Tuesday, January 11, 2011
First Published: 2010
The Blurb: In 1707, hapless vampire Jack Bentley made a pact with the Devil in order to escape a vampire hunt. Dealing with Satan seemed better than your standard angry mob at the time. But three centuries later, Satan is ready to collect His dues, whether the vampire likes it or not. He's taking Jack down to Hell, and He's even got a job picked out for him down below: an eternal position at the Registration Office of the Damned.
Jack attempts to adjust to life on the Administrative Level of Hell where fire and brimstone have been replaced by board meetings and the occasional broken copier. But the whiny complaints of the recently-deceased are the least of his problems. Try adding to the equation a dead ex-lover, a dangerous attraction to his high-ranking demon companion, Alexander Ridner, and the sticky and distorted anti-vampire politics of a Hell that is surprisingly like our own world.
The Review: Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from this as I sat down to read it. I thought it might be an urban fantasy type book, despite the blurb, that are two-a-penny nowadays, but instead I found myself reading a very original, witty comedy that rushed along apace due to the crisp, refreshing prose style.
The book concerns – as the blurb indicates – Jack Bentley and he is not you’re a-standard suave vampire. As we meet him he is in another retail post and rather than sucking on the necks of young maidens he drinks the bottled stuff at a vampire bar called Bela’s.
Jack sold his soul to survive a vampire hunt, managed to lose track of his lover during the event and was given three more centuries of undeath by Satan. That time is up. Though he considers running his bright idea of a hiding spot is on a co-workers futon. When he reaches Hell he discovers that he has been given a job, specifically he is one of the registration clerks for the newly deceased. Essentially, Jack’s Hell is working in the civil service.
This is a Hell were the demons have been encouraged to indulge in politics (and an election is on-going) and the parties are split into progressives, who are pro-rights for non-humans such as vampires, werewolves and goblins, and traditionalists who are rather anti the non-humans.
Whilst Jack's vampire nature gives us the background for the plot, there isn’t anything overtly vampiric within the book and this matter of fact approach was rather refreshing. Rather than rely on genre tropes, Jack was a fantastically drawn character (as was the demon Alex) and the character strength was the hook for the book. The novel is the first of a trilogy but it reads well as a standalone also, genuinely funny, with brief appearances by both God and Satan, this is one to look out for. 7.5 out of 10
Jennifer Rainey’s homepage is here.