You'll pry my books off my cold, dead body. By the time you shift them all I'll be flat and dessicated.
I almost gave up on this during the very flat (despite hideous monsters and grossness) prologue which explains the three worlds: Life (our world), Spirit (a heaven-like realm where souls are healed before being reborn), and the Half World, which is supposed to be like Purgatory but isn't because by some mischance the three worlds were completely separated so now those in the Half World are trapped in an endless cycle of experiencing their trauma over and over, forever. We open with a pair of young lovers attempting to escape this world and being caught by the revolting Mr Glueskin and his minions.
Luckily, this intro is short and the action quickly takes off. Melanie is a Bastian Bux sort of heroine: fat, plain, sullen, fond of books but no good at school, no friends, no special talents. But she does really love her mother, the feeble alcoholic Fumiko, and when she comes home to find Fumiko missing and receives a mysterious phone call telling her to come to the overpass and find the 4th door in the tunnel OR ELSE she doesn't hesitate. And soon she learns that more is at stake than just her mother's fate...
Melanie is a good protagonist. She is sympathetic even though she isn't particularly likable. She's kind of a bitch sometimes, whining and ungrateful. Poor Jade Rat... This book had more horror-y grossness than I was expecting, but it fit in with the Bosch-hell vision of the tortures of the damned. There are a few things that were frustratingly unexplained, especially (view spoiler) but I liked the overall conception.
I would have liked more art like the cover, as well; despite being listed as "illustrated" there are only a few small black-and-white drawings.