Supernatural fantasy has a new antihero
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.
I've come to Sandman Slim quite late - it's been on my radar for a while now and when I eventually succumbed, just before going on holiday, I could not believe I've waited this long.
Sandman Slim is simply put, balls to the wall fun - there is violence, bad words, more violence, a gripping storyline, a fantastic anti-hero (who I have a crush on, not sure what that says about me), and a world so rich, so diverse, it blew my socks off. Also, the secondary characters are well developed, interesting and you know they have lives going on in the background rather than waiting around for Stark to turn up.
This is going to be a super short review of Sandman Slim - because basically I'd rather have you pick up the book and read it for yourself than read my tedious words of praise. It's urban fantasy. It's gritty, it feels real, it's sarcastic and mean and nasty in places but the thing that Kadrey manages to do is make you feel so much empathy for Stark that within a few pages of you starting Sandman Slim you are rooting for him...come hell or high water.
The writing is noirish, introspective, tough talking and in some instances, quite introspective and in others, staggeringly perceptive, sad and beautiful. I loved all of Sandman Slim. I love the mythology, I love that it takes place in LA and I love the elements of magic and realism and mysticism that's been used.
Kadrey deserves a pat on the back for giving us a fully fledged hero, flawed, charming, charismatic, rude, obnoxious and mouthy, yet very likeable and relatable. Also, the set pieces are so well done - going from low key revelations (with bigger implications) to full blown Michael Bay explosions and action sequences, to quieter moments where blood has to be sluiced off and reality has to be checked. I've bought the next 2 books to read on my kindle and can't wait to indulge.
|UK Cover of first book|
Sandman Slim is for people who like Gaiman, Mike Carey's Lucifer and Felix Castor books, Ben Aaronivich's sequence of London based urban fantasy police procedurals and the Johannes Cabal books by Jonathan L Howard. There were hints of The Crow, Constantine (the graphic novels rather, also by Mike Carey, better known as Hellblazer) and a bit of Mignola thrown in for good measure when it comes to the layered world that Stark inhabits.
Do yourself a favour, if you're not entirely sure about urban fantasy, but you like noir novels, pick up a copy of Sandman Slim. You genuinely can't go wrong - the writing is superb and with a rich cast and a world that feels real enough to make you check under your bed and not trust a magician you see on TV as far as you can throw him, because you know, are you sure it's only done with special effects.....
Find Richard Kadrey's website here. The Sandman Slim books are now out in the UK too, and these are the covers - which I quite like. Pity I started with the first US edition...but now that I'm buying them on the kindle, I suppose it doesn't really matter...(goes to add the UK editions to her wish list regardless).