Snake Agent by Liz Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
As an incredibly original work of imagination, I cannot recommend this novel more highly. The author creates a myth-based fantasy with an Asian vision of earth, heaven, and hell, daring to take the reader to all of these places, and yet it succeeds in doing so convincingly. The comic-book elements of the story--ghosts, magic, kidnapped souls, hell-made epidemics--make perfect sense in the context of the book. The author's imagination does not fail her readers; this book is great fun.
It is obvious that this is a sequel to an unpublished story or stories, but that gives this novel a rich back-story which jumpstarts it right from the first page. The characters--interesting, varied, each with their own motivations--arrive fully-formed in a pre-imagined world whose elaborate settings give color to the fantasy/science fiction/detective action.
Never has the improbable and the unlikely made so much sense. If the blurb seems intriguing--"...when the ghost of a murdered girl fails to arrive in Heaven as expected, it's up to Chen to investigate. the matter..." "Seneschal Zhu Irzh is a demon employed by Hell's own police force to promote and regulate Vice..."--if that sounds like it might be fun to read, you will probably find you're right.
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