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The Pale House Devil

The Pale House Devil by Richard Kadrey

The Pale House Devil by Richard Kadrey

Titan Books, pb, £10.99

Reviewed by Sarah Deeming

The front cover for The Pale House Devil by Richard Kadrey. The cover is red. In the middle there is a large back house with a tower. There are two people standing in the doorway. One is completely white with his left leg crossed and his left arm leaning on the shoulder on the other figure. The Other figure is straight and his head is black. Behind the house is a yellow light and red tentacles can be seen coming out from around the house.

Ford and Neuland are guns for hire, mercenaries for the gangs, but when a job goes bad in New York, they head west until things cool down. On the way, they meet Tilda Rosenbloom, a woman tasked with hiring people with their expertise because Ford and Neuland are different to other mercenaries; they’re paranormal mercenaries. Tilda takes them to a mansion in the remotest northern corner California has to offer, the Pale House, claiming a devil lives inside, and her employer, the wealthy recluse Shepherd Mansfield, will pay them handsomely if they remove the devil. But Ford and Neuland aren’t stupid; they know the devil didn’t turn up in that house by itself. The real mystery is who summoned the devil in the first place and why.

Voice is one of the quickest ways to draw me into a book, and The Pale House Devil has a strong voice that packs an immediate punch. Ford and Neuland are colleagues who have worked together for a number of years and have developed a unique style of speaking to each other. This well-mannered banter was an immediate hook for me, making their characters burst off the pages.

The second draw for me was the world set-up. The front cover shows white outlines of two men, one completely white and the other with a black head, Ford and Neuland. The difference between the two, the black head, signifies that Neuland is undead. He passes for human. When Tilda first meets them, she doesn’t realise he’s undead, but he actually died a long time ago and spent a certain amount of time as a thrall in the Deep South. The story has flashbacks to Neuland’s previous undead life, giving the reader the context needed to explain the undead, and I appreciated those insights. There are rules for the paranormal aspect that Ford and Neuland have to abide by, and both have their vulnerabilities regardless of whether they are alive or dead.

The Pale House Devil is definitely a novella rather than a full-fledged book, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s a prequel for a new series from Richard Kadrey and Titan Books, and, as a fan of the Anita Blake books by Laurell K. Hamilton and Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series, I am really excited about this prospect.

While not a long book, The Pale House Devil delivers a fantastic set-up for what I hope is a new series of paranormal investigators worthy of your time. Highly recommended.

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