Review – A Cup Of Tea At The Mouth Of Hell(Or, An Account of Catastrophe by Stoudemire McCloud, Demon)

Book Blurb:


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.

Gathering my thoughts and forming a cohesive review for this book is a difficult task. The weight and profundity of A Cup Of Tea At The Mouth Of Hell, is juxtaposed by its brevity and small page count. It is also a difficult book to review because each and every reader will interpret and be affected by this book in differing ways. But here follows my thoughts and reaction, nonetheless.

A Cup Of Tea At The Mouth Of Hell is a heart-breaking, deeply profound meditation of grief and pain in all its facets. Laced with absurdist concepts, cutting humour and moments of revelation and lucidity, this story hit me in a way I never expected. Author Luke Tarzian lays his soul bare for 90 and I can only applaud and relate. I lost my dad to leukaemia nearly 25 years ago and there were moments in this book that floored me, lines that hit me in a place that I had almost forgotten I had been too. Places that I knew I had to go back to in my grief and in that sense, this read was deeply cathartic for me.

Grief is an abstruse, complex, kaleidoscopic emotion that comes and goes when it pleases, regardless of where you are or what you are doing, regardless of whether you want to cope with it that day. Luke’s anger, rage, depression and feeling of loss permeates through the story, and underlies the thematic and symbolic nature of the tale, pouring from the page like tears.

The story itself follows Stoudemire McCloud, the secretary to Lucifer (Or has he preferred, The Morning Star) and their quest to find the missing kettle to make a cup of tea. What follows is a tragic, fantastically surreal yet cathartic, exploration of loss, its overwhelming nature and how it affects us.

I find myself connecting with this book in a way I never expected, laughing out loud to a scene involving debaucheries between archangels and cherubs, to several outpourings of pain and anguish that had tears rolling down my cheeks. I realised that, at times, I had, or still do, experience what Luke does even 25 years on, as he conveys his grief either directly or allegorically.

As heavy as the themes are, Luke writes with a whimsical pen and his prose is delightful to read. At times lyrical, other times searing with an underlying rage of loss, his words seep into your very soul, making this a deeply personal piece of writing that I feel honoured to have read. Fiction has the unique power of channelling ones deepest and darkest pain and to have that shared and connect with it, is palpable, unforgettable, and profound.

There are some short essays at the end of this book, which are also deeply personal and echo Luke’s grief from a contextual point of view but are no less hard hitting. Once again, I found a real connection with his words and memories surfaced of how I coped or didn’t cope with the death of my dad for the first few years. I really appreciated reading these essays and they really emphasised the importance of memory and how that is indelibly linked with grief and pain. That one song that you can’t listen too because it unearths a pain you aren’t willing to suffer, or a place or meal that will forever be associated with someone you love who is no longer there. It plays havoc with your day to day life at times.

I feel your pain Luke and I join you in solidarity over a hot cup of tea.

Please check out all the other amazing bloggers who have participated in Escapist Book Tours, its been wonderful to read their reviews and to see what they took from the book.

Book Links:

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Signed copies:


Author info:

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.



Website: and

One response to “Review – A Cup Of Tea At The Mouth Of Hell(Or, An Account of Catastrophe by Stoudemire McCloud, Demon)”

  1. Wow! The book sounds difficult but meaningful and your review is amazing.


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