In the House of the Wicked is the fifth installment in the Remy Chandler series by New York Times bestselling author, Thomas Sniegoski.
Remy Chandler, a Boston-based private investigator, isn’t your typical private eye; while he wears the guise of a human, he is actually much more: a fallen angel. Once known as Remiel of the Heavenly Host Seraphim, Remy left Heaven of his own accord after witnessing the destruction and bloodshed of Lucifer Morningstar’s war with the Almighty. He became curious about God’s favorite creation and decided to spend time on Earth discovering, learning. Falling in love.
Now, after his wife has passed away, Remy has averted the apocalypse of the Four Horsemen, faced the Morningstar in Tartarus, prevented another god from claiming enough power to change the world, and gone up against a corrupted Malachi in an attempt to save the Garden of Eden. During this time, Remy kept his angelic and human natures apart, allowing him to hide his true identity. But both of Remy’s natures are now sharing the same space, and Remy can feel himself becoming more and more volatile despite all of his efforts to control it.
To make matters worse, Ashley Berg, his longtime dog sitter who is like a daughter to him, has been kidnapped by a once-formidable sorcerer. This sorcerer wants his revenge upon those who wronged him in the past, and he is determined to use Remy as his instrument of revenge… and if Remy doesn’t play along, Ashley will die.
Due to some of the circumstances within In the House of the Wicked, Remy is unable to use his angelic powers for the majority of the novel. It makes for a very different read than the previous four novels in the series. It’s a change of pace that throws the already-long odds into the realm of nigh-impossibility, all the while making Remy’s actions more believable than at almost any other point in the series. It also forces Remy to slow down and think before he acts. Since he cannot summon up the Seraphim to just batter through all of his problems, Remy has to play a sneakier, smarter game than ever before. And that is most definitely a welcome change of pace to the series.
Upping the ante
While Sniegoski gave us a hint of the underlying plotlines of the series in book four, A Hundred Words For Hate, this is the first Remy book where details from all of the previous novels really begin fitting together. And quite frankly, it scares me. I fear for the well-being of Remy and those around him. The world looks like it’s going to get much, much worse before it gets better.
And that’s awesome.
Sniegoski does some fantastic foreshadowing for these plotlines throughout the novel. Some of it comes from Francis (a mercenary angel also living among humanity), some from Remy himself, and yet some more from the Grigori (those cast out of Heaven by God for teaching humanity dark secrets). But the real kicker comes in the epilogue of the novel. If you’ve seen Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, it was very much akin to the first post-credits scene. If you haven’t, let’s just say that many of the events can be theorized to have been manipulated by an off-screen character. And the implications of that are breathtaking. I cannot wait to see how Sniegoski plays it in future novels.
That’s quite the character you got there…
Remy himself is one of my favorite urban fantasy protagonists and one of my favorite characters of all time. He gets a lot of time to reflect in this novel: about how he wants to live his life now that his wife has passed away; how to balance the dueling natures inside of him; how to help his friends cope with the realization that there is more out there than humanity knows. His relationship with his Labrador, Marlowe, is heart-wrenching and wonderful. It’s gut-wrenching, too—to watch Remy, unable to draw upon his angelic abilities‚ deal with the realization that he can no longer communicate with Marlowe. The scene brought tears to my eyes.
On top of Remy and Marlowe, the supporting cast gets a lot of screen time. Francis, Ashley, and Detective Steven Mulvehill all find new things within themselves. Francis has to deal with working under a new employer—which has some definite perks, he will admit. I look forward to seeing how being set against his best friend in the future will affect him‚ because Francis isn’t particularly known for his compassion and morals. Ashley gets tossed headfirst into Remy’s world, under what is most definitely not the best of circumstances. She shows the whole variety of human reaction to her situation, ranging from panic and denial to eventual calm levelheadedness. Mulvehill, after the events of A Hundred Words for Hate, isn’t talking to Remy; he’s still in denial about everything that happened and hopes that by ignoring things, they will just go away. However, when something puts Boston, and likely the entire world, at risk, Mulvehill goes out to help instead of hiding. Seeing him take that leap was refreshing, and I hope it means that his friendship with Remy can—and will—be mended in future novels.
We’re also introduced to one hell of a new character during the course of In the House of the Wicked: a hobgoblin by the name of Squire who currently resides in the shadow realm. Squire is one of those “retired good guy” characters who has convinced himself of the uselessness of being a hero, and is resolutely telling himself that he’s only looking out for Number One. However, as events progress, we see him come to grips with the fact that he misses fighting the good fight, and he ends up getting involved and helping Remy out in a number of ways. I really hope we see him again—and I think we will, as that much development time usually isn’t spent on a throwaway character.
Why should you read this book?
If you’ve read and liked the first four installments in this series, you won’t be disappointed. Sniegoski ups his game in this most recent Remy adventure, and we begin to see some of the grand scheme he is setting up for us. The conflict and situations within this novel are refreshingly personal, bringing the forefront of activity back to the Boston area. The characters are varied and very well-developed, bringing life and humanity into this novel largely centered around the angelic pantheon. With In the House of the Wicked, Sniegoski has crafted a very powerful, very personal tale that is equal parts gut-wrenching, heart-warming, and awe-inspiring. In short, it is definitely my favorite Remy Chandler novel to date.
Garrett received a review copy of this book courtesy of Ace/Roc.