By Richard Kadrey
Because I had made the commitment to review Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey, I waded through nearly 400 pages, even though I did stop several times thinking I wouldn’t go on. I guess I had just a tiny bit of curiosity of how it would end and there was just a touch of redemption at the very end, but not much...
Sometime in the middle of the book, somebody calls James Stark, the main character, Sandman Slim...thereafter a few other people do the same; however, the main character, Stark, has no idea why or when he supposedly got this name—guess somebody couldn’t come up with a title?
In any event, Stark is a magician. Others would call him a Wizard, but in this book, he calls himself a magician. He and his so-called magician friends were together when Stark was 19 and one of the other magicians, I gather with some assistance or just no resistance in support of Stark, sent him to Hell. Nice friends, huh?
For 11 years Stark lives in Hell where he is a novelty—a live human living amongst the Hellions. So they promptly make him their whipping boy and used him to hold spectator fights. Sound familiar from history? Only of course, the human fights monsters. And he does it well, for he discovers that he apparently can’t be killed. The reason for this skill is thrown in near the end of the book.
Stark is owned by one of the leaders of Hell and he realizes that there are a number of objects owned by this Hellion that might be able to get him out. He kills and steals to obtain a knife, an 8-ball question artifact with a fancy name and the only thing I found interesting—a key of 13 doors, which he implanted into his body and which can be used to move from one place to another, if there is a shadow around. Otherwise, taxis or stealing cars is how he gets around once back on earth.
His goal: to kill the magicians that placed him in Hell. Not necessarily because they sent him to Hell, but because they also killed the girl he had loved when he was 19. Along the way in between his killing, he does help a few human or inhuman individuals. Even Homeland Security receives his assistance, but not their angel leader.
Coincidentally, when I read this book, I had already read four books of The Guardian Series by Ruby-Moon Houldson, which has similar basic concepts and characters. Perhaps reading that great series was too much of a difference, but I do try to look objectively at each book and try to evaluate it for its own merit...
Admittedly Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey was written to be “amusing” according to a quote on the front cover. I might have smiled once. The book had little to offer in plot, a few new and different weapons, but still had lots and lots of guns, knives, and whatever else can be used to kill. If talking and living with a head with no body sounds like your speed, then go for it.
Sorry, would never consider recommending this to anyone I know...
G. A. Bixler