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Sandman Slim: A Novel by Richard Kadrey
Cover Artist: Arcangel Images / Will Staehle
Review by Gayle Surrette
Eos Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061714306
Date: 01 August 2009 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Harper Collins Author Website / Show Official Info /

From the moment James Stark lands on a burning pile of rubbish in a cemetery, until the concluding page, the reader is dropped into a story that is smart, witty, confusing, original, and totally engrossing. Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim is definitely something new in a field that seems to be getting a bit staid.

James Stark seemed to have it all: Alice, a girlfriend that accepted him just as he was; talent as a magician, and a coven to practice and work with. But that was eleven years ago, as he learns shortly after he managed to escape from Hell. Yes, that Hell -- the one with Lucifer and the fallen angels. Seems his coven decided they wanted more power and one way to get it was to send someone to Hell, and Stark was it -- not that anyone gave him a choice.

Back from Hell, Stark has only one goal, find the members of the coven and take his revenge, because they didn't stop with sending him to Hell, they'd also killed Alice. He's armed with a black bone knife, a Veritas coin, a key to the room of 13 doors, and all the experience he gained in the arena in Hell and as Azazel's assassin. That's quite a set-up and Kadrey doesn't disappoint. While there were many moments that were serious and brought up issues worth thinking about, much of the story seemed a cross between Christopher Moore and Carl Hiaasen--you know that wicked comedic humor that is so hilarious because it hits so close to home.

Stark is focused on his revenge but is continually sidetracked by other problems and issues. He manages, in spite of his attitude and mouth, to gain some allies whether he wants them or not. He learns some things about himself that he'd rather not have learned--but then no ones wants to come face-to-face with their inadequacies or faults.

Even more important than Stark's quest for revenge is the characters he runs into and the world as he knows it. It's a bit different perspective on Heaven and Hell than most fantasies manage to present and it takes the story in directions and onto issues that are not clearly black and white but shades of grey.

Sandman Slim is a treat for those who are looking for something just a bit different in their urban fantasy.

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