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Working for the Devil, by Lilith Saintcrow Book Review | SFReader.com
Working for the Devil, by Lilith Saintcrow Genre: Dark Fantasy Publisher: Orbit Published: 2006 Review Posted: 10/16/2007 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated
Working for the Devil, by Lilith Saintcrow
Book Review by C. Dennis Moore
Have you read this book?
So what do you do when it's your day off and all you want to do is watch soaps, but a demon comes to your door, pointing a gun in your face and telling you the Devil demands an audience with you? If you're anything like necromance/bounty hunter Dante "Danny" Valentine (i.e. a mortal human being), you go with him.
Once in Hell, the Devil offers Danny a job, one she's reluctant to turn down since one of the advantages to completing the job is she gets to live. Actually, she'll get to live for a long time, having been granted near-immortality and wealth beyond imagining. And all she has to do is kill a demon who's escaped Hell with one of the Prince's treasures, an Egg that, if opened on Earth, will bring about the Apocalypse. Problem is, this demon, Vardimal, has already been granted a special ability, for lack of a better word, by the Devil; he cannot be killed by either demon or human. So Danny's got quite a task ahead of her.
Lilith Saintcrow's Working for the Devil is the first in what her website predicts will be a 5-part Dante Valentine series--yet another in a line of series books designed to sell directly to the Anita Blake audience, and it's got all the requisite components: a tough-as-nails female lead, monsters, sex, first-person narration. But Working for the Devil has something none of the other similar books I've read recently ("Kitty and the Midnight Hour, Succubus Blues") have: holovids. Working for the Devil isn't just another copycat series, Dante lives in a world advanced from our own, Saintcrow has decided to put her in a futuristic sci-fi world with slicboards and hovertrains and plasguns, and if you ask me it's just a bit too much. Demons and necromances and magi in the regular modern world would have been sufficient; for me the addition of the futuristic society is a touch of overkill and weakens the book. Others, however, may say that's the detail that makes the series stand out. Who knows?
The characters were decent enough, if a bit cliché. Dante's the untouchable heard-hearted loner who, even though she insists numerous times she works alone, ends up letting her best friend Gabe, Gabe's boyfriend Eddie, and Dante's ex Jace join the gang, along with Japhrimel, the demon assigned to protect her until the job is over. Naturally she's the best fighter in the group, and when she confronts the Devil, has no problem smarting off and verbally sparring with him. Yet another detail that took me out of the world and reminded me I was reading a book. When the Devil asks Dante if she thinks she could fight her way out of Hell, Dante replies, "Do you think you could be polite? 'Cause I have to say, your treatment of a guest kind of sucks."
Well, you're in Hell, facing the Devil, what did you expect, coffee and cake?
The writing, like the characters, is average enough. Saintcrow gets her point across, her prose is understandable and all the action verbs and adjectives are in the right place, but there's little here that stands out and makes me take notice. A lot of people sitting bolt upright and grunting their replies. Prose-by-the-numbers, basically.
The plot itself, if you've read any of the other series books in this genre, is predictable to a point. That is, the events that will come to shape the Dante Valentine character are predictable, if not the actual plot points. We know pretty early on that Dante and Japhrimel will wind up in bed together, so when it happens two-thirds of the way through the novel, we're not surprised and I don't feel one bit bad about giving away that detail because we know almost from page one it's going to happen. After all, Japhrimel tells Dante pretty early that he feeds on either blood, sex, or fire, so you figure it out.
I went into this novel with an open mind and a forgiving heart, hoping there'd be something here that set this series apart from the others in the genre, but looking at Saintcrow's website (www.lilithsaintcrow.com) and looking ahead at the descriptions of the upcoming Dante Valentine novels (parts two and three have already been published), I can already tell I won't like this series and that Saintcrow is pretty much just rehashing old plot lines from other books. In one of the upcoming installments, psychics are being murdered and Dante is framed for the crime. I bet it took all of 4 seconds to come up with that one.
If you're a fan of this genre, and you're not too picky, you might just enjoy Working for the Devil. But if you're one of those readers who likes original plot and characters, well, you might want to look elsewhere because from what I could tell by this first in the series, it's gonna be the same old same old all the way through. For her sake, and the sake of her fans, I hope Saintcrow proves me wrong.
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