“PRETTY IN PINK MEETS MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE”
Is that a great tagline or what? Welcome to the tour for Jukebox Hero by Jason Stuart! Read on for book details and a chance to win an amazing giveaway — A signed copy of the book AND in keeping with the theme, a couple of John Hughes box sets (80’s movie classics)!
Expected Publication Date: April 30th, 2021
Genre: 80s Mashup/ Superhero Fantasy
Publisher: Burnt Bridge
It’s Back to the ’80’s like never before!
Things aren’t all rainbows and cupcakes at the corner of Elm and E streets. Molly Slater just wants to forget everything she can’t remember and play heavy metal with her best friend in the garage. And maybe get a date for prom if he’s not a skeeze.
But someone in this ‘burb has been killing redheads, and Molly has the reddest hair of them all.
When a night of babysitting gone wrong gets her in the crosshairs of the local gang scene, Molly discovers fabulous secrets about herself.
The hunted becomes the hunter as she prowls the darkness that has crept into her sleepy town. But a far more sinister force, some thing from another world, has other plans in store for her…
I was sent a kindle version of this book for review purposes – thank you to Jason Stuart and Shannon from R & R Book Tours.
Jukebox Hero is a fantasy novel set in 1980s America with superhero elements. There have been a number of killings of girls, all with red hair, and the local police do not seem to be making any progress with the case.
The author is clearly a fan of all things eighties and this novel contains a multitude of nods to the music and movies of that time period. Each chapter begins with a popular song title from the era and the main character of the novel, red-headed Molly Slater brings to mind the actress Molly Rigwald, star of John Hughes movies, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club.
Molly Slater has some gaps in her memory. She is a likeable foster kid, eighteen years old, or thereabouts, as no one knows her actual birthday:
Found wandering around out in the woods south of Stennis, half covered in dirt and dust, just filthy. She didn’t even speak for three days, just sat catatonic. The guys from social services called her Space Cadet. When she finally started talking it was just yes or no answers at first. She couldn’t remember her name, her parents, where she was from, how she got there, nothing. Blank.
She is a keen guitar player and music fan who works in a clothes/record shop after school, run by Tracey, a fashion queen. Her best friend Lydia is a goth but Molly prefers rock and rocks out on her electric guitar in her foster parents’ garage, whenever she gets the chance. She likes a boy at school called Easton Braddock who seems to be into her as well, but there appears to be more to him and his friend, Nguyen than at first meets the eye. Molly’s nemesis, a girl called Becky de la Beckwith used to date Easton and does not want him to have anything to do with Molly. She is now dating another boy at school, Blake, a ‘richie’ who also seems to have mysterious secrets he is keeping from the other kids.
The other characters of this book are Molly’s foster brother Howie, known as Hurl and his group of friends, who add a Goonies-like thread to the story.
The language of this novel, particularly the dialogue, is full of American eighties slang, much of which I wasn’t familiar with, since I grew up in England, which made it something of a challenge to follow at times.
All of a sudden, Molly starts to develop superpowers. She is able to read the feelings of the people around her, becomes bulletproof, extremely fast and able to jump really high.
The characters are quite caricature-like in that they take everything in their stride. Molly is pleasantly surprised to find she has superpowers but it doesn’t seem to faze her very much. They comment on the fact Blake carries two swords and speaks in an old worldly manner but don’t spend much time thinking about it.
Molly decides to use her powers to help fight crime in the town and decides her Superhero name will be Sledgehammer after the Peter Gabriel song she loves. There are rival gangs,
Les Mutants Rouges gang and the Dreds causing all kinds of trouble in town. Blake Elvis bails the gang members out of jail and we discover he is far from human, but is an ancient creature who has been disguising himself as a teenage highschooler. The creature calls itself the ForgeMaster and believes he earned Molly as his bride price many centuries ago.
…all debts must be paid. Hers most of all.
The narrative is occasionally told from The ForgeMaster’s point of view, so we learn that he thinks himself a god and that he sees Molly in the same way. He has great mystical powers of creation and creates an android killing machine which looks exactly like Molly.
No ‘80s high school story would be complete without a prom and this one does not disappoint. Prom is coming up with the theme of “Ancient Future”. Molly and her friends form a band and play at the prom, while she hopes that Easton will dance with her.
The pace of the novel is fast, with plenty of action scenes and a final battle which ties up many of the loose ends. I would recommend this story to fans of 80s movies and music, who enjoy contemporary fantasy.
Available to buy on Amazon
—Night Ranger, 1983
Three standing grandfather clocks gazed down at her that morning, ten years to the day since they found her wandering alone with no memory—not even a name.
There, at the corner of Elm and E Street, Molly Slater (the name they’d given her) gripped her Fender Stratocaster like it were a weapon forged for her hands. Her fingerless gloves whispered at the strings, ready to saw down some serious noise. Jordache jacket with the sleeves ripped off at the shoulder. Purple lipstick and double-earrings. Corvette red hair. Bette Davis Eyes.
The garage smelled like the early morning—no other sound but her Cons slapping the dewy concrete. She kicked away shorted out gizmos and various half-finished contraptions littering the cold slab floor. Hoyt, her foster dad, fancied himself the inventor. Any day now he’d invent their way into riches untold. Any day now.
Those grandfather clocks ticked at her as she plugged into the Peavey. More of Hoyt’s tinkering, thinking he could set his machines by them. Each triggered a different chain reaction every morning. One fed the dog. Another opened the garage to the day. A third…well it never worked anyway. She stared at them, as did they her in return. They held no judgment, only the looming doom of the impending hour.
As the garage doors groaned, opening to the dim autumn light outside, she cranked up and twist-tuned her axe. She gave it a gooseneck and sliced right in. Mötley. Halen. Bowie. Duran. Whitesnake. Saxon. Maiden! Fluidly, she moved from one riff to another. She was totally, epically zoned.
She lived in that fifteen minutes.
Those granddads thundered their terrible news.
The parentals shouted.
“Shut that racket off! You’re gonna be late, I swear to every god,” the mother said. As if there were gods. Molly just shook her head, put up the guitar and grabbed her bag. “And put on a hat on that red hair. I don’t want you getting murdered by that maniac!”
So dramatic. Like anything that interesting could ever happen.
About the Author
Jason Stuart is from the ’80’s. He came through that cocaine-fueled fever dream and lived to tell this story. Find him on Twitter: @raiseaholler and Facebook.com/raiseaholler. This is his 4th book. And, no, that’s not his real hair.
Prize: 1 signed copy of the book plus two 80’s classic movie box sets!
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