Abandoned at birth in a dumpster, 15-year-old, blue-haired punkette Angela is a nightmare to her adoptive parents, causing trouble in whatever situation she ends up in. But, in their last-ditch effort to rescue her, her parents send her to the Academy, an elite boarding school for troubled teens . . .
. . . not knowing it’s actually the gateway to Hell and all the cast-off students are being trained to reap souls for Lucifer. Their lesson? Reap souls or be cast into the Pit.
Think Harry Potter with Hell standing in for Hogwarts. Think Narnia for where Caspian hunts down and eats the Pevensie children, one by one. Think Beverly Hills, 90210 with . . . well, just think Beverly Hills, 90210.
While a lot of people think high school is Hell, creator George Wassil has made it literal. His cast of lost, condemned (sometimes unwittingly) souls are trying to make the best of a bad situation. Under the careful, cruel tutelage of Mr. Ezel, a shapeshifting demon determined to bring out the worst in them, Hell stands in for high school quite nicely.
And, similar to high school, some students excel more than others at being evil. While Angela strives to keep out of the pit, blonde and busty Allesse uses all her Queen-bee manipulative skills to make life Hell for her and her crush, the stoic Zipper. A field trip to reap a soul shows Angela just how out of her depth she really is, and makes you wonder . . . is she too good for Hell?
Owing to its online roots, “Chyrsalides” moves at a fast clip, pulling the reader along with the characters, making us learn as they do. If a little confusing in some instances, the richness of Dave Hamann’s inks and pencils, combined with Michael Birkhoffer’s rich colors, quickly overrides any of that. Angela comes off as a very believable fifteen-year-old girl, the supporting characters give off an air of authenticity (What teen isn’t full of conflict and angst?), and her growing - but seemingly doomed - relationship with Zipper only becomes more poignant with each chapter.
It will be interesting to see just how far down Wassil and Co. will take their heroine . . . deserved or not.
VERDICT: FOUR Hungry Fire Brands out of FIVE