REVIEW: Dead Man Rising by Lilith Saintcrow
This letter contains a spoiler for Working for the Devil
Dear Ms. Saintcrow,
Your 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.