“Almost every story in the world has a back door through which the Devil can enter if he so chooses.”
Up front, Hannah Green is a novel not everyone will enjoy. Rules aren’t just broken in this story, they’re shattered, and then strung together with wire into a prism through which–when the light is shining just right–you can somewhat make out the semblance of a story. The greater construct (aka: plot) pales in comparison to the way each sentence is strung together, and therein lies the challenge inherent in this tale. Because those looking for a typical … well, anything … aren’t going to find it. There’s nothing typical about this story, from the way it’s told to the beauty of its prose. But when the final page is turned, there’s also a feeling that one’s been cheated somehow, that the magician pulled off an amazing trick but one that had to be planted.
I cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoyed the writing in this. Michael Marshall Smith may be showing off here, but all you can do is sit back and admire the talent. For this alone, the book is worth the read, and I don’t say that lightly. There’s a confidence and ease with which the novel is written, while pointing out along the way the cleverness of its construct. Admittedly, this pulls some readers out of a story. For me, it sucked me right in.
Plot-wise, I felt this might have been tighter as a novella than a full length novel, and though the locales and settings change it does feel a bit like you’re going in circles. Not enough happens and the stakes never feel quite big enough (which is strange to say considering you’re dealing with hell and demons and clearly life-altering events). Maybe it’s the YA feel and approach, which generally isn’t something I gravitate towards, so it could just be me. Still, this was a novel I felt fully engrossed in and one of the most unique reads I’ve tackled in awhile. And for any lover of language and clever prose, don’t even hesitate on raising this to the top of your reading pile.
“Hell is not a place. It’s not a noun, child. It’s a verb.”