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REVIEW: Dead Man Rising by Lilith Saintcrow

This letter contains a spoiler for Working for the Devil

Dear Ms. Saintcrow,

Dead Man RisingYour first book in the series, Working for the Devil, received a lot of online acclaim. I picked it up but was disappointed. The first book and the second is full of weird, made up names that alternately confused me and made me giggle. North New York Jersey? Giggle. Some of the terms were defined in a circular manner ie. “Republic of Gilead” was defined by terms “Old Merican” “Novo Christer” and “Seventy Days War”. “Seventy Days War” was defined by “the end of the Republic of Gilead”. Oh, and Korea must have fell into the ocean because it was not included in either one of the two superpowers? Confused. There are also a number of terms that are used that are not defined. Once you used a proper noun, Faraday cage, and just assumed the reader would understand that reference. I am not sure what Faraday is or what it means. There were a number of terms that you used that had no precise meaning.

Even though I had read the first book, I still needed to refer to the 4 page glossary. Every time that I have to refer to the glossary is an instance where the momentum of the story is broken and I felt disengaged from the story. I don’t particularly like books wherein I need an additional study guide to read it. I am still stuck on the fact you call her a “necromance” instead of a “necromancer”. There was no explanation of why Hell, a religious construct, existed in the pagan setting of your book.

Dante Valentine is a magical “necromance” and bounty hunter whose last job was for Lucifer. The job left her with a dead lover and an increase in powers. Dante still mourns the loss of Japhrimel, but finds herself leaning heavily on a human partner by the name of Jace. (my suggestion would be not to name all of her lovers beginning with “J”. There are 25 other letters in the alphabet.) She is called in to search killings of Psychics that have a connection to Rigger Hall. Rigger Hall holds some terrible memories for Dante but the job also gives her a chance for redemption.

The storyline in this book is good, it just didn’t work for me, primarily because of the narration and the narrator. The narration was awkward.

My breath came harsher. My voice was a dry-husky at it had been right after the Prince of Hell had tried to strangle me.

I took another deep inhale

This story, along with the last one, rests upon the shoulders of Dante. Compounding the worldbuilding issues I had was the fact that Dante is not a very likeable character. It didn’t appear that Dante had grown from her character in the first book. She is still quite prickly and is often at loggerheads with those around her. I am always waiting for her next rude and insensitive comment that inevitably creates hurt feelings. As one character queries:

Why must even an apology be a battle with you?

It’s difficult to present a tough as nails heroine but even the most alpha of characters need to give at times.

Further, as an author, you delight in making the worst things happen to Dante but in a repetitive, manipulative sort of way. I can’t imagine the conflict that you created in this story would be one even fans of the series would tolerate in a subsequent book. Surely there is some other way for Dante to be challenged.

There are strong emotional moments in the book as well as a compelling storyline; but the complicated world building, the repeated trips to the glossary combined with the lack of a meaningful relationship in Dante’s life makes this book stumble. I did notice that there may be a greater chance for a relationship for Dante in the future, but the excerpt shows a classic Dante Valentine behavior in which she lashes out at someone close to her. I can’t help but hope that she would grow out of that behavior, someday. C- for the book. Angie W loved it.

Best regards,

Jane

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

10 Comments

  1. Nicole
    Aug 22, 2006 @ 18:39:16

    I loved it too. Never felt the need to read the glossary and forgot that there even was one.

    a Faraday cage is designed to protect things from electrical nastiness. It crops up all over the place. Mythbusters have even made one on their show. Faraday is a proper noun because it’s named after a guy named Faraday who invented it. It would have bugged me if she’d actually explained it in the text.

    But funny how the elements of the worldbuilding that I liked (just hinting at previous things instead of outright explanation) were ones that drove you nuts.

    But, I guess what one person (or two, since Angie did too) loves, another dislikes.

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  2. Jane
    Aug 22, 2006 @ 20:47:44

    Nicole, I thought you liked the book but I went to your website and couldn’t find the post. I had no idea that a Farraday cage was a real thing! lol. It just goes to show how ignorant I am. I tend to think I’ll be in the minority re: Saintcrow, but I did have a tough time getting into her world.

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  3. Nicole
    Aug 22, 2006 @ 21:02:08

    Probably because it was way back in June that I read the book.

    Here’s the post.

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  4. Keishon
    Aug 22, 2006 @ 22:47:57

    I disliked the first book, couldn’t even finish it. Love the covers, tho. I found the narration awkward and the heroine—didn’t care for her. However, her books are very popular. Guess I stand alone in thinking that her books are rather a chore to read. To each his own.

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  5. Jane
    Aug 22, 2006 @ 22:51:35

    You and I, Keishon, will stand together. It’s kind of how I feel we are standing in regards to New Moon. ;)

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  6. May
    Aug 23, 2006 @ 08:35:25

    Jane, it’s Dead Man Rising.

    I’ve not read it myself, so I’m not reading the review, but I loved the first book.

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  7. Jane
    Aug 23, 2006 @ 10:01:46

    [quote comment="3403"]Jane, it’s Dead Man Rising.[/quote]

    Hmm. Me make a mistake with the title or author?? I get stuff stuck in my head and it just won’t go away. Like the fact that Sascha Duncan became Serena Duncan as I read the book. Or maybe it was a subconscious attempt to obfuscate the review so no Saintcrow fans would come by and beat me to a pulp. ;)

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  8. May
    Aug 23, 2006 @ 10:04:51

    Too late, Jane.

    I’m a moderator on Lili’s board, and guess what I just told them?

    (I’m kidding!)

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  9. Jane
    Aug 23, 2006 @ 10:31:34

    Send them over. There are never enough people who come and say, Jane, you ignorant slut. . . .

    ReplyReply

  10. readerdiane
    Aug 26, 2006 @ 16:15:27

    I’ve been called suicidal, and crazy, and fey; I’ve even been called glory-hungry and snobbish. I don’t think that’s accurate; I simply always knew I would survive, a core of something hard and nasty in me refusing to give in even at the worst of times. Better to face what frightens you than to live cowering in fear; and if Death frightened me I need only go further into the blue glow of His embrace until even fear was lost and the weight lifted from me.

    I think that the above quote shows that Danny has grown from the first book because she had a hard time admitting her faults in the first one. She is a character who grows on you as you peel back her layers. I don’t think we should take her at first glance, she has had too many losses to be a likable person. I have to give her credit for standing by her friends, and I hope we see more of them in the future. She has honor and loyalty.

    I am not sure that I would call this book a romance-it is more of the horror genre and as such requires a lot of world building. I did find myself checking the back of the book for definitions, but that is something I do when I am trying to figure out a new world-horror or sci-fi.

    I liked this book even better than the first one. I am eager to see what happens next, which indicates to me that I was satisfied with the book.

    ReplyReply

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