Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Dirty Streets of Heaven Review


Why is it that fantasy books like this, about the war between heaven and hell, always take a left turn and wind you up in some very existential territory? You would think it would all be cut and dried: demons are like orcs and its morally, emotionally, and socially ok to genocide them with extreme prejudice and not feel one iota of guilt, remorse or angst for doing so. But characters in the story cannot help but ask why? Why is it all set up like this? Why do we do this? Who or what really are we fighting for? What really are the rules? What really are the options?

Bobby Dollar is vividly brought to "life." This guy is so dark, he's jaded with the afterlife. He's sick of heaven and its golden city beauracracy. He's sick of hell and its sleazy horrors. He's sick of a world that is at endless war where there seems no end in sight, no resolution, no reasons for its existence other than those guys are bad, and we are good.

Bobby is going to ask some very dangerous questions and the people with halos are going to be extremely pissed off. The people with the horns aren't going to be all that happy either. I loved the fact that this guy is such a troublemaker that he gets on everyone's bad side: a vicious duke of hell hates him as much as the winged seraphs of heaven.

Like in the real world, when someone asks who benefits from this war, a hush falls across polite company like an untimely fart."Its just, you know, the way it is." Not good enough for Bobby who is sick of just taking orders. He takes a walk on the wild side, lands in some dangerous company with the queen of all bad girls, has a primeval horror chase him through the streets of LA dead set on eating his liver for dinner, and learns more than he wants to.

The characterizations are the book's main selling point. A complete set of side characters with their own arcs and motivations. The worldbuilding impressed me as well. Backstories abound about the eternal conflict and the author's inventiveness kept me hooked.

If Raymond Chandler wrote Paradise Lost, it might have looked like this.

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