Before I start, I should say that Anthony is a friend of mine. So when reading this review, you should keep in mind that on one shoulder I have an angel telling me to encourage people to support my friend’s book, and on the other, I have a demon, stabbing me with jealousy that he has his book out there, and mine is still languishing on my PC. As I wrestle with my angels and demons, let’s talk about The Devil’s Playbook by Anthony Le Sueur.
This is an urban fantasy set in modern day London. It is by turns funny and dark, revolving around the ancient conflict between angels and demons. Of late, the demons are winning, and the Devil is worried. He suspects something is wrong, but needs to provoke a reaction to prove it, so sets out to break the covenant that exists between the factions. He recruits Andy, a blogger, to write stories that technically break the rules in increasingly blatant ways. Can the Devil get a response from God, and will it be in time to combat the threat which is targeting both sides?
Says the demon on my shoulder… The Devil’s Playbook is very much a debut novel, and it has its flaws. The opening reads like someone sat down to do NaNoWriMo, had no idea how to start, and just wrote what they could see in front of them. Certain major plot points are discarded on characters that have only just been introduced and we have no attachment to. At times, the effort ground the novel in real London, wanders into the realms of a London guidebook and “places I know”.
But, the angel is quick to point out, there is a lot to recommend in this book. There are two main protagonists, the blogger, Andy, and the Devil. Both are likable and well written. The world that Andy is drawn into is interesting, and the demons he meets are a memorable bunch. The mythology Le Sueur builds is interesting, and in fact I would like to see it developed further.
Best of all, the true villain of the piece is terrifying and creepy. Throughout the book, we see short interludes of him working in the background against both the angels and the demons. These scenes are tense, well written, and on more than one occasion, more than a bit upsetting.
The Devil’s Playbook then, is not perfect by any means, and I found the early section before it found its feet a bit of a slog. But once you can get past that, it is well worth the effort, and if you like urban fantasy with interesting mythology and memorable characters, I recommend The Devil’s Playbook to you.
As for a star rating… four stars feels perhaps a little high… but three stars is definitely too low. Can I give 3.8? What the heck, this is my blog, 3.8 stars.
I’ve just made a mockery of my own star rating.