Saturday, October 13, 2012

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: Dante Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow

Dante Valentine series
Lilith Saintcrow

Individual Books
Working for the Devil
Dead Man Rising
The Devil's Right Hand
Saint City Sinners
To Hell and Back


Necromancer. Bounty hunter. Killer.
Dante Valentine has been all three in her life. But in the beginning, she was a Necromancer for hire. And while she was choosy about her jobs, there were just some she couldn't turn down. Like when the Devil showed up at the door and offered her a deal. Her life - in exchange for the capture and elimination of a renegade demon. But how do you kill something that can't die?



Rosy's scrawlings on the Dante Valentine series
For this recommendation I'm doing something rather odd for a reviewer/recommender or whatever you'd like to call me at this stage. And that is: I'm going to recommend, deeply recommend, you read a series that I will never pick up again even if you hold a gun to my head. The reason for my avoidance of ever reading this series again has absolutely nothing to do with the author's skills and the quality of the books. Not a thing. Instead, the reason for my avoiding it is entirely because the series is too good and forces me to remember things I'd much rather not, thank you very much. This means though, that for me this series is a tad more horrific than it is likely to be to you (unless you have similar memories and emotions floating about - see warning). It also means that the series is exceptional and a must read.
While I'm at the intro bit, I'd like to share a personal grumble I have every time I see this series on the shelves. For some reason, completely incomprehensible to me, this series is often shelved under romance or to be precise, paranormal romance. Why? Who on earth thinks this story is romantic? Read it and tell me I'm wrong. I bet there are very, very few of you who'll see Dante and Japhrimel's relationship as vaguely romantic. It has to be one of the most dysfunctional and horrific relationships I've ever read of and all it leaves me with is a deep feeling of gratitude that such a relationship never happened to me. I honestly don't know whether I could have stood it. Dante definitely can't.
So, to me and probably many of you once you've given it a whirl, this book is horror. The relationship is quite like those of the quarrelling husband and wife going to the isolated cabin in the woods. Nothing works well and the distrust and violence escalates. It screams horror from beginning to end, with only a vague glimpse of possibility at their initial meeting. One that's immediately squashed by circumstances called life and Lucifer. And things, as expected of a horror story, quickly spiral out of control in a rather irrevocable way. Perspectives are changes, life values smashed, trust ruined, blood spilled, suicidal behaviour frequent, control lost, battles around every corner, personalities shattered, minds destroyed and so on and so forth. It is a never-ending flow into darkness for Dante and you see it all from her perspective. What happens to your mind when you're tortured by Lucifer? Well, read and find out what's likely to happen. Can you trust an intelligent and powerful being that isn't human? I'd say it would be pretty difficult at the best of times and these aren't the best. The story is dark and becomes increasingly hollow, which is the exact opposite of a romance where things start out bleak and love blooms so the world becomes colourful.
So I recommend this series to you because this is some powerful horror and well worth reading.
All this leaves me with a quandary. I have been collecting the Jill Kismet series as Lilith Saintcrow's work is outstanding. But I've also avoided picking up any further works of hers and actually reading them as I'm in a once burned, twice shy situation. So, if you're reading this and you're read the Dante Valentine and the Jill Kismet series, can you answer me this? Does Jill have the same sort of fate as Dante and do I have good reason to be wary?

I'd recommend this to: Anyone at the right reading level but those who love horror in particular. I'd also go the extra mile of convincing the romantically wary that this book is incorrectly shelved most of the time, as it is by no means a romance of any sort, and should be shelved as straight, god-awful (meaning great) horror.

I'd warn: people who've lost a lot and have felt that their life was very out of control. This isn't a don't read it warning but rather a be prepared one. I wasn't. It was a tad awful to have the memories of certain times in my life scratched open again.

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