Rating: 3.5 Stars ★★★☆☆
I wake up on a pile of smoldering garbage and leaves in the old Hollywood Forever cemetery behind the Paramount Studio lot on Melrose, though these last details don’t come to me until later.
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.
Jimmy Stark has had a pretty shitty life so far. He was betrayed by his magic circle and sent to hell, where he spent the last eleven years of his life being tortured, made to fight beasts and used as an assassin by Azazel, Lucifer’s general.
But then the guy who sold him to hell, Mason, kills the only thing he cares for: his girlfriend, Alice. So he claws his way out of hell, determined to get revenge.
“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.”
The bartender picks up a rag and starts wiping glasses. “Guess someone’s got to.”
“Thanks for understanding.”
All he has on him is a irreverent gold coin, a bone knife and a key that leads to every place in the universe. Stark’s also the narrator of this story and he’s grumpy, violent and swears a lot. He’s a little psychopathic.
He’s also really fun to read. I got exasperated sometimes because instead of planning shit out, he just goes in, guns blazing, disregarding all consequences.
But I can also see where he comes from. Those years in hell didn’t pass him by unscratched and back on earth people aren’t treating him that well either. The magical community has it out for him, a secret angelic society has it out for him and yeah, his nemesis, Mason is also around trying to get him.
I also liked the setting. Lucifer and his generals, civil war in hell, angels that are little self-important shits and a God that makes mistakes.
“At the beginning of time, the Lord God made a mistake. Frankly, to some of us, He made two mistakes, but since He likes you talking monkeys, we can’t fix that one. So we turn our attention to the first great mistake.”
An ill-tempered protagonist trying to kick Hell’s and Heaven’s ass – what’s not to like?