Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on ME Patterson's blog tour for Devil's Hand, hosted by Pump Up Your Book! If you're new to the site, welcome! We hope you'll take a look around and see what else we have to offer. To learn more about ME Patterson, you can visit his website here or say hi to him on Twitter at @mepatterson. He's a fellow Austinite, so you know he's got to be awesome.
Now on to the review!
Digimonkey Studios (2011)
Thriller / Angels
I am going to do my very best to review ME Patterson’s Devil’s Hand with a minimum of references to Supernatural. While there were many things about this book that reminded me of my favorite show, it really stands on its own merits as an intriguing and inventive adventure that just so happens to have a bunch of angels and demons running around causing havoc.
Trent is the luckiest man alive. He was the sole survivor of a plane crash and, after his recovery, spent a lot of time in Las Vegas casinos, racking up win after win. Eventually the casino bosses decided he must be cheating and ran him out of town. Devil’s Hand opens with him and his wife Susan returning to Vegas for her to take a nursing job. On their way into town, they’re run off the road by softball sized hail that turns into a rainstorm of fish. Most people would take that as a sign to turn around and go back from where they came from, but Susan and Trent continue on to Vegas where their paths cross with a thirteen-year-old girl, Celia, who is allergic to water. Crazy ensues. Blood is shed. A massive blizzard covers the City of Sin. Epic warfare waits on the horizon.
Trent is your standard fallen hero, except midway through the book you suddenly realize he’s turned into an awesome badass. As the unofficial guardian of the weird teenage girl who is being chased after by the big bad, he’s dropped into the middle of all the crazy and he rises to the occasion. Trent starts off as an unemployable, pathetic mess, who loves his wife but doesn’t have much else going for him. The change into a hero is subtle and happens naturally without any big blinking arrows pointing at him, saying “HE’S A HERO NOW!” A giant shadow monster begins chasing him, two giant blonde guys keep showing up to threaten him, and then of course, there’s the weird teenage girl who seems to have magical powers over the ice and snow. Yet through it all, he manages to keep a mostly level head and to take everything in as it happens without falling apart, including a high stakes poker game with a table full of demons.
To be honest, by the time I reached the demon poker game, I got a very American Gods feel to the entire thing. Trent was a very similar hero figure to Shadow, making similar sacrifices, discovering similar supernatural qualities in the world at large, and fighting something much bigger than him. Having chatty angels and demons around, most of who were not clearly defined as good or evil, added to the feel. Don’t get me wrong – a comparison to American Gods coming from me is a huge compliment – Devil’s Hand is very much its own story; it just had a similar feel to it with two very different worlds colliding and causing chaos in the life of a seemingly ordinary man.
The big bad is housed in the body of an old homeless man named Salvatore, who doesn’t realize he’s possessed by evil. When the bad guy, a fallen angel, comes out to play, he’s after all of his children – seemingly mortal kids that might have special powers. He’s a menacing character, but he’s most interesting in the way he affects Celia after initially coming into contact with her. Despite being a devastated thirteen-year-old, she is strong, mysterious and the most interesting of all the characters. Her background remains a little fuzzy and a little bit of handwaving seems to happen to explain what she’s capable of, but it doesn’t matter – Celia is pretty awesome and the type of adolescent character I like reading.
While there’s a lot of mythology within the angelic culture of Devil’s Hand, I wasn’t always entirely clear on where the lines were drawn, who was on what side and what they hoped to gain. It didn’t take much away from the story except for my occasional wondering of why so many were on the side of the big bad when the characters one would expect to be bad were actually helping the good guys. With different factions of angels and fallen angels, I might have run through the political explanation of the situation faster than I should have to fully understand the sides of the war. I could have also been muddled by the cross pollination of ideas from… wait, no Supernatural references. My head is a jumble of angel mythology from different sources. Other readers might find the background easier to pick up and keep straight.
I should know by now to go into any book assuming it’s the beginning of a series, but once again, I didn’t have that mindset while reading Devil’s Hand until I reached the last few pages. At that point I realized something even bigger was being set up and a couple of toss away lines from earlier in the book that were pretty obvious foreshadowing might not be resolved until further in the series. Despite this, I feel the ending tied up all the important things and only set up the basic premise of any future novels. It didn’t feel like the story just stopped.
Much of the awesome in this story would be considered spoilers – character qualities that are revealed deep into the book, events that take place that made me bounce nearly off my chair – but trust me, this is an exciting book for anyone looking for angels with a bit (or a lot) of fight in them, monsters hiding in the darkness, ordinary humans becoming awesome and creepiness all around. ME Patterson balances metaphor with plenty of action, and keeps the pace flowing even at slower moments in the story. He’s a well-balanced storyteller and Devil’s Hand really flourishes because of it.
This is an adult book, of course. Heads are smashed in, bullets go flying and there are seriously creepy monsters wandering around, trying to eat people. If anyone is looking for a thriller involving angels, this is your book.
Great characters with interesting qualities and internal conflicts; complex back story that could be a little confusing; fast paced and full of twists and turns
A copy of this book was provided by the author and Pump Up Your Book blog tours in return for an honest review.