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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

What I'm Reading: Sabbath

Today I am featuring my review of Sabbath by Nick Mamatas. This novel is based upon the graphic novel Sabbath: All Your Sins Reborn created and written by Matt Tamao.

I was not sure what to expect when this arrived on my doorstep. I really like and respect Mamatas as a writer and I know his writing always has multiple layers, so I dove in with guarded expectations, and.... spoiler alert to my review below [not the book], I loved it!

Here is my draft [longer] review to be followed by a lot more appeal detail:


Mamatas, Nick (author).
Nov. 2019. 304p. Tor, $27.99 (9781250170118); e-book (9781250170101)
First published October 15, 2019 (Booklist).

Extreme horror and dark fantasy collide in this fun, cinematic, sardonic and violent play on the fish out of water story. Hexen Sabbath is an eleventh-century warrior, a man who sins and kills in the name of a Chirstian God; that is until he is yanked from death on the battlefield and slapped down in 21st Century Manhattan. As an angel of the Lord informs him, Sabbath has been saved from death and damnation for a reason though. The seven deadly sins have emerged, in human form, bent on ending the world in seven days, unless Sabbath finds and beheads them in time. What follows is an action packed adventure filled with sex, gore, and, the manefetation of sins piled upon sins, but it is the thought provoking and witty satire, some blantant, some more subtle, and all of it hitting uncomftably close to home, that allows this story to rise above its gritty and graphic details. Hexen Sabbath is a brute, he is boorish, but compared to those of us who call the 21st Century home, he is a softy. That realization is what will stay with readers long after they finish this dark, cautionary tale. A great choice for fans of the movie Seven, the graphic novel series Monstress, and especially, American Gods

Further Appeal: Let's get this out of the way first-- there is A LOT of sex and violence here, but, and this is very important, this is a book all about an ancient warrior having to violently destroy the physical manifestation of seven deadly sins in order to save the world from destruction. This is key because if the book wasn't explicit, the entire story would fall flat and feel fake. The seven deadly sins are accurately portrayed and described in the visceral way they should be. Destroying them cannot be easy for the book to work, and it is not.

However, this story is also a lot of fun. Sabbath, is a hero from his time, and yet, also for our time, as I explain in the review above. The fish out of water story is amusing and keeps you glued to the page, but then Mamatas expertly and slowly adds in the details that make us realize that Sabbath, while not a good guy, is not that much worse than the average 21st Century American. Talk about unsettling.

Expect action scene piled upon action scene in this dark fantasy-horror hybrid and an overall graphic novel sense of storytelling in prose form.

As you can tell from the review and these further appeal comments, everything about this book is so much more than you would expect at the start. Come for the adventure and action, but stay for the serious and uncomfortably close look at humanity today.

And finally, I loved the dedication; hilarious, hard truth, and sardonic, just like the book that follows.

Three Words That Describe This Book: explicit, thought provoking, satire

Readalikes: I mention three above, but I want to specifically mention the American Gods comp. Sabbath is shorter, with a faster pacing, and more violence than the Gaiman novel, but the feeling and overall message is very similar.

If you want another extreme horror title that would work for libraries and had a similar Christian religion frame [without being religious], try Jonathan Janz' Splatterpunk Award nominated, Exorcist Falls.

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