Hello everyone! This is my stop on the Escapist Book Company tour of A Cup of Tea at the Mouth of Hell by Luke Tarzian. I had the extreme pleasure of editing this book and have worked with Luke before. I’ll go into more detail in the full review, but I will say that this book has left an impact on me, even all these months later. For now, here’s some more about it!
A Cup of Tea at the Mouth of Hell by Luke Tarzian
Series: Whimsy Hell
Genre: Absurdist Fantasy
Intended Age Group: Adult
Published: August 7, 2022
Publisher: LukeTarzian.com (Self Published)
Content/ Trigger Warnings
Shown on Page (things clearly told to the reader):
- Suicidal ideation
- Parental loss
Alluded to (things only mentioned in passing or hinted at):
BRIEFLY, A WORD ABOUT ORDER
Order is the focal point around which existence revolves. Without order there is only chaos. And in the halls of Damnation (pronounced Dam-NAWT-ion, thank you kindly) the first sign of impending chaos is a cup of tea made without the water having first been well and properly boiled in a kettle.
Why is this relevant, O nameless narrator, you ask? Who cares about the preparatory order of tea in the fires of Hell?
Lucifer, dear reader. After all, how does one expect to properly greet the newcomers to Hell without having first had a hot cup of tea to bulwark the cold?
Behold The Morning Star, frantic on the annual Morning of Souls, the arrival of Damnation’s newest recruits.
Someone has misplaced the kettle.
Sad Boi Searches for His Missing Tea Kettle • Bring Your Tissues • Me, Myself, and I and the Times We Got High
I’ve worked with Luke a few times now, and each time, he has delivered something new and profound. A Cup of Tea has been no exception. Luke’s work almost always has an immaculate sense of poignancy and clarity, but this book was singular in its depth.
When my grandmother died, I was lost and broken. I had no one that I felt properly understood my agony and grief. I wish I’d known Luke then. I wish I’d had this book then, because I had no idea what I was feeling. And while this book deals in the whimsical and morbidly funny, it also deals with the completely earth-shattering heartache that comes with death.
The central plot of the story is the search for Lucifer’s tea kettle. Its purpose? To stave off the cold. In Hell. When you get there. They serve you a spot of warm tea. And honestly? That sounds better than anything Heaven has to offer. Maybe I’m bitter and cynical, but the idea of demons serving me tea has a nice ring to it.
With the biting wit of Stoudemire, our sometimes-narrator, we are taken on a journey through Heaven, torture, meeting God, and back to Hell, where the true heart of the story resides. And Luke’s character creation, once again, is perfection. Stoudemire and Lucifer are fun and well-written, with both of them having just enough personality to fill the page without completely overshadowing the other.
Then, there’s the writer. I admit I was thrown off a bit when I first read the book, but after some reflection, I’ve come to realize that those parts are essential to the book. They don’t happen quickly, and it’s a bit of a slow build. But when you realize their purpose, your heart breaks. At least mine did.
Still, none of that prepares you for the gut punch that is Act III. I wish I could tell you that there is a happy ending. That it gets wrapped up in a nice little bow. But it doesn’t, and I think that’s what makes it beautiful. Still, while the ending isn’t happy, it’s hopeful. It makes you need a hug, but there is a silver lining in the distance, beckoning you. And Luke does it so well. You will cry. You will rage for him, and sometimes for yourself. Because we’ve all been there, haven’t we? Known someone, loved them—all just to lose them. And I think that’s what makes this book so special. It resonates on a level that we can all understand. Our frequencies align with Luke’s as he bares his soul to us and trusts us with his innermost thoughts. It is a brave and bold move. And the payoff? Better than anyone could have imagined.
So Luke, thank you. Thank you for trusting us. For showing us our own emotions and helping us choke them down. We love you for it.
About the Author
Luke Tarzian was born in Bucharest, Romania. His parents made the extremely poor choice of adopting him less than six months into his life. As such, he’s resided primarily in the United States and currently lives in California with his wife and their twin daughters. Somehow, they tolerate him.
Unfortunately, he can also be found online and, to the dismay of his clients, also functions as a cover artist for independent authors.