Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Demon Squad: Exit Wounds review

    The Demon Squad series by Tim Marquitz is a series following the adventures of the Devil's Nephew (later revealed to be his son), Frank Trigg. Set in a world which God and the Devil have abandoned to fight an extra-dimensional war against beings similar to H.P. Lovecraft's Great Old Ones.

    The Best of Enemies dealt with Frank and his lover Kara breaking up upon the death of the latter's father at the former's hands. Exiled to God's prison dimension at the end, Frank lost not only rulership of Hell but his body to long-time enemy Azrael. This installment follows Frank, Kara, and several other long-running characters trying to escape said dimension before Azrael lays waste to Earth with his newly-acquired Antichrist powers. There's a lot of complex issues related to previous episodes here and, as you might guess, this isn't the book to jump on the series. Still, it's very enjoyable and is a wonderful treat for existing fans.

    Exit Wounds is more of a fantasy novel than an urban fantasy, taking place on an Edgar Rice Burroughs-esque world inhabited by a race of green-skinned tribals, dragons, and the most infamous betrayers of history. For some individuals, this may be off-putting but long-term fans will note that Demon Squad is an experimental series which takes a lot of risks. Not many urban fantasy series can they take place on another world with angels, demons, an Apostle, the Anti-Christ, another Anti-Christ's daughter, a zombie head, the head of the government task-force against the supernatural, two aliens, and a few other characters I've not even mentioning.

    Much of the book deals with Frank being forced into a situation where he has to work with both friends he's alienated as well as antagonists who want to get out of the prison-dimension every bit as much as he does. While unlikely alliances are nothing new in the series, indeed, it half-seems that everyone hates everyone else most times, Exit Wounds handles the complex network of relationships in Frank's group quite well. Everyone has an agenda they pursue and I was never confused as to who wanted what, why, and through what means.

    The prison dimension isn't developed, perhaps, as well as it should be but there's enough there to get the point across. Its existence is one of the big clues in the series that God, rather than being a benevolent figure, is meant to be an ultimately evil one. Abandoning all of his unwanted creations there can be excused but their descendants? People who did nothing to deserve being incarcerated there forever? That's just cruel. It is, however, a great excuse for potentially unleashing all manner of nasties for Frank to deal with in future volumes.

    The book contains numerous flashbacks to angel Scarlett's interactions with Azrael while he's wearing her cousin's form. I've always been a big fan of Scarlett so I'm pleased she has a large role in this story. I was stunned and saddened to find out Scarlett isn't as loyal to Frank as he is to her, the young angel struggling with the fact she would have a much-much easier life if our (anti)hero was just evil and could be slain. The fact she tries to work through those feelings, though, is one of the best parts of the book.

    The villain, Azrael, is one I'm glad Tim Marquitz resurrected for this volume. The Angel of Death is one of the few villains who is capable of surviving Frank's usually permanent vengeance and is evil enough to warrant nothing but scorn from even as ruthless an antihero as our protagonist can sometimes be. Azrael isn't a villain with much depth, sadly, due to the fact he's, well, an omnicdal maniac who wants to be God, but he's always entertaining. How he's dealt with is unlikely to be permanent (due to the fact he's truly immortal) and I hope we see him in future volumes.

    In conclusion, Exit Wounds is yet another fine addition to what is already an excellent series. It's not my favorite of the books due to the fact I prefer Frank on Earth dealing with more down-to-Earth problems but it's a fun-enough installment. I also am pleased with the way the series wraps up Kara and Frank.


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