Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review of Dead Reign by T. A. Pratt

I realize this 2008 offering from T. A. Pratt is only the third in a longer series, but it's my first introduction to his master sorceress, Marla Mason.

It would have been nice to get to know Marla a little better before the action of this story begins. Instead, after Death kicks her out of Felport, the city she runs, she hardly plays a role in the story until about 80% of the way in.

While her supporters, led by mysterious entity Rondeau,
fight a rear-guard resistance, we are left to wonder what her next
play will be, if any. Finally, she decides to invade Hell to kick some
butt. She just happens to know a seer who can get her in. It all
sounds a little too easy.

Luckily, I always enjoy it when there's a feckless sidekick, and Dead Reign introduces Pelham, gifted to Marla as a "valet," much against her desires. Pelham is rather naive and wishy-washy (picture Jarvis in "Agent Carter,") but a welcome addition anyway, especially when we see Marla rescue him after he's been eaten by a dragon/witch.

Marla's sortie into Hell can't help but be a real thrill ride. You see, hell is an individual thing. In this case, it embodies all of Marla's worst fears and contains her worst, albeit dead, enemies. Pratt throws an incredible panoply of nightmarish monsters and creatures at Marla and Pelham. But the one monster she never would expect is Death himself--or, rather, the
old Death, who refuses to step down. He makes Marla an offer she can't refuse, and we await the verdict: Who will reign in Hell?

As you might guess, Marla lives to fight another day in the sequel, "Spell Games." Dead Reign's available on Amazon.

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