Review of “How to Get to Heaven” by Trina Jacobs

Janet has died during what was supposed to be a routine appendectomy. Something went wrong. Now she sees a ghost in the corner telling her not to go into the light.

“You wouldn’t like it there.”

The ghost is a young man wearing a black leather jacket and blue jeans, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Fonzie from the television show Happy Days. He’s not Fonzie. For one, he’s transparent. He tells her he’s not Henry Winkler, but her guardian angel. She wouldn’t be able to pronounce he real name.

“How about if you call me ‘Bob.’”

He’s not quite what she expected.

But she’s dead. Understandably, she doesn’t want to be dead. Who’s going to take care of Mr. Fluffyfkins?


This is lighthearted and, frankly, a bit silly. There is some slapstick at the expense of a couple of ghost hunters in an operating room—not the operating room where Janet died, but some other operating room Bob and Janet enter after Janet picks a numbered door.

Bob’s speech is laden with catchphrases. When Janet persists in wanting to go toward the light, Bob says, “Eeeeeehhh!” in imitation of a game show “wrong” buzzer. When she gets the situation right, he says, “Bingo!”

While I felt some sympathy for poor Janet, who has just died and is worried about her cat (even if she gave the poor critter revolting name!), the arcade atmosphere of her reception into the afterlife quickly wore thin for me. Not that there isn’t room for humor or slapstick in such stories. I didn’t find Bob believable or sympathetic. Is he a ghost? A guardian angel? I wondered at first why the choice of the Fonzie character, but then I found it fitting—all style, short on substance.

The story is not bad. It could have been much better.


According to her blurb, author Trina Jacobs living in Oklahoma with her husband, three dogs, a cat, and a horse. She is a member of Oklahoma Science Fiction Writers. According to her smashwords profile, she was born on Halloween and her writing has appeared in about a dozen magzines and anthologies.

The story can be read here.

Title: “How to Get to Heaven”
Author: Trina Jacobs
First published: Theme of Absence, May 24, 2019

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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