“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.” (From Smashwords.com)
When I first heard about the new Novella “Two Steps from Hell” by Scott Roche, it was by way of him showing off its cover on Facebook. I mean “showing off” in the most justified way possible. Because there wasn’t else to go by, I first judged the book by its cover, which was done by the fantastically skilled Scott Pond. Nowadays many things get self published and most look it. I appreciate that it’s a question of finances if an author does their covers themselves – I have often done that too – and a lot of book cover designers with affordable rates still make book covers look “self-pub”. That in itself isn’t a bad thing, but it can turn away some people. This made Two Steps from Hell a refreshingly positive experience. No one would think it was self published by looking at the cover. It’s simply stunning. I gave in to the cover’s pull and bought the book on Smashwords. Inside, there were a few editing flaws which will probably be sorted by the author soon.
Now onto the story. I like myself a good prantagonist, one where even his bad reasons are understandable in some ways. This is not just the usual crime novel from the murderer’s point of view, though. It felt more like the most un-morning person being woken up at 5 AM to spend a coffee-less morning in a room full of cheerful people. People would empathise with him too, if he’d end up murdering someone. It is actually quite a sweet story, in a grumpy and twisted way. The interaction of the characters is very funny and I laughed out loud a few times. They fit together very well too and this novella is a great setup for a series. I thoroughly enjoyed the story – it set up an interesting range of beings and powers about which I’d like to find out more. Explanations like “this can be done because it’s magic” and nothing more are usually not enough for me. I hope there is more to all the magic and powers and an underlying plan and a system to them. Of course that can be done in a sequel.
Which leaves me with the end – it is quite open, which kept me on the edge. Usually I like things solved unless it’s a series. Now I only have to hunt Scott down and make him write the next one. I can warmly recommend this novella and I didn’t get anything for saying that! 🙂
Two Steps from Hell is available at: