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Mortality Bridge Hardcover – July 31, 2011
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"Luminously tragic, darkly funny, and deeply moving, all in turns and sometimes all at once. Boyett is one of the few writers who will make you eager to go into Hell, and not worry about whether you return. I wasn't expecting how much this book affected me. Good stuff, folks. Don't miss out." --John Scalzi (Old Man's War, Whatever)
"Through unusual turns of phrase, heart-rending introspection, and mythic tone, Boyett explores themes of betrayal, redemption, and personal sacrifice in a tortured landscape of bedlam and pandemonium." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Niko's race through Hell is one of the greatest supernatural adventure stories of recent memory. It is not a mere allegory about sin and redeption, cowardice and nobility: it's also a damned good story, which sets it apart from almost all existential allegories." --Cory Doctorow
"Brilliant. An unforgettable tale of one man's journey to Hell. The writing is filled with vivid sensory detail. I was pushed to my limits by this one. Immeasurably sad. Moments of transcendent joy and beauty and compassion. A very well-written book that made me feel intense emotion. I recommend it." --Fantasy Literature
"Mortality Bridge has something for everyone: great characterization, vivid description, pulse pounding action. It's a story of human weakness and redemption that's even older than the myths the novel draws upon, a story we can all relate to. An incredible, touching, exhilarating work that I wholeheartedly recommend." --SF Revu
From the Inside Flap
Decades ago a young rock & blues guitarist and junkie named Niko signed in blood on the dotted line and in return became the stuff of music legend. But when the love of his damned life grows mortally and mysteriously ill he realizes he's lost more than he bargained forand that wasn't part of the Deal.So Niko sets out on a harrowing journey from the streets of Los Angeles through the downtown subway tunnels and across the redlit plain of the most vividly realized Hell since Dante, to play the gig of his mortgaged life and win back the purloined soul of his lost love.Mortality Bridge remixes Orpheus, Dante, Faust, the Crossroads legend, and more in a beautiful, brutaland surprisingly funnyquest across a Hieronymous Bosch landscape of myth, music, and mayhem; and across an inner terrain of addiction, damnation, and redemption.
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This story is not for the faint of heart, or the faint of spirit.
It is a book you will either love or you will hate...but I adore it.
It is an intense combination of gut-wrenching introspection, heroic determination and brutal carnage with a slice of hope on the side.
I only ask that you give it a chance and not DNF as a knee-jerk reaction to the violence.
It was worth every gory, emotional, desperate, hopeful and torturous moment. A love story set in Los Angeles and Hell? Bring it on. Steven Boyett is one twisted dude. All you have to do is look at his author photo. That double-pointed black goatee speaks volumes. Even with the visual nod to the ultimate evil, the man did considerable research through the world's collection of myth, epic poetry and legend, yet made the story his own. This book is incredible.
Basic plot synopsis: Niko, an American of Greek origin, an amazing blues guitarist, junkie, lost the love of his life, hits rock bottom after personal tragedy, makes deal with the Devil. Cleans himself up, gets famous, gets his girl back, girl dies, Niko goes to Hell to get her back. Will play in exchange for her soul.
From this barebones synopsis it may sound like Boyett warmed up the Orpheus myth with a bit of Crossroads in the microwave and retold it in a modern setting.
That would be INCORRECT. There are aspects of Orpheus and Crossroads in this story, but it is so much MORE. Boyett created his own mythology out of a plethora of the old ones and stamped Boyett all over them. New, fresh, edgy and dark, this is not your mama's mythology.
Niko is an emotionally charged character. Much like Robert Johnson, at one point, he literally loses everything in his life and the tragedy colors his music. Niko may now be rich and famous, but he is troubled, humble and damned. The only two things that he loves are his girlfriend Jemma and his music. He will literally go to Hell and back for her, and this Hell was designed by Robert Rodriguez on acid. What more could you ask for?
There are surprising moments of camaraderie, aid from unseen allies, short stark moments of beauty and humanity amidst the torment. There is even humor. The riff on Siamese cats is LYAO...
There is also driving-by-the-seat-of-your-pants adventure, heartbreak, car chases, a few classic characters, a few moderns, the best classic car, and I can't talk about anything else or spoilers will fly out.
There are three messages that ring loud and clear above it all:
Love is the strongest power in the universe.
Take responsibility, be humble and ask forgiveness
Free will is the most precious gift imaginable, and the most underrated.
In reviews, readers throw around references to Orpheus, Dante's Inferno, Virgil's Aenead, Bosch's Underworld paintings, Robert Johnson's Crossroads, but they should also include the cult of Hades, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey , the Egyptian myth of judgment, paintings of the underworld by Bruegel, the Sumerian epic poem Gilgamesh, the Twelve Labors of Heracles, Persephone, Auguste Rodin's Orpheus and Eurydyce, the epic poem The Harrowing of Christ and many others. Don't expect to find these classics in recognizable form. For example, you won't find Dante's perfectly demarcated circles of Hell with a single type of suffering for a single sin, but there will be different sections of an infinite Hell for a single sin torment, including some from the Inferno and a sighting of Virgil with his lamp. Boyett has taken, in his words, a knife, to the abundance of source material and made it his own in some uniquely extraordinary ways. His choice of torments for specific sins is ferally imaginative, downright ghastly and all his own.
Boyett takes imagery to a new level, and frankly there were two times where I wished he wasn't quite so spectacular, as I keep seeing these images as I write this review. Keep reading! The text is salted with bits of light. Just wait until you get to the aqua-eyed, stone demon that flies on filagreed wings. Now that is goodness squared.
Niko's trip through hell cannot be described without spoilers. Just buy the damned book. You'll be thanking me later ( unless you abhor violence, then stop immediately).
If you appreciate the classics, are a sucker for true love and can handle the violence without tuning it out or skipping it, you have a wonderful experience just ahead. It was deeply emotional and more uplifting than any of the descriptions or reviews hinted.
But I HATED most of the book. It isn't the idea of Hell, or the incessant torture, it's the fact that the POV character and the author don't spend enough time reflecting on the unfairness of the place and what sort of God would allow it to be that way. Even children are being tortured for all eternity in this version of Hell. And with all this horror, Niko is so wrapped up in his own little world that all he can think of is saving his girlfriend's soul.
While this is supposed to be an improvement over his previous narcissism, it's not MUCH of an improvement and I could never really feel any sympathy for our "hero." Or anyone else in the book, for that matter.
Can you like a book while hating everyone in it? I don't know.