Dominion by Peter McLean
Before we begin a word of dire warning. Dominion is a direct sequel to Drake. If you haven’t read book one in this series then there is a good chance that this review may continue something akin to minor spoiler. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
In the tunnels deep under London, the Earth elementals are dying. Hunted by something they know only as the Rotman, the elementals have no one trustworthy they can turn to.
Enter Don Drake, diabolist and semi-reformed hitman, and an almost-fallen angel called Trixie. When the Matriarch tells Don that Rotman is actually the archdemon Bianakith, he knows this is going to be a tough job.
Bianakith is the foretold spirit of disease and decay whose aura corrupts everything it comes near, and even the ancient foundations of London will crumble eventually. Now Don, Trixie and the Burned Man have to hatch a plan to keep Bianakith from wiping out the elementals and bringing down the city.
But the Burned Man has other plans, and those may have dire consequences for everyone.
The past never stays buried, and old sins must be atoned for. Judgement is coming, and its name is Dominion.
At the beginning of the year I read Drake by Peter McLean. If you are looking for a novel that perfectly straddles the line between dark urban fantasy and horror, then I would suggest you give it a go. Recently, I discovered that a sequel has been unleashed upon the world. I’ll admit I was more than a little intrigued.
In book two, Don Drake returns and his life is more complicated than ever. He is still living the slightly shabby existence he was before, but his roommates are causing him no end of grief. The only ones on Don’s side are Trixie, an almost fallen angel who is falling further by the minute, and the Burned Man, a powerful demon controlled by Don. The relationships that Don has with these two larger-than-life beings is what drives this novel forward. He is utterly besotted and terrified of Trixie in equal measure. Don doesn’t know which way to turn, and Trixie never makes it easy. Meanwhile the Burned Man continues to be convivial enough to his master. Underneath all the foul language and inappropriate suggestions, he appears happy to do Don’s bidding. That said, you get the feeling that the Burned Man is playing the long game. He comes across like a confined predator, constantly testing the bars of his cage, always looking for some way to escape.
On top of these complex living arrangements there are a whole host of demons, lords of Hell, angels, voodoo priests and ancient cross dimensional beings that want a piece of our erstwhile hero. Who can Don trust when he can hardly even trust his partners? The list appears to be getting shorter by the second.
I love Don Drake; he is such a huge mess as a human being. You can almost guarantee that if there is an incorrect decision to be made that’ll be the one he chooses. It makes his life consistently interesting. His heart is in the right place, good intentions and all that, but he has some properly questionable judgement. In Dominion, Mr Drake makes the biggest mistake of his entire career and watching how he tries to remedy this monumental cock-up is fascinating. This epic faux pas is going to have some serious consequences. I can’t wait to see how this is going to change his life long term. The status quo has been well and truly shifted.
Peter McLean’s vision of London continues to be a rare treat. We get to see the dark underbelly of the city, literally and metaphorically as it turns out. The denizens of McLean’s city are a suitably grubby bunch and they’re all great fun. It makes sense the Don Drake lives in a version of London that perfectly matches his downbeat character. Dilapidated old style boozers and dingy private member’s clubs are most definitely Don’s territory.
A word of warning for the delicate amongst you. The Burned Man continues to be a foul-mouthed creature and in all honesty, Don isn’t that far behind. If adult language makes you blush, then I rather suspect this book might not be for you. Personally, I loved it. I keep The Eloquent Page free from swears but I like nothing better than the odd expletive or two. People that know me in the real world can confirm this to be true.
In a nutshell then, Dominion has absolutely everything I am looking for in a good sequel. The main characters continue to evolve and the universe they inhabit grows with them. The plot whips along a cracking pace and there are enough twists and turns to keep any reader more than happy. I haven’t even gotten around to mentioning the gnomes. Yes, there are gnomes. Just go with it, trust me. You can thank me later.
Dominion is published by Angry Robot and is available now. I heartily recommend this book and its predecessor. Don, Trixie and the Burned Man will return next May with the release of book three, Damnation. I can’t wait. I want to read it immediately.