Wednesday, 15 October 2008

The Road to Hell - Jackie Kessler

WARNING - this review contains spoilers for Hell's Belles.

The Road to Hell by Jackie Kessler. Published November 2007

Darn it I thought TBR Wednesday was next week. I was being all clever and organized. :sigh: So apologies for any typos and YAY you get two reviews today instead of one.

Reason for this being in the TBR pile - I'm not sure really. It's just one of those books that never quite made it to the top of the pile.

The Road to Hell continues Jesse Harris's story begun in Hell's Belles (see review below). Although Jesse is no longer a succubus, she won the right to have a soul at the end of the previous book. Now mortal she is trying to enjoy the life she has with Paul, her boyfriend. Unfortunately Hell doesn't want to let her go that easily. And they're willing to use Paul's immortal soul to get her back.

I enjoyed this slightly more than Hell's Belles. Maybe I've settled into the characters more, but I really enjoyed Jesse's voice here, she's even more sarcastic, sardonic and wickedly witty than she was in the previous book. I'm sure her mental note count has increased.
Mental note: Finish planning the rescue before executing it.
This series is still being marketed as Parnormal Romance - so wrong. Jesse is a great heroine, one of my favourites in UF, but I just don't see her as PNR material, and I think this is why the book has so many problem reviews on Amazon. Jesse seduces a female angel (not her girlfriend), has sex with an incubus (not her boyfriend) and and the book starts with her doing a lap dance. Definitely not your typical PNR heroine, she's rude, crude and probably socially unacceptable - and I absolutely love her.

The beginning of the book is absolutely full of stuff that I want to quote here. I think I got to page 23 and realized I wanted to quote most of it because it was so funny. But I'll have to restrict myself.
"You can't claim me for Hell. My soul's clean." Benefit of being only thirty days old in mortal years: that's not a lot of time to wreak havoc.
I love that even when everything in her life is going down the toilet she can still pull out a fast one liner.

One of my favourite things about Jesse is that she doesn't try to be anything other than what she is. Though admittedly she is trying to do her best with the whole human having a soul thing. But even though she has all the tact of a brick in the face, she still manages to pick up friends and seduce angels.

If I had to sum up what The Road to Hell was for me - it's a kind of Urban Fantasy Orpheus and Eurydice tale but with demons, sex and a reversal of gender roles. The book is in two halves - the first part dealing with Hell doing its utmost to get Jesse back, and the second part as Jesse descends back into Hell having been left with no other choice but to return. It has to be said there are a lot less jokes in the second half of the book, but the stakes are a lot higher, so there's less to be witty about.

Even so Jesse proves to be handy with the smart comment
I pressed the staple gun against his mouth and pulled the trigger. SNIKT!...
"I warned you, you little fuck."
and the staple gun. Okay, maybe it's not the wittiest remark ever but it's direct and to the point.

The second half didn't work quite as well for me. Maybe because I'm not completely sure where the story is going, so I'm finding the whole Angels take over Hell thing a little bit difficult to get my head round. At the end it feels like Jesse's story is complete - if only for the moment. But the overall arc of what's happening between Heaven, Hell and Earth is still unresolved. I'm hoping we get more answers in Book 3 Hotter than Hell (Daun's story)which fingers crossed I'll get hold of soon. Amazon UK don't have it as available but I'm hoping that's a temporary problem.

Also available.
Book 1 - Hell's Belles (First part of Jesse's story)
Book 3 - Hotter than Hell (Daun's story)


DonnaB said...

I love the staple gun thing! I hadn't heard of these books before, so now I'm off to my paperback swap site where I have LOTS of credits. ;-)


Anonymous said...

I was interested in this series, but it sounded too similar to Richelle Mead's Georgina Kincaid series (which I do like, but I figured one succubus series was enough for me, LOL).

Have you read Mead's books (and if so, can you compare)?

LesleyW said...

Donna - make sure you get Hell's Belles which is Book 1 and read that first.

Li - I've read the first in Richelle Mead's succubus series. Is it Succubus Blues? I might have reviewed it, if not, it's one of the reviews waiting to post. I think if Georgina is a good girl succubus then Jesse is a bad, bad girl succubus. I think the two series are sufficiently different (even though they both have succubi for heroines) that you could read both.

Going from memory Georgina felt kind of uncomfortable (may be the wrong word) dressing up at the beginning of Succubus Blues. Whereas Jesse would have revelled in it.

Naomi said...

I think Jackie Kessler has one of the best voices in UF - sharp, vivid, and distinctive. I'm reading Hotter than Hell at the moment and Daun is just as funny and brilliantly bad as Jessie.

Carolyn Crane said...

Great review. And Lesley, that is a perfect description of the difference between this series and the Mead series. I haven't read this one yet. I really am most jonesing to read Daun's story. He was a great character, and those scenes with him in Hells Belles were hot!

LesleyW said...

Naomi - I'm jealous. I'm finding it hard to get hold of Hotter than Hell. For some reason Amazon UK has it as not available, but they've still got the first two books in the series. And I got Slaughterhouse 5 in the post this week, looking forward to reading it.

Carolyn Jean - Glad I got the differences between the two series okay. It's been a while since I read the Georgina Kincaid story so I was going by my very faulty memory.

LesleyW said...

Janicu - Thank you! I must post the icon in my side bar.

LOL - hope everyone's noticed I've been trying to be a bit more creative in my posting. Yes, I'm finally adding book covers and pictures to my blog.

Naomi said...

I actually ordered my copy via Aphrohead Books, Lesley, who you can find though Amazon. They're often a lot cheaper too.

LesleyW said...

Naomi - Thanks for the heads up, I've ordered from them before. I will definitely be getting a copy of Daun's book, probably when I come back from holiday now.

I don't understand why Amazon UK don't have it in stock when it's only just been released. Unless it's a case of the book being picked up by a UK publisher?