supporting those around them – he fights for better working conditions, and takes safety seriously. He also takes Alonzo seriously. Lonnie is everything T.D.’s ever been looking for, but the timing is seriously crappy – because Lonnie isn’t going anywhere at the end of the production while T.D. will be back to couch surfing and trying to avoid crappy men.
Now, of course there’s a happy ending, but I did wonder how it would all play out… Was Lonnie going to be chosen to move on? Could T.D. go with him? How would that even work? And if T.D. returns to the land of the living, how can Lonnie possibly follow? You’ll have to read to find out.
The book is brilliantly narrated by Greg Boudreaux, of whom I’m a huge fan. So definitely pick this one up.
10/10 Pots of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
E.J. Russell–grace, mother of three, recovering actor–writes romance in a rainbow of flavors. Count on high snark, low angst and happy endings.
Eh, not so much.
She’s married to Curmudgeonly Husband, a man who cares even less about sports than she does. Luckily, C.H. also loves to cook, or all three of their children (Lovely Daughter and Darling Sons A and would have survived on nothing but Cheerios, beef jerky, and Satsuma mandarins (the extent of E.J.’s culinary skill set).
E.J. lives in rural Oregon, enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.