“Heaven’s Waiting Room has Lousy Magazines” by Elena Sands


Elena Sands
Enlighten Press (2014)
Reviewed by Tammy Petty Conrad for Reader Views (8/15)

This title really intrigued me. We’ve all been in waiting rooms with lousy magazines. But heaven? Will we have to wait there too? I hadn’t thought about that before. Well, this author has. Elena Sands starts her debut novel, “Heaven’s Waiting Room has Lousy Magazines,” in this setting with the main character, Dr. Henry Hall, who has just died. From there, she goes on to explore the various religions of the world, and what might happen in the afterworld.

It really is comical how Dr. Hall discovers where he is and what happens to him. He figures out that people are sent to different locations based on their faith. As an agnostic, he’s out of luck, and is sent into an unknown portal. It is very interesting to read the description of what people are like as they come in, sometimes in whole groups. I have to admit, the crowded, dingy space is not my vision at all, and the judgment scene with cranky monks totally threw me off!

The novel follows Dr. Hall as he enters a new world, Elysium, and learns about how it operates. Nothing is normal here. We are also introduced to his wife who died previously, and who is living in a different world. Henry’s goal is to find her and reunite, but as you can imagine, this will not be easy. The author seems to enjoy turning our ideas of the afterlife totally upside down. It really makes you think about taking care of yourself so you’ll live longer!

The author gives thorough descriptions of each setting, along with the characters and I did find myself buying into the story, but I did find it hard to hold my attention and the 291 pages of dense text took me forever to finish. Although there was an exciting scene at the end, once it was over that was it and the book was done. I wanted more closure.

I discovered from the author’s website that this is part of a series and the second might be titled, “Hell’s Waiting Room Has Donuts and Coffee!” I love an interesting title and readers love series. Maybe this is why the ending didn’t wrap things up more.

“Heaven’s Waiting Room has Lousy Magazines,” by Elena Sands isn’t a book for conservative religious types who don’t want to hear about alternative theories or enjoy a good laugh. However, as the author notes, “It’s really an adventure story and a love story that just happens to take place in a fictional and comical afterlife.”

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