Slay Bells Ring The Rise of the Banner Elk Slayers | By S David Acuff
Book Review | Horror Comedy
It’s Christmas time in Banner Elk, North Carolina. A magical time of year in a hallmark-y kinda way. Dan Helsing is a middle school math teacher there with a cat named Sméagol, no love life and a family curse that is a real pain in the neck.When a hellish portal opens under the local orphanage, Helsing must pull on his big-boy monster-slayer britches for the first and probably the last time.Rogue slayers, Hell hounds and an old school crush back in town—this is the worst Christmas ever.
Narrative and Plot
Slay Bells Ring is a Christmas-themed horror comedy, with an emphasis on the comedy part. The core story is strong. It is fast-paced and action-packed. However, the narrative is where I found it hard to connect with the book.
The entire story is told from the protagonist, Dan’s perspective. He is witty and has a socially awkward comedian charm. This translated into him describing every event of the book with witty quips even in the dire moments which could have used a more somber tone.
The writing was quite descriptive. There was a lot of exposition which kind of threw me off at times. Not that it was an info dump, but it left me, as a reader, with more questions than answers.
Characters and Conflicts
Dan, Jan, and Charlie are the three main characters in the book. Charlie was the one with a strong character arc. Dan clearly took his inspiration from Lorelei Gilmore ( Gilmore Girls) and Chandler Bing ( Friends) as the references indicate. However, at times, the constant wit made him an exhausting protagonist to read. Perhaps it is not my brand of humor.
Even when the plot went through some serious moments, the humor was forced like in the later Avengers movies. It just had to have that one joke in there somewhere.
The romance was there, but there wasn’t much to root for the characters. Jan started out as an interesting love interest, but then she quickly devolved into a plot device.
The antagonist was intriguing for a moment but fell short during the final act.
Slay Bells Ring was a one-time read for me. Other than the style of storytelling, this is an entertaining read. If you are into the whole 24/7 sarcastic commentary narration, this could be a fun read.