Book Review – Purgatory Playhouse by E.J. Russell


Magic Emporium
Publisher: Reality Optional Press
Pages: 171
Characters: TD/Lonnie
POV: 3rd
Genre: Fantasy/Shared World

Blurb:
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 desperate theater techie, a production assistant who’s sort of, um, not alive, Greek gods behaving badly, and a guaranteed HEA.

Buy Link

Review

I love how each author writes a unique story within this shared world. This fun read was very different than what I’ve read before and I loved TD and Lonnie’s story amongst a backdrop of Greek theatre… kind of. The contents of the save me sack and how they were needed in the story was very clever, and perfect for the tone of it. I always enjoy the glimpses of the Emporium itself, and its staff.

I loved TD, and the way that, after his initial shock, he took everything in his stride, and stood up for what he believes in. I thought the author set up his background very well, and although Lonnie and the rest of the Darned need to be saved, so does TD. I liked the twist on why his life has gone downhill. Lonnie is a sweet guy who has had a raw deal, and I liked how his sensibilities are very much a reflection on the time in which he comes from. I loved how he’s prepared to give up his own happiness to protect TD—that’s true love.

The worldbuilding is fabulous, and I loved the author’s take on Greek theatre, the myths, and the characters from those stories. The author knows her stuff about the theatre too and it shows.

The ending is perfect, and I loved how Lonnie and TD finally got their happy ending.

5 out of 5 stars.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at https://annebarwell.wordpress.com
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