Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: In the House of the Wicked by Thomas E. Sniegoski

Well it's three weeks late but here it is, the review of Thomas E. Sniegoski's latest book, In the House of the Wicked. In the House of the Wicked is the fifth book in the Remy Chandler series, one of my favorite Urban Fantasy series in publication. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I have a soft spot for the Urban series of fantasy books, and my favorites tend to be those involving detectives because things always have a habit of rounding out. There is the perfect mixture of mystery without too many unintentional plot holes, and the characters are always more relateable.

For those of you who don't know, Remy Chandler is an Angel of the Heavenly Host Seraphim who split with heaven after the war with Lucifer. He's spent centuries among humans, trying to pass himself as one and live as we do. For the majority of the plot of the series, Remy has been working as a Private Detective in Boston, solving mundane and supernatural cases for various human and preternatural characters. Most of the characters involved in the story are taken directly from Christian mythos, including Lazarus, Samson and Delilah, Adam and Eve, and of course, Lucifer. All of the characters have been given a modern and/or unique twist.

In the House of the Wicked's cover blurb barely scratches the surface of the actual plot of the book, which is typical of Urban Fantasy novels in general. Almost all paranormal detective series in the market have a typical opening that covers aproximately 1/100th of what the book actually is about. I jokingly relate them to the old Ernest movies, where the main character goes out to do something mundane and ends up in some kind of trouble. "Harry Dresden goes out for coffee", or "Remy Chandler goes to walk his dog."

In his recent story, Remy Chandler is just coming to terms with really accepting his angelic nature after suppressing it for so long, when it's discovered that his young friend, Ashley, has disappeared from college. After promising the distraught family that he will look into things, he discovers that Ashely has disappeared under less than ordinary circumstances, and that it might have something to do with his secret. On the opposite side of things, a secret Kabal of sorcerers is fighting a war in the shadows (somewhat literal in some cases) which might lead to the end of life as we know it.

I love Sniegoski's work. His writing is always clear and crisp with the right pacing to make the books interesting without splitting from the unusual to just plain weird. While reading the book I only found one slightly gaping plot hole which I wouldn't have noticed if I weren't such an anal-retentive show off, and the only gripe I had about the format of the book was so petty it might have been a lemon missing from my ice tea I didn't want to begin with.

I have to give kudos to Mr. Sniegoski first off. All of the characters in his previous books have had something to do with biblical evil. Demons, Lucifer, Delilah, etc. And while there is nothing wrong with that in the least, they have all kind of type-cast Remy as fighting a one-on-one war with Heaven's enemies. The latest enemies in the Remy-verse are monsters, yes, but they are humans first and foremost. Now don't get me wrong, I like that Remy is the saving humanity from the enemies of Heaven that might destroy us, but I like a well-rounded hero who can walk, talk, and chew bubblegum at the same time as he is kicking butt.

In this book, we get a good look at a new character, or old if you like, who, Thomas Sniegoski has said on twitter, will play a big part in his upcoming books. The character's name is Squire, and he is a hobgoblin living in a world of shadows. The character is a former hero, or associate of heroes at least, and he is vulgar on a level that made me actually stop mid-sentence the check again. The writing actually felt different than the rest of the text, he just felt that out of place. When I questioned Mr. Sniegoski about this, he confirmed that, yes; Squire is a character from a previous series he wrote with author Christopher Golden, The Menagerie. Now I genuinely like Squire, and to be honest, if you find yourself skipping over his "chapters" in the book, he grows on you. A bit like a skin-tag, or a non-cancerous mole. But my perspective on bringing characters from other series into a new one half-way through the storyline is a bit like meeting an old frat buddy halfway through a date. Just because you like your friend doesn't mean your date will appreciate you talking about old hazing rituals over crab cakes. In Squires case, though it works pretty well, and I look forward to seeing more of him in later books.

Now on to my own minor gripe, and lets just get it out of the way so that I can fawn over the book more. Thomas Sniegoski's books always have a multitude of perspectives, ranging from Remy to the main villain, even to Remy's dog Marlowe. I've always tolerated the perspective shifts in his previous works because they always round out and make sense to what’s going on. In this newest book, it's pretty much the same, but the perspective shifts were done in such rapid succession that it was almost dizzying. One "chapter" was about a page or two before shifting to something happening during World War II and after. Back and forth so frequently that I felt like I was in a Monty Python sketch shouting out "Get one with it!" Things slowed down after about fifty pages or so and got to the main story, but even so.

I would suggest the Remy Chandler books to any fans of good Urban Fantasy, or detective novels in general. Start with A Kiss Before the Apocalypse and go from there and enjoy a good romp through the world of Heaven and the supernatural corners of Earth. Just don't ask why a certain bartender know things he shouldn't, it would just confuse you.

No comments:

Post a Comment