Okay, it took me a while to get to this one…but boy am I glad I did!
You guys know, because I’ve blogged about it before, that I’ve grown rather weary of “sassy” first-person female voices in urban fantasy. So, although I was excited to read this one, I was apprehensive as well.
Thankfully, any similarity between Jezebel (the heroine) and any of the other hundreds of first-person heroines in UF these days ends with the letter I. Jezebel is not sassy, not by a long shot. She’s witty. She’d devious. She’s crisp and funny and sharp, and this book is a hell of a lot of fun.
Remember fun? Jackie Kessler does, and she’s provided it in spades. I actually laughed out loud when reading it, more than once, and when I wasn’t laughing I was being blown away by the sheer cleverness and the voice as sharp as gin-cracked ice. Lines like (in referring to a group of strippers) “…some of these gals scored so deeply with their barbed words that the floor should have been tacky with their blood”–among many others–made me demon-green with envy.
In a nutshell, succubus Jezebel runs away from Hell when Lucifer makes A Big Announcement. The Announcement is a source of mystery for most of the book, so I won’t reveal it here, but suffice it to say it’s world-shattering enough for a succubus who obviously loves her work to give it all up. Now on the run and in danger if she’s found, she forces a witch to make her human and heads off to New York City, where she finds a job as–what else?–a stripper. The perfect job for a former creature of lust, with the added benefit of making good money. Jezebel’s human life is intercut through the story with tales of her pre-transformation days, shepherding the souls of the damned into Hell and having fun with an incubus named Duanuan, who is everything an incubus should be and more.
In fact, if I have one complaint with the book, it’s that the human love interest, Paul, simply pales in comparison with the wickedly sexy Duan. (And my other complaint, which is more like a worry, is that nobody’s going to want to read about my demons after they’ve gotten a hold of this one! :-)) Sure, Paul’s an appealing hero, but perhaps my personal prejudice comes in to play here as well–I’ve simply never been a fan of cop heroes, coming down firmly on the side of Bad Boys rather than good.
It’s a minor quibble, though, and the rest of the story, in all its witty, exciting glory, more than makes up for it. Jezebel’s switch from selfish succubus to slightly-less-selfish human, and the wistful longing to fit into human society that she hides from herself (but we clearly see), make her a thoroughly charming heroine, one I enjoyed spending time with a lot more than I thought I would.
There’s a second book, The Road to Hell, coming out in October. Meanwhile, grab a copy of Hell’s Belles here, and enjoy.
And, I have a new friend! Mark Henry has a book called “Happy Hour of the Damned” set for release in March of next year, and I am seriously pee-my-pants excited about it. It’s about zombies. And it sounds awesome. And he is like the coolest person ever, except for all of you. You’re all equally cool. So go check out his blog, and say hi, and trust me, one day we’ll all be saying we knew him when.