Hell’s Belles is the fourth in what is now referred to as ‘the Brenda and Effie series’. For those unfamiliar with Magrs’s recent output, Brenda is the bride of Frankenstein, while Effie comes from a long line of witches. They live in Whitby in the UK (where else?) and divide their time between hanging around tea shops and fighting the forces of evil. So far we’ve had Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster (Brenda’s other half, as it were) and demons of all shapes and sizes. Magrs is a great storyteller, and it’s a measure of his talent that he’s able to take characters drawn from popular mythology and make them his own.
This latest adventure sees the introduction of a character from an earlier, previously unrelated novel, To the Devil a Diva, in the shape of campy, vampy actress Karla Sorenson. Karla is in town to shoot a remake of her ’60s schlock horror classic, Get Thee Inside Me, Satan, and rather creepily she hasn’t aged a day. Gleeful references to Hammer Horror and Dennis Wheatley abound, but it’s the central characters who really hold our interest, and Brenda with whom we sympathise most. She may be a reanimated corpse, made from other people’s body parts, but this book proves there’s plenty of life in the old girl yet.