A good many people whose opinions I respect immensely have done nothing but praise this very short novella (novelette?) by Lee Thompson, and after reading the first few pages, I thought I could see why. Opening with a heinous crime that no parent or partner could read without feeling disturbed, When We Join Jesus in Hell never lets up its frenetic pace, as POV character Fist goes on a grief-fueled rampage of revenge, even as his mind unravels and he slides increasingly further into madness.
Lee Thompson is hell of a writer insofar as the chances he takes with his narratives (at least that's what I'm gleaning from the two books of his I've read), and his unusual style of prose that flows disarmingly easily - even while describing horrific scenes.
And yet (here we go!) I never really warmed to Fist after that opening scene. In fact, all of the characters seemed disconnected from reality to me, so that some of their decisions had me frowning in disbelief, even as I wondered whether Fist could be considered a reliable narrator, especially given his fragile mental state.
So, yeah, When We Join Jesus in Hell - despite being fantastically titled - was just a decent read for me, and one that did not come anywhere near hitting my "special" button.
The short story following it, BENEATH THE WEEPING WILLOW, was a risky take on a crumbling family, told from the POV of an autistic child. It was also cleverly written in the second-person, present-tense format, which based on my usual tastes, should have really annoyed me. However, in this instance, it worked a treat. So I guess I'm siding with this review from Edward Lorn in saying I found the short to be better than the titular novella. Go figure.
All in all, I'd still recommend this to any reader looking for something dense to digest. Don't be put off by my rating; I'm told I'm hard to please.
3 Reasons to Check on my Sleeping 2 Year Old Daughter for When We Join Jesus in Hell.