Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review. I wasn’t given any other inducements, but fortunately, the book is an inducement all on its own.
Huntley-James writes with verve: from the first page, the reader is swept along by the energy of the writing; it flows and it bubbles – a bit like white-water rafting, but less damp.
The main character, Paul Moore, is a broker of demon contracts; this is definitely Dark Arts, and Paul is pretty much an anti-hero. Along with Paul, there is a host of other ‘interesting’ characters – the other demon-summoners in the town (how many practitioners of the Dark Arts can one small English town hold? A lot, apparently); Paul’s employees, Stacey (skinny [or not] and goth [or not]) and Billy (a man with hidden depths). Many of the characters are a bit wacky, but they all have that spark of life – they feel alive, not just constructs the author put together because he needed a character to do a certain thing. And like living people, they often do unexpected things, or turn out not to be quite who you thought they were.
Then, of course, there is the lovely Simone, witch, who has her own plans, which may or may not include Paul, living or dead.
The action starts immediately, and it doesn’t let up. At all. Several times, I caught myself thinking “in any other book, this would be the final action sequence”; not so here. Things explode (sometimes), catch fire (frequently), run out of control (occasionally) or get stolen (nearly all the time). People die (or not) in a variety of interesting ways; Huntley-James is not afraid to kill off his characters.
I burned through this in two sittings, but that was only because I have to sleep at some point. It was fun.
If I were to do the ‘what other books is this book like’, I’d say, Sandman Slim or Dead Things rather than Storm Front. However, it’s lighter (despite all the death and destruction) than either of those – distinctly reminiscent of the The Stainless Steel Rat (and Simone reminds me a lot of Angelina, the beautiful super-criminal who steals Slippery Jim diGriz’ heart… and other things).
Glad I read it – and I’ll be looking out for the sequel. 🙂