Title: Sandman Slim
Author: Richard Kadrey
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5
When James Stark was sent to Hell, he figured he’d never see the world again. So he made a deal: he would fight for one of the fallen angels in exchange for the protection of his girlfriend, who was still alive. But now, 10 years later, he’s back in the world of the living and set on avenging his girlfriend’s murder. But Stark gets caught up in a larger plot, as something is brewing in the city of Los Angeles, and he must figure out whose side he’s on once and for all.
Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim jumpstarts an exciting urban fantasy series, with an antihero who readers can’t help but root for.
If you read my reviews regularly, you know I’m a huge fan of The Dresden Files, Jim Butcher’s series featuring Chicago wizard Harry Dresden. I love the gritty urban fantasy of those novels, so when someone described Sandman Slim as “a jacked up Harry Dresden,” I was immediately intrigued. And that description is fully accurate, as I came to see. This novel is exciting, crazy, and adrenaline pumping from beginning to end.
James Stark is not really a nice guy in Sandman Slim. He’s spent the past 10 years doing the work of the devil—literally. One thing Stark knows how to do very well is see the gray areas in a world where he’s caught between black and white. He has his own way of doing things, but you come to discover that Stark does indeed have a moral code. He’s an antihero to be sure, but one you’ll root for, as he tries to make sense of this world he left behind long ago.
The world building in Sandman Slim is solid; Kadrey does a great job laying the foundations out without saddling the narrative with unnecessary details and descriptions. It’s clear that there’s a lot more to learn, though; Kadrey doesn’t ever give too much away. The story is absolutely exciting, as the stakes just keep getting higher and the tension keeps building. It can feel a little jerky, as sometimes events seem to stumble together sideways, but that doesn’t change the fact that this novel is just a lot of fun.
As a standalone novel, Sandman Slim is good. As the beginning of a series? It’s really great. There’s so much potential here with Stark and his abilities, a lot of which we haven’t even really seen in full force yet, and the world Kadrey’s created has amazing nooks and crannies to explore. There are five books out in the series now, and I am eagerly looking forward to all of them, as I’m so glad I was introduced to this fun, escapist urban fantasy series.