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Sandman Slim

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Supernatural fantasy has a new antihero in Sandman Slim, star of this gripping, gritty new series by Richard Kadrey.

Life sucks and then you die. Or, if you’re James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles.

Now Stark’s back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you’d expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future.

Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse.

Darkly twisted, irreverent, and completely hilarious, Sandman Slim is the breakthrough novel by an acclaimed author.

388 pages, Hardcover

First published July 21, 2009

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About the author

Richard Kadrey

136 books3,266 followers
Richard Kadrey is a writer and freelance musician living in Pittsburgh, best known for his Sandman Slim novels. His work has been nominated for the Locus and BSFA awards. Kadrey's newest books are The Secrets of Insects, released in August 2023; The Dead Take the A Train (with Cassandra Khaw), released in September 2023; The Pale House Devil, released in September 2023.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,168 reviews
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 90 books232k followers
December 29, 2012
How could I have gone years without hearing about this book?

Simply said, I enjoyed it to a ridiculous degree. I picked it up mostly because of the blurbs on the back, authors I trust not to lie to me said glowing things. I was only 30 pages in when I called the local bookstore to order the other books in the series.

I like Kadrey's writing. It doesn't feel like he's trying desperately to impress me. It doesn't feel like he's trying to mimic the big powers in Urban Fantasy Butcher, Harris, Briggs, whoever the current flavor is. Kadrey is playing his own game here, and there's a sort of "fuck you" attitude to the whole book that I really enjoyed.

Also, the language is gorgeous. Not lyrical and arty. Kadrey has a way of phrasing things that left me smiling and chuckling to myself in public. That's a rarity for me these days....

Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,296 reviews120k followers
January 23, 2020
Having recently exited Hell, Stark is rather peeved at those who had sent him there for eleven years, and is eager for revenge. He has a fondness for stealing cars and making mayhem. Los Angeles comes in for some laugh-out-loud funny noir treatment.

Richard Kadrey - from his site

Richard Kadrey has created a world not unlike Kim Harrison’s Inderland, a blended world in which the magical and non-magical co-exist. I love Kadrey’s dark sense of humor, which reminds me very much of the Hell Boy series and Christopher Moore’s vampire books. I suppose it might be argued that Sandman Slim is derivative, but the weaving of magical and the real has become a staple and what counts more is how the tale is told. In Sandman Slim it is told very well. Kadrey maintains our interest by adding bigger-picture detail to Stark’s personal mission. There is a nice cast of supporting characters here, including a centuries old French alchemist, a spider-like person who survives by liquefying humans and drinking them, angels, anti-angels, magicians and at least one video store clerk who aspires to a bit more from life. If you thought that having one’s head cut off would be a conversation killer, think again. Kadrey has filled his stage with impressive props, magical weapons, potions, tools and pathways. This is a fast-paced fun read from start to finish. Thankfully Kadrey has kept at it and there are several more volumes if this one doesn’t leave you steaming in a very warm place.

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, Twitter, FB and Tumblr pages

The Barnes and Noble Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog has a feature in which various writers tell about shows or movies that go particularly well with their novels. Kadrey's turn came up on December 1, 2016 - The Binge-Watcher’s Companion Guide: Richard Kadrey’s The Everything Box [his latest book] and John Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy
January 20, 2022
“Fuck me. I’m a rock star. And all I really wanted was a burrito.”

And the moral of this reread is: My #1 boyfriend. Worse than the bogeyman and tooth decay. Not a fan of mythological soap operas (a shame, that). The Joseph Stalin of laundry. Loves painting walls with livers and spinal cords. Gives fellow monsters girls booty calls to massacres. Always in for a cigarette, a drink, and a lobotomy. How anyone can resist his undying charm is one of the greatest mysteries of the universe, if you ask me.

[August 2017]

Cunningly/shrewdly/mercilessly/whatever ruling over millions of mostly brain-dead murderous crustaceans doesn't mean one cannot be a complete, utter idiot sometimes. I mean, look at this delicious little piece of uproariously gruesome beauty here. It's been sitting unread on my to-be-ruthlessly-crushed to-be-read shelf for TWO bloody shrimping years. You really have to be some special kind of nitwit a little distracted to let such a disgraceful, revolting thing happen. In my defense, I have to say that my rampaging, decapodic kids are forever and always getting mixed up in subaquatic skirmishes, so it's no wonder I end up missing out on some slightly scrumptious books sometimes. Ergo, I forgive myself. Such a splendidly generous soul I am .

So. Why should I have read this decades, if not centuries ago, you ask? Because:

This world. This story. It's original. It's creative. It's dark and noir and stuff. It's gritty. It's messy. It's blackly hilarious. It's twisted. It's brutal. It's quite devastatingly beautiful, really. Also, it features asshole angels and yummy demons. And bloody shrimping Lucifer (aka my hero and role-model extraordinaire) himself. You just cannot go wrong with such a beautiful collection of cunning, devious, ruthless, perverse, murderous bastards.

This writing. It's first person, present tense (and I loved slightly liked it anyway *utters a shrimpy gasp*). It's scrumptiously in-your-face and charmingly aggressive. It's non-stop bloodbath action. And it's one hell of a page-turner despite the weird book structure (or lack thereof and stuff). Think of it as a perpetual acid high adrenaline rush that will keep kicking you in the lovely derrière until your turn the very last page. Which is kind of scrumptious and stuff.

This Jimmy Stark/Just Stark/Sandman Slim/New boyfriend of mine. He is a teensy little bit fucked-up screwed-up messed-up after spending the last 11 years of his life in Hell (fun times). He is delectably raw. He is exquisitely offensive foul-mouthed irreverent rude. And wickedly snarky, too. Also, he shoots/cuts/chops first and asks questions later. His slightly violent tendencies really are a thing of beauty. I like to think of him as my boyfriend Daniel Faust's somewhat demented/manic/homicidal/vindictive cousin from L.A. So much bloody shrimping hotness.

No wonder it was lust love at first sight between us. I mean, how was I supposed to NOT fall for him, when he says lovely, delicate stuff like: "If either of these guys even blinks funny, I’m going to be painting the walls with livers and spinal cords." And, just like that, forever doomed I was. Yes, it is quite official: I am in LURVE again .

This yummy cast of luscious supporting characters. Such a beautiful collection of benevolent, sane, gentle, decent, sophisticated personas here. And it's not only the the villainous villains well-meaning Mother Theresa wannabes I am talking about here. I mean, they are quite adoption-worthy in a pleasingly repulsive way, but it's my Stark's sidekicks I have a perverted weakness for: Vidocq because, you know, Vidocq and stuff. Kasabian, because, who would not fall for a sleazy, obnoxious undead head? And I am SO Kidnapping You Candy the Jade (IaSKYCtJ™), because: "Candy isn’t using the guns anymore. She’s back to teeth and claws, a meat grinder in tight jeans and Chuck Taylors." So beautiful. Sigh.

Cute, caring, affectionate teddy bears really are pretty disgusting, if you ask me.

» And the moral of this If You Are a Fan of Historical Romances and Cute Love Stories then this is THE Book for You Crappy Non Review (IYAaFoHRaCLSttiTBfYCNR™) is: this is so bloody shrimping good I am going to jump straight into book 2. When I should be somewhat devouring Edge of Forever.

Yeah yeah yeah, shame on me and all that crap, but I have Awesome Pippa DaCosta's blessing and stuff, so there.

· Book 2: Kill the Dead ★★★★★
· Book 3: Aloha from Hell ★★★★
· Book 3.5: Devil in the Dollhouse ★★★★★
· Book 4: Devil Said Bang ★★★★
· Book 5: Kill City Blues ★★★★
· Book 6: The Getaway God ★★★★★
· Book 7: Killing Pretty ★★★★
· Book 8: The Perdition Score ★★★★★
· Book 9: The Kill Society ★★★★★
· Book 10: Hollywood Dead ★★★★★
· Book 11: Ballistic Kiss ★★★★
· Book 12: King Bullet ★★★★★

[Pre-review nonsense]

Sandman Slim . Slightly unhinged. Slightly screwed up. Slightly reckless. Slightly violent. Slightly enraged. Slightly hilarious in a beautifully offensive way. Out for delicious revenge. Just my kind of prince: not bloody shrimping charming at all.



» Full Jimmy I Lurves Him Stark Just Made it Directly to the Most Scrumptious Boyfriends Ever High Security Wing of my High Security Harem YUM and Stuff Super Crappy Non Review (JILHSJMiDttMSBEHSWomHSHYaDSCNR) to come.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11k followers
July 15, 2011
WOWZA!! Rarely have I encountered a main character so loaded with ANGSTY RAGENESS and OMNIDIRECTIONAL BADITUDE as James Stark (aka Sandman Slim). I mean this guy is full of ARRRRRRRRRRGGGGHHHH!...and it works...mostly.

Now let me say at the outset that I don’t read a ton of Keith Urban Fantasy. I enjoy The Dresden Files on a casual, non-rabid, basis and despite wanting to bitch-slap the main character for his all too often bouts of annoying. I really liked The Devil You Know and plan on reading more of that series and I am absolutely Cocoa Puff Coo Coo for the Monster Hunter International series.

To that rather scrawny list, I now add the Sandman Slim series which I plan to continue reading as I think it has serious upside potential. Here’s the skinny:

In a world where magic and supernatural creatures are known to exist, Stark was a powerful magician in love with the only woman who ever really accepted him for who he was. Life was sitting pretty...until Stark was betrayed by a group of his magician “friends” who had him literally sent to Hell in exchange for power, wealth and other assorted knick knacks. Oh, and the magic-wielding chunk-o-turds also decided to go ahead and kill the love of his life. Can anyone else see the rage clouds of the revenge storm beginning to form?

Flashforward 11 years later….

Stark is back from Hell and the experience seems to have been pretty handy. He’s not only survived but managed to pick up some new skills (including virtual invulnerability), a few demon-built go go gadgets and increased his overall badassery quotient exponentially. To make matters worse for the assbaskets that betrayed him, his pissed off meter has also undergone a round of steroid therapy and is glued on red. Stark is back from Hell for revenge on the six who sent him there, especially the head of the group named Mason himself has become mega powerful thanks to arranging Stark's little tour of Hell.

This is the UF genre’s take on hardcore noir fiction. Stark is a paranormalfied version of your typical noirtastic main character. In fact, Stark’s name and the fact that one of the main bad guys is named Parker are pretty clear homage to noir fiction giant, Donald Westlake and his Parker novels (which he wrote under the name Stark).

I liked the world-building and Stark's revenge quest has him bumping into all kinds of bump in the night baddies as well as Nazi skin heads with demonic weaponry, and a team from Homeland Security sporting soem serious angelic firepower.

There are no real good guys in the cosmic battle ground and ever the angels are played with huge streaks of gray in them. Stark has nothing but contempt for both sides and treats them all with a hearty “fuck yourself” as he sees them as two sides of the same crooked coin. I liked Stark's "you can kill me but you can't control me and I promise you'll limp when its over" mindset.

This is espcially true when dealing with the "good" angels who he holds in special contempt. His anger lacede, expletive topped tirades at what they and their Boss have allowed to happen on Earth are some of the best moments in the book. Dark yes, blasphemous, oh yeah...but seriously compelling reading.

In the end, I liked Stark and the fact that he never really mellowed during the book. You are in his head throughout the book and so you know he is not really “evil” and so it is easy to like the guy. He has a moral code (if seriously jaded and rough around the edges) and he looks out for his friends. It did take me a while to warm-up to him as he spent way to much time telegraphing his dumb mistakes and vacationing in the land of self-pity that the he seemed to be spiraling down to doucheville. However, he recovered nicely and when it finally came down to knocking heads around, he was a one man force of nature that was pure fun to watch.

By the end of the book I was sold on Stark's potential as a really good character. His inner monologues and outer tirades were often spiced with heavy doses of funny and I liked the overall tone of the story. The writing was good and certainly didn’t detract from the story-telling.

3.5 stars for this one and high hopes for future installments.
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,828 followers
December 10, 2010
Ever read a book and find yourself thinking, "This is pretty good, but it could have been face-melting awesome."? This is one of those books for me. I really liked it, but found myself picking some serious nits while reading it.

Stark was a magician (a real magician, not a sawing-a-woman-in-half kind) who was madly in love with his girlfriend Alice when he was betrayed by another magician named Mason and some others. Mason managed to send Stark to hell, but as a living person, not a dead soul.

11 years later, Stark learns that Alice has been murdered on Earth by Mason and his pals. Determined to get revenge, Stark breaks out of hell with a magical key that allows him to access almost any point in any dimension. His stay in hell has made him supernaturally tough with an extremely bad attitude, but he soon runs across various angels, demons, monsters, alchemists, magicians, Nazi skin-heads and porn shop owners that he has to deal with as he learns that there may be something much bigger than his revenge at stake.

This had a great concept with a lot of original ideas and some terrific action. Mixing magic with various weapons, including shotguns, makes for some awesome carnage when thing really get rolling.

However, for the first 250 pages or so, Stark just comes across as an unlikeable asshole who blunders about warning his enemies he's back and generally getting his ass kicked. (I've noticed a common factor among supernatural characters like Harry Dresden or Joe Pitt that three-quarters of the books seem to consist of them getting beaten to a pulp by various beasties and this book continues that trend.) The first half of this book consists mainly of Stark complaining about all the clothes he's ruined by getting repeatedly abused.

The author has a bad habit of having Stark do stupid things, that he acknowledges as stupid, just to advance the plot and it's just chalked up to him being 'impulsive'. Plus, there are some serious logic gaps. Stark can access any point in any dimesion with his supernatural key. Yet, he seems to prefer stealing cars. And when he needs to dispose of a body, he steals yet another car and thinks about how many chances he's taking as he drops the body in the La Brea tar pits. Why wouldn't he just use the key and take the body to Antartica or the middle of the Amazon and just dump it? It doesn't help that he uses the key about 5 seconds after dumping the body.

However, the ending redeemed this book a lot. When the action finally starts, it gets massive in scale and imaginative in how weapons and magic could be blended. Stark become a bad-ass anti-hero instead of a whining jerk, and the ending sets up a lot of possibilities. I hope future ones are more like the second half of the book and less like the first half.

Oh, and for you Donald Westlake fans, the main character's name is Stark and one of the bad guys is named Parker. Get it?

Profile Image for carol..
1,538 reviews7,882 followers
October 12, 2012
After the second read-through, I've come to the conclusion that Sandman Slim is Jason Statham starring in a Simon R. Green Nightside story. Pulpy urban fantasy on steroids, it's perfect for an adrenalin read, but I recommend a pass if you are in the mood for deep thinking or don't feel up for violence.

Jason-cough- I mean, Stark--has made it out of Hell and is looking for revenge. Eleven years ago, six fellow members of a magic circle sent him to Hell, and his mission is to kill them all. Landing in a Hollywood cemetery, he quickly robs a suit and steals a car. After stopping at the Bamboo House of Dolls bar for a drink, he finds Kasabian, circle scapegoat, running a porn shop on the Hollywood strip. He meets Kas' manager, Allegra; goes on a shopping trip for new leathers and boots; and stops at his old apartment where he finds Vidocq, an alchemist, a thief and an old friend. Money is an issue if he's going to complete his goals (isn't it always?), so Vidocq hooks him up with a storekeeper that needs an odd job or two done.

I read voraciously until about a third in, when it became more of a struggle. Somehow, that seems backwards. There were several interesting ideas that elevated it above the mundane, including Stark's acquired resistance to injury, the Jade and the underlying celestial conflict. I found the Jade especially enjoyable, her Chuck Taylors and their 'first date' together. While the Sub Rosa was a snooze, the Inquisitor Medea was nicely described and menacing. Somewhat dreading a stereotypical war of heaven versus hell, I enjoyed Kadrey's solution to the traditional plotting dualism. The ending had a great plot twist that surprised me.

More troublesome was the middle of the road creativity, largely of the kitchen sink variety. I think my eyes rolled about the time the Nazis showed up to toss the bar. I know they did when there was a trip to the magic emporium, and by the time the Men in Black appeared, I'm sure I looked possessed. Then the dialogue had loads of one liners made for action movies, with far too many cultural references. Brad Pitt? Scarface? Two Donald Trump references? Suuuure, eleven years in Hell. Sure, the devil steals cable.

A number of inexplicably odd tactical moves and inconsistencies left me wondering if Stark was supposed to be dumb, or the plotting was just that underdeveloped. Yes, I know I'm talking about logic in a book about a man who escaped Hell. But the general idea of a fantasy/sci-fi book is that the logic of the world and the characters needs to be consistent. Since the world basically was, I was left with the conclusion that the protag wasn't heavy on the thinking skills. One minute concerned about exposure, the next minute not One minute making a deal about having a job (albeit owning a porn shop), the next minute not (blood on the floor? Paying the stoner help?). Decides he's fine without his friends then . Then the hero is a bit of a Mary Sue fighter--talented, invincible between his physical fighting skills, his damage proofing and his magic key. But oh-so-dumb. Not my favorite kind of hero.

There is a lot of violent imagery here. Not that there are violent scenes--which there are, but usually not gore-focused--but our hero also fantasizes about violence. But his is the good clean, funny variety, while the bad guys go for real evil.

Overall--enjoyable, definitely a fast read. Doesn't seem to be taking itself too seriously, so for the right reading mindset, it's a nice bit of fun. I'll try the next just to see where several interesting shiny bits might lead, and maybe to answer the question where the Sandman Slim label comes in.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,203 reviews2,583 followers
April 24, 2020
*** 4.25 ***

"I'm hard on things. Everything ends up broken, ripped apart, modified, stuck together or shot to shit. I'd be naked as Adam and cold as a polar bear if it weren't for duct tape."

A gritty, unapologetic, demonic Pulp Fiction! What a fun read! Not for the tender hearted nor the young, but for all of us who are fans of episodic serial pulp-noir, full of raw prose and very little which indicates the book and the author take themselves too seriously, this is right up our alley.

A young human magician is thrown by some "friends" into Hell and he returns back to LA 11 years later ready for some payback. It is violent, graphic, hilarious and full of very quotable sayings, but if I try to put more of them here, it will take my whole evening... There be monsters, there be Angels, there be shady and vile humans... There is enough blood being spilled to satisfy a starving vampire... Add a very angry, lost, and if it was his choice, constantly heavily inebriated serial killer with no social skills, and you get the picture. If this sounds like something you might like, I will strongly recommend it! This is my first read and I am sure I will be tackling the complete rest of the series! Let's find out who will rule the world - Heaven, Hell or the few adventurous and very corrupt humans and fallen angels... I am rooting for ... not sure yet:):):) Shell we find out?:)

"I'm going to kill some people," I tell him. I pour the Jack into the coffee. "Probably a lot of people."
The bartender picks up a rag and starts wiping glasses. "Guess someone's got to."
"Thanks for understanding."

Now I wish you all Happy Reading and many more wonderful books to come!!!
Profile Image for Orient.
255 reviews209 followers
February 15, 2018

Ohhh, "Sandman Slim", what a date it was! My first encounter with dear Mr. Stark aka lovely Sandman Slim was when I read the great reviews of Sarah, the Murderous 💜 I was deeply charmed and intrigued, well mostly because my latest date with Daniel Faust wasn’t very gripping for me and I was looking for another great character (with some similar abilities) in the lead to woot, drool and swoon for! And I found him for sure in "Sandman Slim" 💜

Interesting plot with great action, blood, gore and mindblowing humor (more with dark spices which I totally loved).

“Sandman Slim” is cleverly entwined, packed with fast pace and humor rollercoaster. The story is spiced with comical scenes, sarcastic sneak peeks into pop culture and ordinary life. All this is flanked with lots of action scenes, hitman stuff, moral issues, and mythological god vs devil fight. Some scenes may make you flinch if the removal if various body parts, lots of blood, gore and violence is not your everyday read! I like it in my fantasy reads so “Sandman Slim” reading experience was like watching a great thriller on TV.

I fell in love with this book for its smart, kick-ass humor, it serves well as a counterweight to the darker violent side and makes this a subtle, gripping and enjoyable read.

.“Suit yourself. But with magic, I don’t ever run out of ammo.”
“No, just brains.”

Word must have gotten around about my cage match with M…. and the K…...
F*ck me. I’m a rock star. And all I really wanted was a burrito.

Memorable characters I can fangirl for.

My fave part! Let the swooning begin 😆💜 There’s so much I love in Mr. Stark! He’s is a hard-core, self-concious, witty anti-hero. He knows what real hell is and he feels sorrow and pain like all of us, and he fights RL kicking and screaming! His roots, his past, wow. But that doesn’t make him a grumpy misery person. He’s the same awesome or even more than Dirty Harry! Broadcasting dark humor in Jack Daniels style, fighting the world with wonderful magic makes him a perfect anti-hero for me.

But I didn’t die.
I don’t know if it was the spells, the drugs, the Aqua Regia, or just clean living, but I was changing. Every time I should have died but didn’t, I got stronger. That meant that the next attack had to be harder, faster, even more ferocious than the one before. After a while, I actually looked forward to the beat-downs. Each one changed me and that change meant that I was immune from a similar attack next time. By the end, I was a flesh-and-bone, armor-plated Dirty Harry.

“What the hell is wrong with your clothes?”
“Yeah. I had a little accident coming into town,” I say, giving her a sheepish grin. It’s a look that girls used to like when I was young and not entirely unhandsome. Talking to a cute human girl that I might have flirted with in my former life, I forget for a second that I’m no longer young or handsome. I shift to what I hope was a more neutral expression.
“I might need to pick up some new things. What do you think?”
“Don’t bother. I hear that arson is the new black.”

“Aw. Dying didn’t work out for you? Boo hoo. Shove your James Dean wet dreams up your ass. At the end of the day, you’re still Sandman Slim and I’m still a head in a bag that smells like someone used it to store an extra ass.”
“I miss Alice.”
“I miss my balls.” K……….. looks around. “Who f*cked up my room?”
“It’s my room now and you did. When you blew yourself up.”
“Oh, right. That sucked.”
Aww, sweet K 💜😆

Wanna know about the baddies in this book? Damn it, but there are lots of them! I can literally count goodies on one hand fingers. While there are hundreds of twisted, cruel, perfect villains lurking there to entertain you 😱💜

?”If Donald Trump and the Wicked Witch of the West had a kid, it would be J……. She looks like a librarian with some money and good taste in clothes, but underneath the Versace, she’s Godzilla with tits…”

Magical creatures and magical world in total.

I enjoyed the magical system and creatures in this book. If it was my ordinary fantasy read, I would have found some common plot with demons and magic (You know it: There lived a nice guy with sh*tty past and RL, he did some magic and saved the world from some demons or/and monsters. Voila!), but thanks god (or devil? 😆) it wasn’t. I enjoyed the sneak peeks into magical world with master magicians and various evil creatures like fallen (or not) angels, devils, jades. The magical weapons and things did get me excited for real (now I know what I want for this Christmas!)

To sum up, ”Sandman Slim” is a gripping revenge story that caught me in its witty embrace and didn’t let go even after finishing the book.

💜 The characters are fascinating and likable even with their dark screwed-up side.
💜The action, humor and magic packed story is well-written and gripping.

This book is awesome and I’ll be most happy to continue my playdate with Mr. Stark 💜💜💜

P.S. There is gonna be Sandman Slim on the screen!!!!!

Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,820 followers
September 4, 2011
I guess I'm just getting old, but I'm so tired. I started 3 (4 if you count Tooth Fairy which I gave all of 2 stars) Urban Fantasies recently...one I took off my books completely as a waste of time and I didn't even bother to rate or review it...another I stopped reading and gave 1 star as another in a long line of anti-hero clones etc...now this one, and it's the same. I don't mind antiheroes, if their good antiheroes. This is another mouthy guy with attitude that I can't find even remotely believable, in a world where "good is rejected and Satan is seen (again) as a fairly reasonable guy. (Heaven and hell are pretty much the same, attitude wise apparently. I mean he has hell, so I guess he had to have "a heaven"). The "protagonist" opens the book having sneaked out of hell apparently having learned nothing from the experience. I mean hell seems to be pretty much pointless. The first thing the guy informs us is that he hates cops and hero types...but sometimes he has to intervene and do the "right thing". He's explaining why he intervened in a brutal carjacking...shameful for any tough, mouthy, antihero. I just couldn't get involved with this guy or his story.

Maybe I'm too old and have read too much of this crap...but enjoy it if you like. I find it just what I called it above.

There are very, very good urban fantasies out there. It's just too bad they seem to be hard to find. Or maybe I'm just too critical or particular...still, I love some Urban Fantasy books, some are pretty good, some just okay and others I find I wish I hadn't put my time into. If you think it's cool to sneer at life, embrace nihilism, and determine what's right and wrong by your own appetites, enjoy. Not for me. I'm frankly tired of idealization of protagonists who are "cool" because they "get away with it", or however you want to state it.Third loser book in a row and I guess I'm a little tired (have I told you that?). Hope I can find a brain candy book next that I enjoy reading.
Profile Image for Jen - The Tolkien Gal.
458 reviews4,422 followers
September 2, 2018
Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

Image result for sandman slim deviant art

Review to come, all I can say is this book really hit me in the right mood.

How are you?
I'm okay. All I need is a cigarette, wine and a lobotomy and I'll be all good.

Yep. Definitely caught me in the right mood - pessimistic, weary with just the right smattering of humour to keep me upright.

Buddy read with Karishma. Thanks so much for introducing me to MacHalos and this fantastic book, Karishma <3.

4.5 stars

His movements are quick and jerky like a broken wind up toy. There's something tucked in his palm and he's so twitchy he drops it - it's got a hundred cocaine rocks inside. Welcome to Christmas in LA.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,645 reviews5,109 followers
September 8, 2017
mean magician Sandman Slim returns from Hell to smash, slash, burn, beat, maim, and kill. it appears his time spent in the lower depth's gladiator arenas has only served to sharpen his skills rather than to mellow his temper. fortunately, he's not a bad guy and he's exercising his violent capabilities in Los Angeles, where there is plenty of room (and need) for such endeavors. he's an endearing sort - a man on a mission with a heart of gold. well maybe not gold, but certainly high quality silver at least.

the book is endearing as well. Kadrey tries to come across all hard-boiled but the book reads as if the author was just as addicted to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel as I was. straightforward writing with snarky, snappy dialogue that is often so on the nose that it made me wince, but also often a lot of breezy fun. there's much rushing back and forth and appearing in places suddenly (yay, magic) and swift reversals of fortune and just as swift reclamations of fortune; Kadrey keeps the pace popping but makes sure the story remains clear and the mysteries remain intriguing and engaging. I particularly enjoyed our hero's angst and irritation over his limited clothing options because I often feel similarly, although not usually because my clothes have been bloodied and burnt due to slaughtering various enemies (only sometimes). I also quite liked that talking head named Kasabian; possibly because I also like the band Kasabian. overall the book is a light delight and quite easy going down. fans of Urban Fantasy probably have already read this; if not, they should be reading this series as soon as possible.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,977 followers
October 10, 2020
So I just read this and now I have a big problem. I just want to go, "squeeeee squeeeee squeeeee" about the book, raving like a lunatic about how much I loved it, about how I had just found my next favorite UF series, but that doesn't actually SAY anything, you know?

But you know UFs. It's ALL about voice. The snark-meter is dinging all the time in this one.

I'm totally enjoying the fish-out-of-water vibe, too, but more than all the rest, it's like we got a grown-up, jaded Hogwarts alumni who had been sold out by his friends to Hell, was given special *refining* attentions in Hell's gladiator pits, and then eventually found his way back to Earth, 11 years later, to get a little payback.

Noir magic, folks. No side is on the side of the angels, even the angels. And everyone has an angle. The name is survival on the streets, ya'll, and Sandman Slim FITS with Los Angeles. All these elements are fantastic, but it's how Kadrey puts them together and tops it with a great voice that makes this sing.

Am I going to binge-read these?


Profile Image for Rick Riordan.
Author 508 books403k followers
November 8, 2013
Okay, this is NOT a children’s book, just FYI. This is noir urban fantasy, like Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series, but even grittier. The main character, James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, is betrayed by a group of powerful magicians and dragged bodily into Hell, where he spends eleven years fighting in the gladiator pits of Lucifer. Somehow he survives, and eventually manages to escape back to Los Angeles. Now he’s looking for the people who betrayed him, but to get revenge, he’ll have to navigate a world of angels, demons, vampires, magicians, and plenty of ruthless mortals with lots of secrets to hide. This is a rock ‘em sock ‘em adventure narrated in fresh, crackling hardboiled prose, with plenty of dark humor. I liked it so much I immediately bought the sequel, Kill the Dead. But again, this is very adult stuff. Not a YA fantasy.
Profile Image for Nicole.
732 reviews1,838 followers
May 17, 2023
At last, I am done with this book. I am a big fan of urban fantasy books and this one sounded like something I'd usually enjoy. Unfortunately, I didn't. I didn't find the story particularly original but it's okay this genre is bound to get repetitive. That wasn't my main issue but rather finding something to like. This book is just so meh.

I expected more of Stark, the main character. He was rash and reckless, he didn't make a proper plan and instead just acted in the spur of a moment. Even if (strategically) it made no sense. I honestly didn't care much about his background nor personality. The other side characters didn't stand out either.

Although there was some action going on throughout the book, I was still bored. I wasn't invested in the story nor cared about what was going on. I don't understand the hype at all. The last part eventually was more interesting than the rest of the book but it didn't matter since I didn't feel anything about (anything) up to that point anyway. There are much better UF out there. I haven't read many with a male read so this book feels like a missed opportunity to have something more original than hell/heaven matters.
Profile Image for Anne.
3,922 reviews69.3k followers
July 2, 2011
Remember that movie The Crow, with Brandon Lee? Ok. Sandman Slim has that same vibe...minus the emo goth-boy hero and scruffy little girl with a skateboard.

James Stark is the pulp fiction style anti-hero of this story, who has literally been to Hell and back.
Eleven years after being betrayed by a group of magicians, whose leader used Stark as the sacrifice to catapult himself to incredible power, he escapes from Hell with a new name and a new reputation. Sandman Slim, the monster who kills monsters. As the only living human in Hell, he was quite a novelty, and not in a good way. And now that he's back, it's time for a little payback.

This book isn't for everyone, but if you enjoy dark and dirty, you'll like this. It's not a perfect book, and there were a few times I found myself thinking, why'd he do that, when he could have done this?, or WTF is up with all of his names. Overall, though, this book was just a lot of fun.
Profile Image for Paul O’Neill.
Author 4 books175 followers
February 27, 2016
This was a slobber knocker of a book! Entirely original to anything I've read. I thought I'd be getting something similar to the Dresden files but it's not at all (not that being similar to Dresden would be bad!). The battle inside Stark's head reminds me of Spawn. He's a really kick ass character with a vendetta and the armies of Heaven and Hell exist. The magic is really cool. Definitely picking up the next book soon.
Profile Image for Robert.
Author 10 books420 followers
August 13, 2014
If our personalities are derived from the characters and novels we tend to enjoy (in my case both reading and writing), then I’d make a strong candidate for Shithead of the Year. Hell, I don’t even need a running mate. I suppose I could leave it at that, and just walk away, probably leaving more than a few of you scratching your heads. But I might as well expound upon my point, because once you start shoveling shit you might as well keep going.

You see, James Stark is a character I’m not supposed to like. In fact, he burns jackets, kills people (bad ones), and even manages to piss off a few angels just for fun. He’s the kind of guy you’re better off pretending you don’t know. If he does happen to come around, you barricade your front door, and then you call the fuzz. If the cops can’t keep him at bay, then you leave LA (it’s filled with people more fucked up than Stark anyway), and head somewhere safer like Mexico or Colombia.

Despite all of that, though, I actually liked the bastard. I rooted for him to rein hell-on-earth and kick the shit out of evil, and ruin a few more coats. I could almost feel his hatred coursing through my veins, and rather than be turned off, I was actually a little turned on. To be fair, it wasn’t all fireflies and sparklers, and I did manage to cringe once or twice, based on yet another terrible path he took. But if I didn’t see at least a fault or two, I’d probably be in more trouble than I already am. So maybe there’s the slimmest of slim chances I’m not completely fucked up.

In the spirit of Stark smashing a few faces, SANDMAN SLIM smashed together more than one genre, and made it work. The plot and dialogue raced forward (other than enough editing errors that I couldn’t help but notice); all the characters were filled with warm and gooey goodness (smirks); the action made it seem as though I was driving on two-wheels down Wilshire Boulevard (without traffic); and I even discovered another reason to hate a junkie or two (when you read it, you’ll see what I mean).

Like this novel so aptly proves time and again: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

I received this book for free at Left Coast Crime.

Cross-posted at Robert's Reads
Profile Image for Pippa DaCosta.
Author 69 books1,511 followers
March 29, 2017
This is crazy, dirty urban fantasy at its most deliciously brutal.

Stark (don’t call him Jimmy) is back from Hell, and he’s got a one track mind. All he wants is to kill the people who put him Downtown 11 years ago, and killed his girl. Save the world? Hell no. Be a hero? F*ck that. He boosts cars like most people catch busses, smokes like a train, and has a knack for not dying. And he really doesn’t give a shit for anything or anyone—only his revenge.

While he’s getting his revenge, people keep getting in his way. Some want to hire him, some die as collateral damage, most just want him dead. That’s their problem.

He’s a monster, he knows it, and he embraces it.

The first person present tense doesn’t pull any punches. It’s all up in your face getting angsty like a crackhead needing his next fix. No chapters, just scene breaks, means this is one non-stop action-packed page-turner. And to think I almost didn’t read it?! I’m not a big fan of first person present, and when I opened it up to find the writing style immediately kicking me in the face, I almost put it to one side for good. But, I tried again, gave it a few pages, and bam, I was sucked right in.

We have angels, anti-angels, vampires (jades), demons (of course), and a whole bunch of other bad-ass mofo’s from the supernatural crew. A magic coin that swears like a sailor, the undead head of a video rentals dude, kick-ass Candy—so much urban fantasy goodness. Honestly, it’s a spine-ripping, gut-punching, thrill ride.

The warning on the back has it right.

I can’t wait to get my teeth into the next one.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,377 reviews1,438 followers
February 18, 2019
Sandman Slim is a dark, urban fantasy read about a magician who was given to demons by people he considered his friends. Now, James Stark's back for revenge.

Because, what does he have to lose. He's already been to hell.

".. I'm lucky that way. Always have been. Otherwise, I might have crawled back into this world and ended up a charcoal briquette in my first five minutes home. And wouldn't those black-hearted bastards down under have laughed when I ended right back in Hell after slipping so sweetly out the back door? pgs 1-2

James is not just claiming revenge for himself. While he was with the demons, someone killed the love of his life. That someone is going to have to pay.

I've been gone eleven years. I was nineteen when I went Downtown. I'm practically an old man now. pgs 11-12

Meanwhile on earth, someone or something has been causing more chaos and destruction than usual. Los Angeles, though never particularly a "city of angels", seems to be something much worse now. But why should James care — he's not going to be around long enough to figure out what's going on anyway.

I really enjoyed Sandman Slim. James Stark is brooding, angry and you can't help but hope for him to succeed.

Revenge is never what you think it's going to be. There's no pleasure or glory, and when you're done your grief remains. pg 54

The world Richard Kadrey has created has levels and different forms of spirituality and magic. Angels, demons and monsters walk the streets, in plain view but hidden from those who don't know what they're looking at.

There's an alchemist named Vidocq who accidentally made himself immortal. A mysterious doctor who helps those in the magical community but doesn't charge for his services. And readers are also introduced to Allegra, a beautiful young woman who runs a video shop and wants to learn more about magic.

"Where was God when I was stuck in Hell?" I ask her. .... "Maybe God thought you were where you belonged. pg 228

Recommended for readers who don't mind their urban fantasy reads filled with some profanity and angry heroes.
Profile Image for Scott Sigler.
Author 120 books4,040 followers
April 5, 2016
A kick-ass book.

It's DRESDEN FILES meets DEXTER meets DIRTY HARRY. Foul-mouthed and bad-tempered to the gills.

You can see the DEXTER influence in this concept. Instead of a "serial killer who kills serial killers," you have a "monster that kills monsters." That was one of the few angles of this book that didn't work for me, though, as the main character is human an a "monster" only in spirit.

Kadrey has a gift for PULP FICTION-esque dialogue, rapid-fire and full of creative insults.

This is book one of a series that seems destined to follow the Sookie Steakhouse / Harry Dresden / Buffy Summers route of one Big Bad after another, all slightly escalating the stakes, as each subsequent tale builds to the ultimate big bad somewhere down the road.

If you are a fan of supernatural stories, two-fisted tales, anti-heroes and/or copious amounts of hard liquor, you'll probably enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Shreyas Deshpande.
155 reviews11 followers
February 8, 2023
This is gritty urban fantasy at its most deliciously brutal.

Stark (don't call him Jimmy) has returned from Hell with a single-minded mission: to exact revenge on the people who sent him to the underworld 11 years ago and killed his beloved. He's not interested in saving the world or being a hero; he prefers to steal cars, smoke like a chimney, and cheat death. He doesn't care about anyone or anything, except for his thirst for vengeance.

As he pursues his goal, he encounters people who want to hire him, those who become unfortunate casualties, and those who simply want him dead. But none of them can stand in his way. He knows he's a monster and he embraces it. His presence is undeniable and his attitude is unapologetic. This is a fast-paced, action-packed page-turner that doesn't let up, with no chapters to break the tension. It's a gripping story that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

We have angels, anti-angels, vampires (jades), demons, and a plethora of other nefarious supernatural creatures. A magical coin that swears like a sailor, the undead head of a video rental clerk, and kick-ass Candy - so much urban fantasy goodness! It's an adrenaline-pumping, heart-stopping, rollercoaster of a ride!

Profile Image for AH.
2,005 reviews370 followers
March 6, 2012
Sandman Slim is the story of James Stark. Stark has quite a chip on his shoulder: He was sent to Hell at age 19 and has languished there for 11 years. Stark is out for revenge and wants to kill those responsible for his time “Downtown.”

Told from Stark’s point of view, the narrative voice combines a wicked sense of humor with irreverence, snark, and the need to get even with those who wronged him. Stark is a complex character: He is still grieving the death of his first love Alice. At the same time, there doesn’t seem to be a car in L.A. that cannot be hotwired by Stark. Stark is adept at all kinds of weapons use. He is also a magician, but he hesitates to use his magic for fear of attracting the attention of the Hellions. Stark is also difficult to kill, a definite asset in his world.

The world building is quite extensive and the use of L.A. and its’ seedy side adds a dark, urban feel to this book. Stark’s memories of his time in Hell and his descriptions of the various factions at war there add color and texture to the narrative.

I was also impressed by the variety of different paranormal creatures. While there were the usual angels, demons, and vampires, there were also the Kissi – a freaky kind of fallen angel. One of my favorite characters was a Jade – a kind of vampire with shark teeth.

The eclectic mix of characters makes this book very interesting. I loved Vidocq, Stark’s old friend and companion. Allegra, the Goth video store clerk was a surprising character. Candy the Jade was a perfect partner for Stark.

The story is well paced and there are some fantastic action sequences that kept me on the edge of my seat. Stark and his friends like their guns and know how to use them. My only criticism of this book is that there were absolutely no chapter breaks. I never really could tell where I could stop and take a break. Not a big problem; I finished the book fairly quickly.

Favorite quotes

“Now you are thinking like a thief. Fewer guns and more exits. We’ll cure your cowboy ways yet.”

“We’re monkeys in trees one day and the next we’re monkeys with dental hygiene and cell phones. Best of all, we don’t throw shit at each other anymore.”

Review posted on Badass Book Reviews.
Profile Image for colleen the convivial curmudgeon.
1,155 reviews286 followers
September 4, 2011
So, this book is a basic "back for revenge" kind of thing. Our protagonist gets sent bodily to hell, somehow manages to survive for 11 years, then gets embedded with a magic key that lets him go anywhere, and comes back for revenge after they kill his girl.

There are some interesting concepts - a bit of a twist that the guy coming back from Hell is still actually alive, some cool weaponry, like the na'at which is a weapon from Hell which is pretty mutatable, some magical stuff, so on and so forth.

But the writing's pretty terrible. I mean, even for a pulp book. It was very jumpy. More than once I wondered if I was missing a page or a chapter or something, because he'd be cleaning up bodies, and then thinking of gum. (Ok, not a real example, but you get the general idea.)

And he's pretty one-note - all of the characters are - and he's constantly flying off half-cocked and doing stupid things and getting other people hurt and just generally being a ponce. (The author makes some nods at trying to explain some of this. He time in Hell gave him impulse control problems, for instance, but it was pretty damn annoying to read about it over and over and over again.)

All in all, it wasn't terrible and I wouldn't say "Oh dear gods, no, don't read this book!", but I'm less than motivated to read any more of it (especially since I've heard the sequel's "not as good" as the first.)

In a way it's unfortunate because the last third of the book, after the rather anti-climactic big battle, the things that were there to sort of set-up the continuation actually started getting somewhat more interesting. Not enough, though, for me to check it out.

I do think it had some interesting concepts and characters, though, especially if they're developed a bit more, but I think it could work much better as a movie or as a comic because the narration is really the worst part of the whole thing.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,034 reviews2,605 followers
February 4, 2013
Whoa, this was dark. And also fun. It's got that whole "I don't give a fuck" attitude emanating off of it in droves, and you know what? I actually kinda liked that.

I've read more urban fantasy in the recent months than I have in years. I like the genre; I admit it's grown on me. But sometimes, I just need an urban fantasy fix that doesn't involve any messy paranormal romances with werewolves, vampires, or faeries, you know what I mean? Sandman Slim was the perfect break from that, with its gritty story about demons and fallen angels and a main character who, like in most urban fantasy books starring a male protagonist, is hilarious and always armed with a treasure trove of pop culture references and creative metaphors.

Stark is also so angsty and full of rage that I'm actually kind of worried if I'd be able to take it if he remains this curmudgeon-y for the rest of the series. I am still picking up the next book though, no doubt about it.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,729 reviews465 followers
May 5, 2020
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I feel like I have been wanting to read this book forever. I bought the ebook more than eight years ago and added the audiobook to my collection nearly six years ago. I am not really sure why it took me so long to finally get started with the series but I am happy to report that this book is really as good as I had hoped it would be. I am so glad that I finally took the time to give this one a listen.

James Stark was only 19 years old when he went to Hell. It is now 11 years later and he is back and ready to deal with the friends who sent him away. The past 11 years have been hard on Stark but he survived and picked up a few skills along the way. Things have changed in the world while he was away and he has a few adjustments to make as he works to settle the score.

I really liked Stark. He is tough and able to think on his feet. We learn pretty early on that he can be rather brutal when necessary but he will also go out of his way to help others who are truly innocent. We really learn a lot about Stark in this book and I think that his past and time in Hell have helped to shape him. Stark does have a sense of humor and there were times that I found myself chuckling. I also really enjoyed the supporting cast of characters and I think that the whole ensemble really helped to make the story entertaining.

This story is really exciting. It is really interesting right out of the gate and everything builds as the story progresses. I like that there is no big information dump as you sometimes find in the first installment in a series. Instead, the world-building happens slowly as the story is told. There is plenty of action to keep things moving and a few scenes where we really get to see how much Stark has lost. I think that the pacing of the story was very well done and I liked that I was always eager to get back to the story.

MacLeod Andrews did a phenomenal job with the narration of this book. He really brought James Stark to life and I couldn't imagine this character having a different voice. He handled all of the character voices extremely well and added a lot of excitement to the story. I know that I enjoyed this story a bit more because of his narration.

I would not hesitate to recommend this book to others. This is a very strong start to a series that I can't wait to continue. The characters were very well done and I found myself completely engaged in the story from beginning to end. I cannot wait to read more of this series!

Initial Thoughts
I ended up really enjoying this one. The narrator of the audiobook does an amazing job with this story and the story itself is really exciting. Stark is a great character. The more that we learned about him, the more I found that I liked him. There is a lot going on in this story and I found that I had to start the audiobook over at the midpoint since I was pretty sure I missed some key points. It was worth putting in that extra time. I like that there was a bit of humor that was worked into this story along with some pretty intense action. I cannot wait to read more of Stark and the rest of the gang.

Book source: purchase
Profile Image for Benji Glaab.
525 reviews47 followers
March 22, 2019
After doing an 11 year tour in hell honing his skills at killing and practically having a threesome with pain and suffering, James Stark has returned to a scum infested L.A.

Seeking revenge on ex-friends that were at the center of the scheming betrayel that sent Jimmy on a trip "downtown". Sandman slim could live with that, however wrought with guilt for not being able to protect his only love he's intent on tracking down the man responsible for her death, Mason the plots mastermind and talented magician.

This book made for an exceptional quick read. Filled to the rim with action packed laughs along the way. I loved Kadrey's voice throughout the tale. He speaks to an average audience. Although clever there's nothing fancy about his delivery. Perfect style for this type of story.

I love Sandman slim's introspection. It didn't give me too much to think about , but did it ever give me a great sense for what kind of character he truly is.

What's to like

Sandman's arsenal was off the chain. He has Old west dusters, sawed off shotguns, Some Hellion specialties Azazeal's Blade which doubles as a key that can unlock virtually anything, and my personal fave A Na'at
"Traditionally you use a na'at like a spear or a staff, but there's another trigger that collapse the central shaft. Suddenly the na'at is as loose as chicken chow mein, a metal whip that can strip the skin off a rhino like peeling a grape. Not that I've ever peeled a rhino or a grape, but you get the idea."
Combine some cool weapons with handy earth magic, and Hellion Hexes and you've got a magician killing machine.

Sandman slim's favorite pass times

- Grand theft auto, he Jacks at least 2-3 vehicles daily.

- Watching movies most people haven't heard of.

- Smoking, drinking jack Daniels, And making out with mega babe monster chicks that on occasion drink people.

Needless to say Kadrey had a lot of fun creating the sandman slim character. And this translated throughout the entire story to me the reader.

Final thoughts

Let it be known I love the crazed vigilante Frank Castle. I figure if the Punisher went to hell and came back we'd be looking at Sandman slim. I feel Kadrey payed homage to the genre. and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to learn that Kadrey was inspired by some great graphic novels like Neil Gaiman's SandmanThe Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes, well duh it's just the hell aspect was structured with many similarities. Also Hellblazer Hellblazer: Original Sins James Stark's back story totally reminded me of John Constantine.

I would recommend this book for anyone who likes action quick paced (people that play video games) anyone that's dabbled in 90's era graphic novels. Or anyone that's stuck in a reading rut looking to try something fun with a little quirk.
Profile Image for Steve.
962 reviews94 followers
September 2, 2016
3 stars, but could have been so much more.

Okay, so this was a mash-up of urban fantasy, LA-style noir, gothic punk, with angelic/demonic tendencies, along with the potential to be a great story that didn't quite get there.

As a 19-year old young man, James Stark was part of a gang heavily involved in magic -- real magic, the kind that can get you killed and sent to Hell. Which is exactly what happened to Stark. Sent to hell for 11 years, where he was used by his demonic tormentors in a gladiator-like arena. He has now escaped, and made his way back to LA for revenge against his former gang.

That's the set up, and like I said, the potential is great. I'm not sure what happened along the way, but it failed to live up to that potential. The characters were okay, maybe flat and cliche, the plot was good, if a bit overused, and the "surprise" ending was anything but surprising, being broadcast loud and clear from about the halfway point.

Even still, I'll keep reading/listening to the series for now, in hopes that it will improve.
Profile Image for Jenna Leone.
130 reviews27 followers
April 3, 2023
You can read my original review on my book blog or listen to the audio version on YouTube.


Sandman Slim is my favorite type of urban fantasy: unapologetically dark and gritty. Whereas a lot of urban fantasy books cut the darker elements with humor and heroes with hearts of gold, Sandman Slim goes for the complete opposite effect.

Everything sucks. Everybody’s an asshole. And every encounter ends with violence.

It’s tough to write such a novel in a manner that doesn’t rub the reader the wrong way, either by making the protagonist too unlikeable, or by making the story so bleak that it becomes too depressing to enjoy.

But you know what? Sandman Slim pulls it off pretty well.


The story begins with James Stark clawing his way out of Hell (literally) after a betrayal by his own friends resulted in a trip downstairs eleven years before. In the interim, Stark has become a hitman in Hell, while his ex-friends, a group of magicians, have risen up in the world. Except for one of them, who got shafted and left to run a failing video rental business.

Sadly, Stark’s girlfriend Alice was also murdered during his absence, an event that prompted him to make his great escape. And now, Stark is out for revenge. Against everybody who wronged him, and everybody who gets in his way.

What follows is a cascade of violent, action-packed encounters with various human magicians, angels, demons, government spooks, and creatures that belie understanding. There’s also of mystery thrown into the story, wherein Stark tries to find the mastermind behind the plot that sent him to Hell.

The plot of Sandman Slim starts jogging at a quick pace from page one and never really lets up. There are few breather moments, most of which are dedicated to informative introspective bits about Stark’s personality, and who he used to be before his trip downstairs.

There’s no shortage of action in this book, but there’s also not too much. The action sequences are well spaced out between important conversations and mystery-solving moments. The scenes do get a little “choppy” here and there, with Stark traveling from place to place very frequently between scene breaks. But overall, the structure is solid.

I think the plot of Sandman Slim is fairly strong.


The world-building of Sandman Slim is also pretty good. It does set up the somewhat cliché idea of Heaven, Hell, and Earth as the three standard planes of existence, with angels and demons and everything else that entails. But the book adds a few good twists to this to make it feel fresher, and those twists create a lot of possibilities for the future books in the series.

My only real complaint is that the magic system is extremely soft. There’s not much rhyme or reason to the magical powers that the characters in the story possess. They’re simply able to do a wide variety of magical things, and there’s little in the way of explanation as to how or why.

I do prefer a touch more structure underneath the magic system of fantasy books, but that’s not a huge downside, by any means.

Overall, the world-building of Sandman Slim is adequate.


Stark is a terrible person. He sits at the very bottom of the antihero category, right on the border with villain. For much of Sandman Slim, he acts like a total asshole (although this is somewhat forgivable, considering he just escaped from Hell). He’s willing to commit all manner of violence to get his way, he has major trust issues, and his choices throughout the book are…questionable, at best.

Long story short, Stark is not a character that everybody will like.

The supporting is cast is largely made up of interesting characters, but few of them are given the chance for significant development over the course of the novel. The story is so laser focused on Stark’s revenge quest that we only get little peeks at everyone else’s personality and motivations.

I do wish that some of the other characters, particularly Stark’s friends, were given more development in the book. But since this is a long-running series, I won’t fault the book too much for leaving the other characters a little bit flat. There was, after all, a lot to learn about Stark.


Sandman Slim has its pros and its cons. It’s exactly the sort of “grim dark” urban fantasy that I enjoy, and there was an abundance of exciting action and interesting mystery elements. But the world-building was shallower than I would’ve liked, and the supporting cast was a bit neglected by the protagonist’s concerns.

Thus, Sandman Slim goes firmly in the “pretty good but not great” category.


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