MBGIf I were to create my idea of the perfect fantasy love child of, well, fantasy literature, I would take the best of Neil Gaimen and Clive Barker and meld them into one.  I would stir gently the darker tones of Clive and fold them into the fluffy yet dense snarkiness and black humor of Neil.  I would take the intimidating strength of Neil’s solid characters and plant them into Clive’s firmly rooted geography.

The result would likely be very much like this book.

Perhaps because I’m an atheist I can love stories about angels and demons without any of the resulting fear or guilt.  It makes for great story telling that is endlessly entertaining, particularly if you aren’t worried about your immortal soul.

Though this book was described as bone chilling I found it mostly amusing and even in parts, affecting.  Mr. B. Gone is a low class demon with a certain amount of charm.  He directly threatens, cajoles and otherwise manipulates the reader, all in an attempt to get you to burn the book.  In between such tirades he tells the story of how he came to be stuck in the book itself.

I can’t say that I got so involved with the story that I started to hear Mr. B. Gone’s voice in my head (someone might have called a priest to cleanse me!), though that is something that very strong narrators have been known to do to me.  I was always at a safe enough distance to hear his even his most atrocious crimes with a tone of unattached amusement.  What a neat little trick the author has pulled, I kept thinking.  I will also say that the angel-demon negotiations in a scene at the end of the book were reminiscent of Good Omens, but without the sarcastic humor.  Otherwise all his Gaimen-ness was not only forgiven, but enjoyable.

Still Barker tells a comprehensive story about one particular demon and his place in the world Above (not to mention the world Below – he’s from the 9th level of Hell, the very bottom of bottom feeders).  Mr. B. Gone is weak and petty, passionate and heartless, naively stupid and infinitely wise.  I really got to like him by the end, despite the fact that he repeatedly threatened to slit my throat.

Which is not to say I’m not glad he wasn’t really in the book.  Maybe I should burn it just in case. . .

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