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Working for the Devil (Dante Valentine, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Tough-as-nails necromancer Dante Valentine has a problem: the devil wants her to catch a rogue demon and, for the duration of the task, she must be accompanied by a demon assassin named Japhrimel. If she refuses, she dies; if she accepts, she'll likely die in the process. Dante decides to take her chances with the latter, but her hunt doesn't get into full swing until the book's final third. Instead, she pauses to take a ride on a "slicboard" (a skateboard that glides on air), to wrestle cryptic information from an assortment of nonhuman and magical people and to argue with everyone from Japhrimel to her fellow necromancer friend, Gabe. Though Dante is as prickly as a wet cat and frustratingly adamant about maintaining her loner status, she's a brave, charismatic protagonist with a smart mouth and a suicidal streak. What's not to love? Fans of Laurel K. Hamilton should warm to Saintcrow's dark, evocative debut, though the story's weak relationship thread may disappoint aficionados of the paranormal romance veterans Christine Feehan and Sherrilyn Kenyon. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Combines dark urban fantasy with a splash of cyberpunk, a pinch of paranormal romance. . -- ---Jacqueline Carey, author of Kushiels Avatar
"I have to say this book just blew me away. I ate it up! I loved, loved, LOVED the book." -- ---Gena Showalter, author of Awaken Me Darkly
"Pure fantasy and fun. . . a fantastic escape. I enjoyed it tremendously." -- --- Heather Graham, New York Times Bestselling author
"Working for the Devil works for me! This is one great read." -- ---Susan Sizemore, author of I Burn For You --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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My morning was shot, and my trigger finger is getting itchy. I sooo want to buy book two right now and satisfy my gnawing curiosity. This is a fantastic urban fantasy, and it kept me on the couch all morning when I had toilets to scrub. You might think that any book would be a better distraction than cleaning bathrooms, but that's not so. I'm actually chagrined I that didn't get my housework done, and if I could have torn myself away sooner, I would have. I was compelled to keep reading until I knew it all, and now I'm left with more questions than answers. I've half a mind to order "Dead Man Rising" right now and say to hell with my preordained TBR pile.
Saintcrow throws the reader in with a kind of sink or swim approach. She doesn't stop and explain every nuance within her fantasy world, so I felt like a stranger in an alien land, slowly feeling my way and acquiring knowledge. It's a brilliant way to handle the introduction to a series, and it keeps me wanting more, instead of skimming through boring passages that explain `the rules' with all the finesse of a board game instruction booklet.
I felt an immediate kinship with Danny (how could I not like a woman who sasses Satan himself?), and once that key ingredient clicked into place, I was fully vested in Danny's life. If I'm tied to a story on an emotional level, it's like riding a roller coaster with my hands in the air, and each twist and turn absorbs my complete attention. Watching Danny and Japhrimel grind on each other's nerves was entertaining, and I was not disappointed by the relationship that blooms between this unlikely pair. For an urban fantasy, the romance was more than gratifying, and I expect more in coming books. There is no `happily-ever-after' here, but it's also not the end of the story, just the beginning of the series.
Working for the Devil is set in some vaguely future time. You know that because of the plasglass, plasteel, plasguns, hovercars, datbands, the synth-hash that too many people smoke, and the drug Chill that others get hooked on. The world is not fleshed out; instead the author just substituted some lame futuristic names for common things in the real world.
The main character, Dante "Danny" Valentine, is not someone I would ever want to know. She dyes her hair black, has pale skin, a facial tat that moves, and scars from past bad times. She indulges in gratuitous foul language in every other sentence, which leads me to believe she has anger management problems and/or a limited vocabulary. In the first third of the book, she goes to talk to various characters to get ready for her impossible quest and, in the process, attacks a couple of them for no apparent reason that I could see. I guess this was just to set the stage for how tough she is. I'm not sure.
Danny does a lot of yelling, using the F word way too much, always seems to be angry with even her friends. It makes me wonder how she ever got any friends in the first place. There is a LOT of dialog and a lot of quiet verbalizing in her thoughts, but somehow emotions just don't come through. She screams or cries, but the author doesn't really let me know if Danny is angry or terrified or just hysterical.
The other characters: a demon familiar, an ex-lover, a best girl friend and her lover all seem like two-dimensional props. They help out whether Dante wants the help or not. They argue with her and give her a reason for more vulgar language and/or acting out. I am not offended by foul language, but it really, really gets old after awhile.
In summary, the premise of the story sounded intriguing, but it didn't deliver. With some series, you have to get half or two-thirds through the first book before you really get hooked. I kept turning the pages. I didn't skip anything. I tried to suspend disbelief and immerse myself in Dante's world. I never got hooked. There was no character development. The world-building was lame. Romance and sex were just hinted at. The demon-familiar who becomes her lover gets killed off at the end. The ex-lover who lied to her and abandoned her without explanation moves back in, saying he doesn't care what she wants. Really?!? I found that very disappointing for a number of reasons. You get the idea.
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