“Devil in the Dollhouse” by Richard Kadrey — a review

An Ass-Kicking Amuse Bouche; Not for the Uninitiated

“Devil in the Dollhouse” is a new short story by Richard Kadrey (tumblr, twitter). When you buy the short story, you actually get a two-for-one deal. You not only get the short story, but you also get a sneak peak chapter of the next Sandman Slim novel, DEVIL SAID BANG (which comes out on August 28).

So first the short story. When the last Sandman Slim novel, ALOHA FROM HELL, left off, Sandman Slim had just inherited Hell, becoming the new Lucifer. “Devil in the Dollhouse” picks up shortly thereafter, with Sandman Slim going on a mission that will help him prove to the other hellions that he is worthy of Lucifer’s title, despite not being a fallen angel.

Of course, this being a Sandman Slim novel, nothing goes to plan. Richard Kadrey offers readers the violence, snark, and pop culture/historial references we have come to expect from these stories. And of course, Sandman Slim can’t help but become a little (more) damaged with each step along his infernal journey. “Devil in the Dollhouse” is a fast-paced, fun teaser of a short story that whets your appetite for what Richard Kadrey has in store for us with DEVIL SAID BANG.

Speaking of which, you also get the first chapter of DEVIL SAID BANG. This book picks up a little bit after “Devil in the Dollhouse,” and we get to see how Sandman Slim is rebuilding Hell in his own image. We also get an idea of just how devious and (possibly literally) backstabbing Hell will be.

But I would not recommend it as a entry point into the world of Sandman Slim. The learning curve would be too steep. Richard Kadrey moves fast, and if you don’t know the characters, the weapons, or the backstory, you will be confused by this story instead of entertained by it.

With the Sandman Slim novels, Richard Kadrey has created a certain aesthetic. It’s noir + contemporary fantasy + sarcasm. It’s a cool vibe, without being slick. In fact, it’s more like a punch in the face followed by a snarky quip. It’s like an 80s action movie, only with demons and dark magic. What I’m saying is that these reads are a lot of fun. Well-written, with twisting (and twisted) plots and unique characters, I look forward to each new story. And “Devil in the Dollhouse” was no exception. I really enjoyed it, and it made me eager to read DEVIL SAID BANG. It’s like a well-done teaser in advance of a summer blockbuster.

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