A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Much Salem witch trials history, especially the role of Samuel Parris and stories of his executed victims. Some historically important locations around Salem, Massachusetts, are mentioned and visited. Hell, purgatory, and heaven closely resemble the author Dante's version from Divine Comedy. There are circles for different types of sinners and a place of judgment, though judgment is done by Anubis, an Egyptian god. Includes characters and creatures from books and lore about hell: Faust, Methuselah, Anubis, daemons and demons, oni, imps, sirens, brownies, and Lucifer. Plus some figures from heaven like seraphim.
Friendship, trust, facing fears, and growing responsibility. Following what's right no matter what rigid rules dictate. Don't prejudge others: These characters may be from hell, but they're the fallen angels with an important job to keep evil in check.
Positive Role Models
Malachi is full of doubts about his future. He's not sure he wants the responsibilities of being a leader and hides his concerns from his longtime friends. This causes a rift he must repair, and he learns a lesson about the importance of trust among friends, how secrets can weigh you down. As story progresses, he feels more confident as a leader and decision-maker. But Malachi does sneak out of the house and never gets over his dislike of confiding in adults when things get hairy. He always wants to handle things himself.
Malachi has crushes on a girl and a boy, and Charity has two moms. The main characters, hell's angels, face discrimination from those in heaven. Even though they do an essential job running hell and keeping evil souls contained, they are still often called demons and considered bad. It takes a long time for one of the seraphim to see them as more than demons.
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Violence & Scariness
A girl is kidnapped and almost hung in a tense scene where she slowly chokes to death before she's saved. A mugging and push onto train tracks, fights with a choke hold, and threatening people in pursuit. Stitches sewn at a kitchen table without anesthesia. A threatening ghost-like presence riling up a town to commit violence. Self-harm including jumping from a window and in front of a car -- the unnamed person who jumps in front of a car is killed. Many reminders of people threatened and executed during the Salem witch trials in the 1600s -- a reenactment of a hanging shown in shadow with talk of someone crushed to death as punishment. General talk of the torment in store for souls in different levels of hell.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Main character has crushes on a boy and a girl -- just lots of admiration and blushing and a little incidental touching that leads to more blushing.
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Lots of "hell," of course, usually referring to the place but also a "Hell, yes." "Son of a --" and "shove it right up your --" written like that. "We are all screwed." And a girl has a shirt that says "Witch please."
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Products & Purchases
Candy bar brands mentioned often and collected as a bribe. A stop at Walgreens.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Darcy Marks' Grounded for All Eternity is a fantasy about unlikely heroes, a group of fallen angels from the suburbs of hell who will one day be in charge of hell's operations, a very important job. Right now they are young teens who sneak out when they aren't supposed to and end up trapped in Salem, Massachusetts, with one particularly nasty escaped soul: Samuel Parris, the orchestrator of the Salem witch trials in the 1600s. Parris stirs up a whole lot of trouble the teens try to contain. A woman jumps from a window and is saved, a man jumps in front of a car and is killed. A girl is kidnapped and almost hung in a tense scene where she slowly chokes to death before she's saved. There's a mugging and a push onto train tracks, fights with a choke hold, and threatening people in pursuit. Stitches are sewn at a kitchen table without anesthesia. Expect many reminders of people threatened and executed during the Salem witch trials, including a reenactment of a hanging shown in shadow with talk of someone crushed to death as punishment. Readers will learn more about the trials as well as lore around hell, heaven, and purgatory. It follows pretty closely to Dante's version in The Divine Comedy, with circles of hell. Other mature content is mild. Swear words are implied more than said --e.g., "son of a--" spelled like that. Malachi, the main character, has crushes on both a boy and a girl that stay at the blushing and stammering stage. Malachi is a reluctant leader full of doubts about his future. As the story progresses, he learns to trust his friends with his fears and how freeing confiding in friends can be.
Is It Any Good?
With the occasional storytelling hiccup, this fantasy goes from hell to earth and back again, with fun unlikely heroes, some scares, and a fresh vibe. Who knew you'd be rooting for the kid from hell -- literally -- and his friends? Malachi has big black wings and a serious case of boredom and restlessness when an escaped soul ruins his summer plans. His accidental jaunt to earth (luckily incognito -- his wings are missing) will land him in so much trouble, and he's got to get home quick. But then he sees what came through the veil with him and knows he has a job to do. Parris is slowly getting stronger as he riles up the town -- here's where the scares and muggings and fights come in. Malachi needs help. Two of his friends come through from hell after him, the brilliant Lilith and Crowley, the magician of the group. And he makes two more friends from earth: a boy named Sean and his friend, Charity. And one of the seraphim pops by too, and a brownie.
OK, now it's getting complicated. All these characters are needed and more in order to combat Parris' sinister presence, but they are thrown in the mix hastily and often late in the game -- adults with supernatural skills show up really late with very little introduction. Also, Sean and Charity could have announced who they really were much sooner. No need for secrets there. It's hard to start a series and world-build, especially for a new author (this is her debut), especially when you're working with multiple dimensions and huge concepts like hell and heaven. Now that the time in purgatory of completing a first book is complete, it'll be fascinating to see what author Darcy Marks plans next for Malachi and friends.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.