When the Devil needs a rogue demon killed, who does he call?
The Player: Necromance-for-hire Dante Valentine is choosy about her jobs. Hot tempered and with nerves of steel, she can raise the dead like nobody’s business. But one rainy Monday morning, everything goes straight to hell.
The Score: The Devil hires Dante to eliminate a rogue demon: Vardimal Santino. In return, he will let her live. It’s an offer she can’t refuse.
The Catch: How do you kill something that can’t die?
“I wasn’t focusing on my surroundings. I was too busy grousing to myself over being stuck with a demon. It was unprofessional of me-but more important, it could get me killed.”
Working for the Devil was a great start to the Dante Valentine series. This introduces an amazingly complex world with some very dark features. It is a dark world, with harsh consequences. The story is a classical revenge story with more on top. It has interesting and unusual characters. I just really enjoyed reading this.
The world is one of the most interesting parts to the story. It is our world, and it also isn’t. It is sort of set in the near-ish future. There is a lot of more advanced technology than we have. It also has a recently dark past that is explored quite well through the series, but only on the surface as of this book. The recent history is interesting because of the psychics, who weren’t nearly as advanced as they are now. Also, they were practically enslaved, considered property until recently. Bad things were happening to them, and no one really cared. Even now, they don’t have full rights. Further, the mobs seems to rule the world, which is even more interconnected than it is now. It is all very interesting.
The main character, Dante Valentine, has no ability to really relate to other people. After a mysteriously awful childhood, the death of one of her only friends, and a boyfriend who left her without telling her he was leaving, the little Dante had inside her to care about other people basically vanished. She just cannot interact with them. She thinks threatening and yelling at people is affection. And Dante does that to everyone, though only certain special people get the full brunt of it. It is pretty terrible. She is just bitchy and treats everyone like shit, which everyone around her just puts up with. I empathise with Dante, but I can’t really stand her.
Dante also has an amazing ability to ignore everything she doesn’t want to deal with. Unless she wants to do it, unless she wants to deal with it, Dante just ignores it. This includes some of the more unappetising characteristics she has. It includes danger to herself: if she doesn’t want to believe it is there, she’ll ignore it until it rises up to bite her in the face.
Despite my problems with Dante as a person, she is really well written. It is very consistent and believable. The same can be said of the story. Dante is being called on by Lucifer kill a demon, Vardimal, and collect something from him. A demon that Lucifer cannot kill himself. Vardimal Santino is incapable of being killed “by demon nor man”, so Lucifer believes Dante, being neither demon nor man, is capable of sliding under the protections of Vardimal. Only that isn’t the whole story, something isn’t being told. Something dark. Something that would prevent Dante from wanting to take the job.
But Dante already wanted Vardimal. Dante wants revenge on him for killing her best friend and lover. To say she holds a grudge is underselling it by a lot. Vardimal didn’t just kill Doreen. He killed her and eviscerated her and would have done more if he wasn’t interrupted. Dante isn’t someone who loves easily, and this was a defining moment in her life. Despite every misgiving she has, including the fact that she stands no hope of actually killing Vardimal, Dante is determined to go after him.
Lucifer isn’t heartless, though. Plus, he kind of really wants the job done. So he sends with Dante a demon familiar, Japhrimel. Japhrimel is the obvious love interest, and the book is filled with long looks and those two growing closer. I like him as a character. He is not human, he has never been human, he will never be human. He shows that he isn’t in the most subtle of ways, yet he has a small sense of humor. He is frustrating, but that is on me, because I want him to be more human. Yet I applaud Lilith Saintcrow for making him nonhuman and sticking to it, because not a lot of authors do this.
Also on the journey is an ex-boyfriend, Jace, who left her and now wants Dante back in his life now that he is “free” from the mob, which Dante hates with a passion only rivaled by the lead drug of the series. This leads to some fantastic reactions between the two, as Dante kind of hates him right now. There is also Gabe, who is a friend, cop, and fellow necromance like Dante, and her sort of boyfriend Eddie, who is there for Gabe. Dante is jealous of their relationship, and they serve to make you know that Dante is lonely. The side characters really add a lot to the story.
The story is good, but kind of standard. Most of what makes this unique is the setting and the way the supernatural world is set up. Then comes the end. That end comes up and just wallops you good. Not many would take the route Lilith Saintcrow does. The end is enough on its own to make me want to go immediately to the next book in the series, even if the rest of the story didn’t already make me want to do that. It is just so utterly powerful, so devastating, so unexpected. I enjoyed the hell out of it.
To read more reviews for this series, check out the Dante Valentine series page!