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To Hell And Back (A Dante Valentine Novel) by Lilith SaintCrow

01/05/2009. Contributed by Eamonn Murphy

Buy To Hell And Back in the USA - or Buy To Hell And Back in the UK

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pub: Orbit. 389 page paperback. Price: 6.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-669-6.

At the end of 'Saint City Sinners', the fourth book in this quintet, Dante Valentine went to Hell. At the start of this one, she is dumped back on Earth about six months later, in rags, bloody and traumatised. Time in Hell is not the same as time here but Lucifer had made it hard time however long it was.

Naturally she is out for revenge.

Lucas Villalobos, a former colleague, quickly finds her and she is reunited with her demon lover, Japhrimel, Lucifer's eldest son and former chief assassin, now in rebellion for the love of Dante. They team up with Eve, who is shaped like a woman but is really another demon in rebellion against Lucifer. Eve is Japhrimel's enemy and has convinced Dante that she is her 'daughter', carrying some of her genes and also the child of an old friend.

Dante has made it clear to Japhrimel that if it comes to the crunch she will defend Eve against him and doesn't really trust him, despite the fact that he has saved her life umpteen times in the past four books. She doesn't much like the rest of his team neither and the one she did like turns out to be working for Eve. Uneasily allied this happy band scheme to get a magic knife which can kill the Prince of Hell.



As usual in these books, the fantastic stuff is convincingly put over and a future world full of psions, magi, demons and so forth is well delineated. As usual, I remain unconvinced that anyone could love Dante, let alone a cunning old devil, but romance is a peculiar thing and beauty is in the green glowing eye of the beholder.

Unusually, perhaps because there is a lot of plot to get through, the author restrains herself from tedious description of clicking boot heels and black nail varnish. Dante's new tic is rolling her shoulders to settle a new weapons harness in place but it is not over-done and her internal soliloquy is also more restrained than of yore. This is a great blessing and made the book a faster read and a better one.

The ending is mostly predictable but there is an interesting little twist. In an afterword on the series, Lilith Saintcrow tells us what fun it's been and admits that Dante is not entirely loveable. I'm glad she agrees with me.

Eamonn Murphy

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