Book Review–Echoes of the Past

I’d read Tim Marquitz’s novel, Echoes of the Past, in late spring 2012. It was an advance review copy for trusted reviewers only. I’d posted a review on Goodreads, but not here. It has bugged me for six months now. Tim has become one of my professional allies in this twisted business of books. The early reviews I’d done of the Demon Squad series were written as a fan, but that line has crossed closer to friend. I can still be honest.

Echoes of the Past is the fourth installment of the Demon Squad series. The greatest challenge is writing a review without giving too much back-story of the previous books and ruining the awesome revelations for those who have yet to read all three. So, here is a very elementary synopsis of the first three books so as to give scope to protagonist Frank’s twisted life.

Armageddon Bound was ground-breaking horror/comedy/urban fantasy. It was raw and flawed, and that is what made it all the more endearing to underdog author, Jake Elliot. The idea and world Tim has created is tremendous. Frank ‘Trig’ is a half-demon who lives with the rest of us sad-sacks here on earth, and he’s been quietly living in the city of El Paseo for a very long time.

Unlike the rest of us, Frank is privileged to know that Lucifer and God have abandoned the known universe to try and patch their own misgivings and hopefully avert the promised battle of Armageddon. Well, some demons and some angels aren’t too cool with the change of plans and think Armageddon should still happen. Poor Frank is stuck in the middle and might just be humanity’s greatest hope.

Resurrection was the second book. It is a story about shambling zombies and the necromancer who controls them. Sexy Lilith, mother of all Succubae, becomes a naughty fly in Frank’s ointment. The necromancer seeks to raise an early model for the Antichrist from the dead —that is of course, if Lilith is capable of telling the truth. Should I mention she is also Frank’s ex-mother-in-law?

At the Gates is the third in series. Heaven is besieged by an army of nephilim (mutant half-angels rejected by the Angelic Host) and a large group of werewolves led by Grawl the werebear. Inside the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life is wounded by the violence that has disrupted the tranquility of Heaven, and reacts by causing death storms raining acid on the earth. The end of At the Gates captured deeper emotion than I thought Tim Marquitz being capable of delivering. This book really amazed me.

Whew….we made it. Now for Echoes of the Past.

Over the course of the last couple books, Frank has captured the interest of a foxy demonic girlfriend. High-five Frank! Her dad is the strongest potential Antichrist, for whom Lucifer deceived two-thousand years earlier. Frank, I’d suggest keeping your hands away from where your girlfriend’s swimming suit covers. Daddy might develop a bit of a grudge from somewhere in his demon-spawned soul.

Speaking of classic devilish deceptions, Frank also learns that Uncle Lou has pulled a fast one over him as well. It looks like Lucifer was getting a little back-door lovin’ from Frank’s mom, which turns out to be a direct reason why Frank’s mom died violently so many years ago.

Not knowing about Frank’s new found secret, Lucifer has sent message to Frank, the only half-demon Satan believes he can trust. The message is about extra-dimensional terrorists who are coming to lay waste to all of God’s creations. With God and Lucifer’s relationship mended, together they fight a new war, this time for the sake of all existence. Back on Earth stands a resentful Frank, now expected to save creation on the words of the world’s greatest liar.

There are many great things in this book.

The #1 great thing––the main villain can use the words of famous authors to manifest objects into real life; my particular favorite was the scene with Moby Dick. I still chuckle with the memory. ––Girls, get your minds out of the gutter, I’m talking literature, not fantasy––Sheesh.

Great thing #2––the new involvement of the US Government was also worth a deep laugh. Truly, they are as incompetent as most cities’ DMVs, but Uncle Sam is now fighting supernatural crime. Thank you, Team America. Frank screws up big time and becomes the enemy of the state. Government spooks wait at random places in El Paseo with sniper rifles, Frank is their target.

#3––Frank is truly alone to fix this extra-dimensional problem. Almost all his buddies, (save Katon and Rahim) have turned their backs on Frank. Even Falcor and Baalth have shunned him. (These are both demons, who in past books have indirectly given Frank a hand.)

This episode was the most imaginative and tightest writing I’ve seen in the series. However, I thought the punch-line was a little too predictable. Don’t take my word on it though, I am a writer and it is hard to trick writers with writing. The big punch-line, the title reason for Echoes of the Past was something I’d suspected since Resurrection. In defense of the story, I read very slowly and I’m a perceptive reader. The true mastery of Tim Marquitz is shown in his delicate plotting.

I eagerly await the next installment of his series. My greatest hope is that he takes his time and does it right––bring it like a baseball bat against the world’s head, just like he’s done with each book so far.

 

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Tim Marquitz and the Demon Squad

[This is among my earliest book reviews. It is a bit raw and unrefined. I’ve kept this one to remind myself of how art grows and matures at a pace with the artist.]

 

The first Damnation Book I read was Tim Marquitz’s Demon Squad: Armageddon Bound. For the events of this review, I will refer to it as AB. The second book I read from Damnation Books was Tim Marquitz’s Demon Squad: Resurrection, which for this review I will call DSR. I am going to read the third one when it is released since I’ve enjoyed both books greatly.

I must give you a fair warning, this is dark fiction at its darkest. It is also dark humor at its funniest. If you are afraid of the dark, Tim’s book just might kill you.

How dark is dark? If your life ambition is to be more like Rick Warren, you might want to skip reading this one. But, if you think a succubus making out with a severed zombie-head is funny, these are the books you’ve been looking for.

I was in love with Tim’s idea by the time I’d read page 6 in AB. AB was a gruesome and gritty read from the very beginning. Neither of the stories gives the reader too many time outs, the action is always moving. Tim Marquitz weaves an action packed occult/fantasy tale with no comparison that I’ve yet read. I suspect as I read more of the Damnation Books there will be other daringly similar projects, but this tale is truly unique.

The premise of Tim’s idea is after eons of dispute at man’s expense, Lucifer and God call a truce. They leave the universe to another dimension to sort out their ills, but life here on earth continues as the status quo. The hierarchy of demons, without the strong rule of Lucifer, begins battling over who gets what.

Triggaltheron, or better known as ‘Frank,’ is a half-demon who resides on earth. He likes it here and he is content that Armageddon has been put on pause. He has even decided to help humanity by associating with a group of psychics, wizards, and a couple angels and other similar misfits that don’t want to see the world end or overrun with demons. They call themselves D.R.A.C. short for Demonic Resistance and Containment. Hence the name – Demon Squad.

But some angels from the Angelic Host – the servants of God– have gone mad in the absence of their loving creator. God’s last standing order before he left was to see to the end of the world. Hence the name – Armageddon Bound.

These stories are very fun as long as all the taboos that are broken don’t make you faint. Although some spots had me sweating bullets, I felt the story appealed to me personally. Tim has proven to have balls of steel in crossing as many lines of social acceptability as he did in writing AB, it compelled me to purchase the second book in the series which crossed even more lines than I thought even existed. It certainly stretched my imagination.

My only real complaint is DSR took a while to arrive from Amazon. I wonder if they had run out and needed to order more prints. That is good news for a writer, but sucks for the reader. When I got the book, I was saddened, the book was smaller. (Honestly, I think they figured out a way to fit more words on each page, because the story was packed.)

If you read AB, but you are an art snob, and didn’t think the quality of the writing in AB was good enough, there are evident advances in Tim’s storytelling ability in DSR. I didn’t think there were too many gaps in the first one; it was everything it promised to be – daring, violent, and dark. But the second one steps up to the next level, and I’d bet the third one will also be a little better than the second one.

The humor, which was great in the AB, is even better in DSR. Here was one of the spots in DSR that had me chuckling and telling my wife . . .

My life flashed before my eyes and I realized I was doomed. In brilliant colors, everything that ever meant anything to me ran across the screen of my mind. Not surprisingly, all I saw were boobs. Life had been good.” (page 74)

She wasn’t as impressed as me, but then, she isn’t quite as cultured in male priorities as some of us are. I would hope that before I die, like Frank, this could be my final revelation as well.