Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review: Two Steps from Hell by Scott Roche


Laurent may well be the only fairy in Hell. After all, when fairies die, they're simply supposed to cease existing. That didn't happen, and he'd been subjected to an eternity of torture. Until now. Someone has summoned Laurent using magic. Now, there's hope that he might be able to weasel his way into an existence on Earth rather than go back to that torture. However, there's a time limit to how long he can remain in the material plane. he can extend that if he can just figure out why he was summoned in the first place. That's difficult, since his first act after being summoned was lashing out and killing the man who summoned him. Now Laurent has to team up with the dead man's twin sister to find out why he's here. It's either solve an impossible mystery in an impossibly short time frame with a partner who has ever reason to hate him. No big deal for a fairy, right?

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from
Laurent, a faerie sorcerer, lived for centuries. When it ended, instead of drifting into oblivion he awoke in Hell. After countless years of indescribable torment, a half-faerie half-human conjurer summons him to 21st century New Orleans. Laurent now has twenty-four hours to discover who used him as an unwilling murderer and to avoid a return to damnation. The only person on his side is the summoner's sister, a half faerie police detective, investigating the murder he committed.


It's always interesting to see our present day lives through the eyes of someone who has no idea what the world is like. Laurent is only partly that way, as he's an extremely experienced individual, but for him, it's been 150 years since he's managed to set foot on Earth. The manners, the technology, the dress-- it's all new to him, and he's simply thrown into our time with no explanation why or where. Seeing him adapt is a joy, and seeing how he learns about us (not always in the most appropriate manner) is intriguing.

Setting a fairy in 21st century New Orleans is a brilliant move by Roche. The character and setting seem at odds with one another, but the combination of voodoo and fairy sorcery blends rather nicely in how he handles it. Even if a fairy isn't the sort of character one would think to put in the Big Easy, Laurent fits in very well there.


Roche has a simplistic style that is very easy to read. That isn't to say the writing is unrefined or childish. He says what he means very clearly so it's easy to read without getting bogged down in the language itself. He tells the story without getting overly flowery. I could have done with a little more fleshing out to some of the sections, though. I'm not all that familiar with New Orleans, so maybe a tad more description to set the scene would have been nice. I got a sense of place, but the atmosphere and ambience could have been laid on a little more thickly to give the story the darker tone it seemed to want. There was enough humor there to keep it from getting to dark, but I felt like Roche held back a tad too much.

My Thoughts
Two Steps from Hell went by too quickly for my taste. I mean that in a good way and a not-so-good way. I loved how easy it is to read Roche's work, but I wanted this story to be more fleshed out. There is a lot of presence, plot, and character development that got rushed through and could have comfortably been expanded to make this more novel-length than novella, and I would have been happy for it. Honestly, I wanted this to be a bigger story than it was. I wasn't dissatisfied with the events, but the pacing felt a little too rushed. Not a lot, but enough. It left me with a feeling of breathlessness that had me rushing, and I wanted to enjoy going along on this ride with Laurent. As it was, I felt more dragged along behind him rather than rushing with him to the resolution.

Roche does pave the way for a sequel, which is nice. Laurent is a character I'd like to see more of, and the USA is a country I'd like to see more of through his eyes.

Would I Recommend This Book? Sure! It's a quick read with some intriguing take on fairies, set in the always-interesting New Orleans. While the book does go by fast, it's worth it for the jaunt it is. I give Two Steps from Hell a tortured 3 of 5 stars.

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