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
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.