Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence by Michael Marshall Smith

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Delve into this quirky tale if you want an irreverent literary shot in the arm.  I happened upon Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence at my local library, and boy, am I glad I picked it up.  This novel, about a whip-smart 11-year old who saves the world, is a must-read for anyone who likes a touch of the otherworldly. 

Do you like stories about the Devil?  How about a devil version who’s impatient, dry, sarcastic, and perhaps even protective of the humans he considers his associates?  No?  Even if he wears a dapper black suit?

How about a demon side-kick named Vaneclaw?  He looks like a mushroom and he drops things.

Hannah Green is living a child’s nightmare.  No – not meeting the Devil.  That’s not it.  Her nightmare is that her parents are getting a divorce.  Her mother just moved to England for work, and her father is being driven to distraction by his own desperate sadness.  Because of this, Hannah is temporarily sent to live with her eccentric grandfather.  Just until things get sorted out.

Hannah soon discovers that her grandfather has been hanging around on earth for a couple hundred years.  It also turns out that he isn’t just a watchmaker, but a brilliant engineer who created a contraption so incredible, so complex, that it absorbs the evil energy from our world so it can be sent directly to hell. 

Hannah’s grandfather also happens to be pretty good pals with the Devil. 

Without giving too much away, this contraption stops working, and the fate of the Earth is at stake.  Could it be that there are forces out there that are so dark, so terrifying, so lustful for power that they make the Devil look like a good guy? As the author quotes:

There are heroes of evil, as well as good.

-La Rochefoucauld


Even in the midst of this epic good vs. evil battle, the novel effectively develops every character.  Hannah gives new meaning to the word spirited, and the Devil’s glib demeanor actually made me root for him. Everything is upside-down in this novel, but what hits the mark is a clever cast, a wildly creative plot, and some pretty sincere lessons.  I also found myself laughing out loud more than once (thank you, Vaneclaw).  Overall, this is a delightful page-turner that puts a smile on your face long after you’ve closed the cover.

I’m now an official fan of author Michael Marshall Smith, and am adding his other novels to my (enormous) TBR pile.  This modern fairy tale deserves your attention – give it a try!