Title: Pride’s Spell: A Sin du Jour Affair
Author: Matt Wallace (Twitter)
Rating: So Freaking Highly Recommended
Genre/Category: Urban Fantasy, Demons & Angels, Food, Hollywood
Release Date: June 21, 2016
Note: I received an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of this book from the publisher (but I have also preordered ebook and audio versions of the book because I CAN). All opinions and thoughts expressed, however drunkenly or poorly, in this review are my own. There are also a TON of spoilers for the upcoming book so if that’s not your thing, come back after June 21st when you’ve read the book!
Note the Second: There’s an extra spoilery audio review/excited rant posted embedded into this review at the bottom because I realize now that drunk!reviewing lends towards really disjointed reviews because my attention span gets borked. The audio review will hopefully be even more coherent!
I’m halfway through a bottle of Verdi Spumante (a sparkling wine that makes me giggle every time I say its name), I’ve got three fancy butter cookies left, and oh yes, an ARC of the awesome Matt Wallace’s upcoming book Pride’s Spell waiting for me to read and do my usual semi-drunken review.
Life is good. Well… for me at least.
Things don’t look so hot for the staff of Sin du Jour or their head chef for much of the book. The book opens with Bronko in HELL. Yes, that Hell. The place (or one of the places) where bad things happen to people who may also be bad.
(The jury’s still out on what Bronko did to earn a place in hell, but I’m assuming it was something terrible considering what happens to him while he’s there… Hopefully, this is something we’ll find out in later Sin du Jour books BECAUSE THAT’S ACTUALLY A THING WE’RE GETTING BY THE WAY, MORE GLORIOUS SIN DU JOUR FROM MATT THANKS TO TOR!)
By now, we’ve all read the Sin du Jour short story Small Wars. (And if you haven’t, pause reading this review and go read that instead. It’s free on Tor.com!)
This means that we’re all in agreement about one thing: that’s a fucked up story and I can’t believe that Moon’s go-to response to “small things are attacking me” was to eat them. In the four months since reading that short story repeatedly and making all of the faces at Moon’s everything, I kind of wondered how Matt would top that in terms of sheer grossness.
I’ve got to admit that the part in the extended prologue where Bronko’s in Hell and the meat he’s set to prepare for his audience of manikins is his own dead body is pretty high up there. Because it’s not just that cannibalism is frowned upon by most cultures for various valid reasons, but there’s the lead in to the scene and how it gets repeated several times throughout the book, each time going a little further until Bronko actually cuts into his/the body –
That scene gave me those full body shivers where you look absolutely ridiculous to any uninitiated observers lying around because it was so darn squicky.
I’m not sure, but the extended prologue parts throughout the book where we got to see Bronko in hell, might actually be the grossest parts in all of Pride’s Spell. I mean there’s a part (and you’ll know it when you read it) where I was cringing because okay – Matt’s writing?
It’s amazing, full of rich and vivid descriptions.
Which is fantastic when you’re reading about food you wish you could eat… Not so fantastic when you’re picturing [incredibly spoilery graphic act of violence] while working your way through your wine. (I mean, except that reading Matt’s writing is basically always going to be my idea of a good time and more than worth the minor squick.)
Okay, next, I want to talk about the Darren and Lena stuff.
One of the things that I’ve loved about the Sin du Jour series so far is how realistic the characters and their relationships are. Darren and Lena’s long-lasting friendship is one of my favorite relationships, but in Pride’s Spell it certainly takes one hell of a beating.
In Lustlocked, Lena and the asshole sous chef Dorsky hooked up under the influence of their “fuck, flee, or fight” response during the lust lizard mess. Apparently, that’s still a thing. Somehow.
And Darren didn’t know about it.
So in the interest of trying to protect his best friend from being sex-shamed due to essentially sleeping with one of their bosses Darren… Well he sticks his foot all the way in his mouth and it doesn’t go very well. I mean… at all.
I think that if not for the climax of the book (and okay, I kept typing the word “film” here despite telling myself otherwise) their friendship might have been irreparably damaged because I mean – the things they say to each other are really mean. I was upset on their behalves.
And Dorsky really isn’t worth it.
I mean at all.
You know who is worth it though? Ritter.
Yeah, I went there. I’m absolutely making this about my OTP even though I keep telling myself that I won’t do that because it’s weird.
Look, from book freaking one, I knew that I either wanted Lena to be with me (an impossibility) or Ritter. And it was so freaking clear that they were starting to have all those important ~feelings~ for each other that would hopefully end in them boning a lot and then dating.
I made such a high-pitched noise back when I was first reading Lustlocked and Lena and Dorsky were about to bone. And it was not a happy high-pitched noise at all because Dorsky is a dick. He was a dick to Lena when they first met (remember how he tried to hurt her after their knife fight?) and yeah, he’s not an uberdick right now, but I have made up my mind to dislike him and so I shall continue to dislike him until the ends of time.
Ritter, on the other hand, is this super nuanced and seriously likeable character. He’s been amazing since his first appearance where he’s fighting off the giant mama mantis that’s trying to kick their butts over the loss of her eggs to the time where he showed up butt ass naked and covered in magic sigils specifically because he wanted to save Lena from the lust lizards.
If you’re not rooting for Lena and Ritter to get together, I don’t think we can be friends.
#LenaXRitter4Ever – (But more on that later. For real this time.)
Now I want to talk about the Sin du Jour stuff. The action in Pride’s Spell is split between the team in Hollywood and the home team back in the restaurant and I’m going to be honest, the home team has some of the actual best moments.
One of the best parts in Pride’s Spell was the whole “Ritter and co fight the False Idols” stuff.
Not just because of how badass the actual fight scenes and strategy for Ritter, Cindy, and Hara were, but because we got to find out some more about them as characters. There were small things (like Cindy’s designer clothes closet) and big things (like um… the fact that the home Ritter lives in now is legit the first real home he ever had –and also how Ritter and his brother were part of Allensworth’s super shady Witchcraft Enforcement Team).
I’ve got to admit that the rooftop battle against Santa Claus and assorted giant reindeer was kind of epic. I mean at one point, Hara (who’s fast becoming a fave) freaking grapples with one of those reindeer as it tries to bite everyone with its ridiculous pointy teeth. Don’t even get me started on what they do to the Santa from Hell (literally y’all).
If the Sin du Jour series is ever made into a comic or a glossy HBO series, that death will be one of the grossest. And it’s not even something we actually see on-screen. But it couldn’t have been pretty.
Nothing described as “nightmare fuel” could be.
(But seriously, what a great fight scene!!!)
The Hollywood stuff is also really great. It’s sad that I can absolutely believe in the idea of Hollywood as a feeding ground for these gross old gods (demons?) that those awful producers fling screenwriters and catering staff at.
Ugh. They sucked so hard.
When those assholes got their just desserts, I freaking cheered because I swear that if Bronko hadn’t handled it, I would’ve found a way to do it. I tend not to celebrate deaths in fiction unless they’re for a character that’s especially heinous, but this was something else. I mean, in this world, Hollywood (which is already incredibly toxic and metaphorically feeds on marginalized and desperate people) is a community where the people on top are kept satisfied by regular actual offerings of you know… people.
Trust me, I did so much celebrating at the climax of this novella. SO MUCH!
And okay, now it’s time for me to talk about my OTP. Again.
You know why?
BECAUSE THEY’RE FUCKING CANON, Y’ALL~ (Or at the very least, they’re going to have a lot of sex before they officially start dating and I become an even happier Stitch.) At the very end of Pride’s Spell, just when you’re finally claming down and everything’s winding down, Ritter shows up at Lena’s hotel room.
And okay –
Look. It’s not even content that takes up a full page. It’s half a page at most. And yet I made such a noise when I read the last four or five lines of the book. I am still making those noises. Why? Because my Sin du Jour OTP is CANON!
I am going to be obnoxiously giddy about this for like a decade, I swear. Because while neither character is perfect (something that adds a welcome realism to their characters), they get each other so well. Both characters have dealt with the trauma of warfare overseas and are still dealing with it. I know that by the next book they could well hate each other (though I doubt that’s the angle we’re aiming at), but I just want to know more/everything about them possibly being in a relationship.
Okay so I’ve just realized that this is a bit um… long as far as rambling semi-drunken reviews go, so I’m going to cut things short. If you want to hear more about my thoughts on Pride’s Spell and how much I adore Matt Wallace’s writing, you should check out the embedded soundcloud file below because it’s ridiculous and I yell a lot about my OTP and mispronounce everything.
But seriously: Every single novella that comes out of the Sin du Jour series is my new fave (until the next one is released). I honestly can’t get enough of this freaking series and I feel as though it’s a series that needs to end up on everyone’s “To Be Read” lists. And if you like hilarious characters, beloved figures of your childhood dying horrible deaths, and gorgeous ladies (and Ritter) saving the day at various points, please check Pride’s Spell out.
And then go get the rest of the books in the series (and preorder everything else Matt writes, mkay?)