Title: Dark Side of Purgatory
Author: LJ Hadaway
Format: Ebook provided by Bewitching Blog Tours for review
Everyone knows Jaxon Slater. He's the life-of-the-party guy. He's the fun guy we want to invite to our outdoor barbeques but not marry our daughters. He is our nephew, the next-door neighbor who drinks too much, a friend of a friend that overdosed on heroin. He's the class clown in high school that was always in trouble from drinking and driving.
Jaxon Slater has 'pushed the envelope' and tried to scam his way through most of his life. He's charismatic and good-looking. Many things come easy to Jaxon. Sobriety isn't one of them. He's tried staying clean numerous times but always falls into a relapse, using one more time. His long time sponsor had warned him plenty. His last use of heroin landed him dead--in Purgatory.
Jaxon believes he is having a terrible nightmare until he finds an old friend and recalls how he died. Reality sets in and Jaxon begins to learn the rules of the strange land. He runs into a mean bunch of guys and an unlikely guide. To have a chance at saving himself, he must complete a quest: find a certain young woman and steer her away from the highway of destruction that killed him.
Old temptations linger, and dark forces shadow his path. Can Jaxon survive the abyss of his deepest fears to find redemption?
This is a pretty dark story. If anyone has ever been or known an addict, they will definitely identify with this, and parts of it might even be difficult to read. To me that means this book is a great success, making the reader feel something even if it isn’t necessarily warm and fuzzy. First level of this story is about a guy, Jaxon, who has died. He is currently in purgatory and he has a “mission” to complete before he can proceed to what can only be assumed as is Heaven. If he fails, well… down he goes. Second level to this story is the compounding factor is that Jaxon is an addict. Alcohol and heroin have hurt him, his family and his friends for most of his life until they finally killed him for good and sending him into what he initially believes is a nightmare, but soon learns that his new reality is the actual nightmare.
Jaxon wakes up after falling off the wagon and a one night stand with a petite blonde he met at the bar. But something is off. Maybe it’s the lack of movement around him, that strange smell, or the fact he was back in the old neighborhood. Maybe it is because he is talking to his old friend, Shorts, who was decapitated on his bike years previous. So Jaxon is…dead? The scenery purposely lacks vibrant color, which in my opinion we often associate with joy. There are no birds or butterflies, no children playing in the street, no sprinklers taking care of the lawns. Everything is still and quite eerie. This visual really grabbed me, made me feel like this was indeed Purgatory.
Much of this story is Jaxon revisiting key points in his life. Some of them are good, but most definitely are not. Much in the way an addict has steps they need to accomplish before they finish treatment, Jaxon needs to go back and review these points to realize what happened and move past. Some instances require forgiveness and some require realization. At times it can be very emotional and sad. But there are some good times, like a very sweet and tender moment involving his niece that gives me hope that all is not lost on Jaxon. But much like an addict, he is his own worst enemy.
Jaxon is giving the task of “saving” someone on the living side of things. A young girl, Dale, is on the edge of going the same path as he. In my opinion her story was not as interesting as his, but then when everything comes together there is a light shown on everything that kind of makes you go “ahh! Of course!” The author did a wonderful job of weaving this whole story together and giving you enough surprises along the way to keep you interested and entertained.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. Parts were quite raw and depressing. This is a story about an addict who hurts everyone around him, after all. I found reactions and situations to feel very true and real. I think readers looking for something a bit different will enjoy this. For me personally there were a few slow spots, but that can happen with any book.
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