Series: Sandman Slim #1
Published by Harper Voyager on January 8th 2010
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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Also by this author: Dead Set, The Everything Box, The Wrong Dead Guy
Supernatural fantasy has a new antihero in Sandman Slim, star of this gripping, gritty new series by Richard Kadrey.
Life sucks and then you die. Or, if you’re James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles.
Now Stark’s back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you’d expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future.
Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse.
Darkly twisted, irreverent, and completely hilarious, Sandman Slim is the breakthrough novel by an acclaimed author.
“So why’d you come back?”
“I’m going to kill some people,” I tell him. I pour the Jack into the coffee. “Probably a lot of people.”
James Stark is back on Earth after eleven years spent down in Hell, “Downtown” as he refers to it, fighting demons in the pits. He didn’t die to end up in Hell though, his magical group of friends sent him down in exchange for power. They also killed his girlfriend, Alice, the only person he’d ever found that loved and accepted him for who he was, so now he’s back in L.A. for some good old fashioned revenge.
Upon his return, he doesn’t actually realize eleven years has passed and that he’s no longer a 19 year old kid. Time flows differently Downtown. He does manage to bring back a few helpful items to ensure his survival: new Hellion magic to add to the magic he already knew, a magic knife that can not only cut through anything but also quite handily starts cars, a Veritas coin that will answer snarkily any questions posed to it, and a magic key he keeps safely inside his chest (yep, you read that right, inside) which allows him to slip into shadows and appear anywhere he desires. He’s fairly impossible to kill too which certainly helps. Stark is dead set on his revenge, but along the way he gets ensnared in the building evil on Earth which involves some asshole angels, a new sort of beast he didn’t even know existed, neo-Nazis, and even Homeland Security. Suffice it to say, he’s found himself in some shit.
“I’m not rich, but I know I’ll never starve because I can order a burrito and make the counter person think I’ve already paid.”
“Aim high, dude.”
And that’s the best part about Stark: his sense of humor. I adore a great story that is rife with violence and evil and all the wonderful things that go along with that but can still manage to sustain a sense of humor through it all. Stark’s life can admittedly be defined as shitty (eleven years spent in Hell can only be described as such), however, his snide cynicism adds a certain amount of wittiness that makes this damn near perfect. Sandman Slim has often been compared to Harry Butcher of The Dresden Files and while I can certainly see the similarities (male magician, hunting bad guys, solving mysteries, etc.) Stark is an infinitely more compelling character in my most humble opinion. Sure, these books are quite a bit more violent but the violence and the humor go hand in hand. Perfect example: within the very first few pages he’s cut the head off someone but still kept them alive and sat their head on a shelf forcing them to watch infomercials all day.
Bottom line, I really have no excuse for why it took me SO long to read these. They are suited perfectly for me and should be at the top of any Urban Fantasy lovers list. Sandman Slim is the start of a series which is followed by Kill the Dead. The eighth installment, The Perdition Score, is out this June so I have plenty of catching up to do. I can’t wait to dive back into the gritty streets of L.A.
‘There’s only one problem with L.A.
L.A. is what happens when a bunch of Lovecraftian elder gods and porn starlets spend a weekend locked up in the Chateau Marmont snorting lines of crank off Jim Morrison’s bones. If the Viagra and illegal Traci Lords videos don’t get you going, then the Japanese tentacle porn will.’