I had a pretty crap day at work today. It reminded me why I like to escape to other worlds occasionally.
Oddly enough, those other worlds are occasionally a tad violent. And yes, I don’t miss the symbolism there 🙂
One such alternate reality is that inhabited by Dante Valentine, the ass-kicking necromancer/bounty hunter creation of Lilith Saintcrow.
Late last year I read – and enjoyed – Lilith Saintcrow’s new YA series, Strange Angels (writing as Lili St Crow), which prompted me to check out her earlier work, targeted at adults.
First up is the dark fantasy Dante Valentine series. I recently finished Working for the Devil, and am now tracking down the other four books in the series.
It’s somewhat of a futuristic sci-fi/fantasy hybrid, featuring a world with advanced technology fuelled by magic. It’s dark, bleak and neon-lit, often reminiscent of Ridley Scott’s classic film Bladerunner.
Dante’s society has experienced “The Awakening”, and “ psis” – those possessing paranormal skills – now wield the power (political and mystical) within it. It’s a world of necromancers, shamans, skinlins, dirt witches, magi, and plasguns.
Dante is among the most powerful necromancers of her generation. Her life is violent and unpredictable, but it pays the bills.
Then one day, the demon Japhrimel arrives at her door and literally takes her to Hell, where the Devil makes her an offer she can’t refuse: eliminate a renegade demon or die.
Aside from the obvious issue (working for the Devil), Dante has a couple of other problems: she has a bloody history with the target demon, and she doesn’t want Japhrimel as her partner. Dante can barely trust her fellow humans, let alone a servant of Lucifer.
Aside from almost non-stop action, this first book is primarily concerned with the changing relationship dynamic between Dante and Japhrimel. Their antagonistic partnership is at turns entertaining, violent and increasingly intense. It’s far from romantic, but oddly compelling.
Dante is tough, foul-mouthed, angry and self-sufficient, but with enough vulnerability to make her sympathetic, while Japhrimel undergoes a subtle transformation as he spends more time with the necromancer.
Saintcrow sets up a complex mythology (far removed from biblical ideas of Hell and demons), and her narrative voice is strong and engaging. Working for the Devil clearly establishes these character and sets up what should hopefully be an engaging series for those of us looking for escape from the daily grind…