Paul Magrs is the author of the brilliant Brenda & Effie novels, in which the Bride of Frankenstein has moved to Whitby to run a B&B, and his earlier novel To The Devil - A Diva! feels like a bit of a dry run for that series. It starts with a surprisingly touching, low-key sequence where two girls from Manchester are evacuated to the Lake District during WWII, where their adoptive "parents" seem to get ever-stranger. Move to the present day and Sally seems to be just another pensioner, while Katy has become Karla, a seemingly ageless actress who was a cult figure in the '60s and '70s as the star of numerous soft-core lesbian vampire flicks (my favourite title of these is "Get Inside Me, Satan!") The story kicks off as Karla returns to Manchester to join an X-rated soap opera, whose gay star isn't thrilled about his new co-star as he blames her for his mother's death.
As the title suggests this is a high-camp romp, largely set around Manchester's gay village where Sally's grandson strikes up a relationship with Lance, the disgruntled soap star. The characters are nicely drawn, it's very funny and often filthy - the gay sex scenes should keep the slashfic fans Round These Parts happy. The sex scenes are also hilarious, notably one character's encounter with a man with a cock shaped like a Walnut Whip. Sally does feels like a precursor to Brenda (she even has a best friend called Effie) and my main criticism is that the story's climax is a bit abrupt - it definitely feels likes Magrs intended this to be the first in a series, but he did the Bride novels instead.