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Thursday, August 15, 2013

From Hell: A Demon Squad Novella by Tim Marquitz (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Author website
Order the novella HERE 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Armageddon Bound
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Resurrection 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of At The Gates and Betrayal
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Echoes Of The Past 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Beyond The Veil
Read Fantasy Book Critic interview with Tim Marquitz 

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Tim Marquitz is the author of the Demon Squad series, and the Sepulchral Earth serial stories. He is also an editor, a heavy metal aficionado, a Mixed Martial Arts fan, and is also a member of the Live Action Role Playing organization. When he’s not busy writing dark stories, which catch his imagination he also manages to go about his day job. Tim lives in El Paso, Texas with his wonderful family.

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: A rash of brutal murders set God and the Devil at odds, and it's up to Frank to prove Hell's innocence. With his angelic cousin watching his every move, he quickly learns there's more to the mission when he comes face to face with the legend of Jack the Ripper. Time running out, Frank and Scarlett must stop the killings and restore the balance of peace before it spirals out of control.

In a battle of wits to determine the fate of Heaven and Hell, it's a good thing Frank brought a gun.

From Hell is a standalone novella in the Demon Squad universe, and is a great introduction to the Demon Squad series outside of the main story line.

FORMAT/INFO: From Hell is 88 pages long divided over fourteen chapters. Narration is in the first-person, exclusively via the protagonist Frank “Triggaltheron” Trigg. This is a prequel standalone novella and can be read by new readers as well as series fans (without any worry about series spoilers).

August 4, 2013 marked the e-book publication of From Hell and it was self-published by the author. Cover art is provided by Carter Reid.

ANALYSIS: Some series have such a hold on you that you *have* to read every bit that the author writes about them. A few examples of such series for me are A Song Of Ice And Fire by George R.R. Martin, The Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews, the Drenai series by David Gemmell and lastly The Demon Squad series by Tim Marquitz. With Demon Squad we were introduced to lovable rogue Frank Trigg who would leer at your girlfriend while regaling you with salacious banter. He’s the kind of character that usually gets an early gruesome death courtesy of the protagonist in most fantasy stories. In Tim Marquitz’s universe, we get to see how the world seems to be from such a person’s point of view.

Since I met Frank in Armageddon Bound, I’ve counted myself as a Frankophile and have eagerly devoured each and every story (both long and short) that featured him or was set in the world featuring him. Last time around in Beyond The Veil, certain events and a huge amount of unveiled secrets have left Frank and the reader with a lot to ponder. However with this prequel standalone novella, Tim gives us a chance to view Frank in his good old days when he was the Anti-Christ in training. Cue Frank in hell and having a good time or as much as a good time as can be expected in Lucifer’s domain.

When the story opens, Baalth is training Frank for a fight that he has no control over and after the umpteenth disappointing finish, gets tasked by his uncle to go to Earth to resolve a situation. Frank’s initial joy turns a bit sour when finds himself in London, circa 1888 and is forced to resolve the Jack the Ripper murders. He finds that Hell isn’t the only party interested in unmasking Jack as his cousin Scarlett is sent as the angelic counterpart to his investigations. Backed into a corner, Frank will have to rein his perverted thoughts and focus on finding who is behind the infamous letter which begins by saying “From hell…”

As is the case with previous books, From Hell while focusing on a dark subject, takes a rather dark comedic path as Frank narrates the story. We get his usual banter on the state of things, uncle Lucifer, Scarlett and her vivacious ways and lastly how he stumbles from the fire into the frying pan. Readers acquainted with the previous books will find a delicious mix of the same but with a tiny difference, Frank isn’t the hardened wiseass we have met in the previous Demon Squad books and that’s because he still has his powers with Lucifer’s backing. While that might save him from bigger hurdles, watching him trip over smaller stuff is still hilarious. With this novella, the author explores the demon squad universe in a different time period and I enjoyed this past romp of Frank a lot.

Beginning with the humor, as usual we get a nice stream of thoughts and one-liners that would keep you in splits but also we get a tightly paced plot that moves towards a conclusion rather strongly. There aren’t too many plot twists in this story but the main one if you don’t guess it, will liven up your read. I enjoyed Tim’s take on the Ripper’s identity and his reasoning for the stoppage of the murders. Lastly there’s even a small thread left open for Frank’s further adventures out in the old west that frankly sounds like a bunch of fun.

Drawbacks to this novella are simply that if you didn’t like the previous books then this novella might not change your stance. Also if you are easily offended by salacious humor then I would pray you never venture into the demon squad universe. Besides the afore-mentioned reasons I couldn’t find any other thing to nitpick about this story.

CONCLUSION: Frank returns in a prequel story and it is a gory yet fun one. You will want to read this novella if you have been on the fence for trying out a new, unknown series. From Hell is a great introduction to the Frank and his world. Be prepared though it’s unlike any other urban fantasy that you have read so far. Frank Trigg isn’t a Harry Dresden or Atticus Sullivan clone, he’s his own man and the rest of the world needs to find that out.

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