Read Recently — February 2008 — Urban Fantasy

The Devil’s Right Hand by Lilith Saintcrow

Okay, so that whole “hearing Steve Earle’s Music when I hear certain titles” thing is still ongoing.

Since she got her demon lover back in Dead Man Rising, Dante Valentine has been wandering around Europe, living in luxury, and whining like it was an Olympic sport. Then Japhrimel, the abovementioned Demon Lover, brings the news that the Devil wants to talk to Danny. In fact, he wants to hire her as his new assassin (“right hand”) and track down five demons who escaped from Hell, thus challenging Lucifer’s authority as head demon. At least she has Japhrimel’s support . . . right up to the point where he turns into a giant, flaming Demon asshole (image deliberately chosen for your amusement) and has her kidnapped and imprisoned, for her own protection, of course.

I already had reservations about Japh, dating back to the first book where he turns Dante into a kind of half-demon without even checking with her if it’s all right, and coming through to this volume, where he expects her to mindlessly obey his instructions without ever explaining what anything means. I was also bothered by Dante’s willingness to forgive him for anything. I’m not sure, but I think I was bothered by this one way out of proportion to what actually happens in it . . . but after the kick-ass chick of the last two books, the revision of Dante Valentine as a whiny doormat does not interest me.

I’m trying to decide whether I want to go on and read the fourth book, but that decision has been taken out of my hands, for now: I can’t find it in the bookstores (though the fifth book seems pretty widely available).

Anyway, cautiously not recommended.

Little (Grrl) Lost by Charles deLint

T.J. Moore recently moved with her family to the suburbs of Newford when they sold the family farm, and her horse with it. T.J.’s more than a little bummed about that, so when a hole in her wall opens up one night and what she thought were mice inside the wall turns out to be a six-inch tall, blue-haired teenager named Elizabeth, T.J. is more than ready for some distraction. Elizabeth is running away from home, but she soon realises how unprepared she is for the world outside the walls of the big-people’s house. But by then, her parents have moved on, afraid that the Littles have been exposed to the Bigs, and that they’re in danger.

Littles have appeared in deLint’s work before, so there’s a bit of a mythology built up around them already, and this gives TJ and Elizabeth a few options, including meeting with author Sheri Piper, who has written about Littles in her stories (and has actually met them in real life). But dogs and cats aren’t the only predators who could threaten Elizabeth, and some two-legged predators could be a threat to TJ, too.

This one took a while to get working for me, and I don’t know why. But once it did get going it was excellent, as deLint mostly is. Among other things, there is an excellent “Goblin’s Market” under the streets of Newford. I was a little disappointed that one plot twist, relating to an underdeveloped plot element, didn’t go in the direction I thought it would, but hey, no book is perfect.

Highly recommended.

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