The Spawn of Lilith, by Dana Fredsti
Excellent premise, with a world filled with memorable characters.
A narrative leap of four weeks, mostly I suspect for pacing, left me wanting to know more of what happened during that time.
Officially launched last week, The Spawn of Lilith is Dana Fredsti’s latest urban-fantasy/horror novel, a new series following her Ashley Parker novels (which was described as “Buffy with zombies, but different.”)
The Spawn of Lilith is a new setting for Fredsti, and thus a great jumping-on point for readers. The novel is set in Hollywood, but one we rarely see. This is not the glamorous after-show parties and glitzy balls of the Oscars, but the grungy make-do world of b-movies, struggling actors and fading stars.
Oh, and did I mention there were demons, succubae and other supernatural creatures? In this version of Hollywood, there is an underground world of mystical creatures that exist alongside the human world, who work together to create incredible special effects that really do make you think someone could fly.
The main character is Lee Striga, a stuntwoman raised by one of the best stunt teams in this version of Hollywood, the Katz Stunt Crew. Recently injured in a stunt gone wrong, Lee finds herself sidelined with the Katz as she recuperates and needing to find work fast. Then a friend recommends Lee to a new producer, and hilarity ensues…
Existing fans will find there is a lot to love about The Spawn of Lilith, as it shares many elements of Fredsti’s writing; namely a kick-ass female protagonist, dozens of geek references (including Big Trouble in Little China) and a liberal sprinkling of humour. For all the similarities, this is nonetheless a fresh direction for Fredsti and you can feel her flexing her writing muscles.
The Spawn of Lilith is structurally an origin tale, but without a drawn-out exposition establishing the character’s background before telling the story. The story and background come together in a final arc that feels like a cross between The Thing and Pitchblack.
One aspect that I really liked about The Spawn of Lilith was Fredsti’s gritty presentation of the world she has created. Fredsti’s background in stunt-work comes to the fore, bringing a sense of verisimilitude to her writing: this is a world where stunt-people take pride in their job, one that people get hurt and die in and where people in the movie industry find themselves filling multiple roles.
I would have liked to have seen further Interactions between the normal and supernatural worlds, to see what barriers – if any – existed between the two and how they were enforced. I would also have liked to have seen more of Lee’s reaction to this revelation.
There was a four-week leap in the plot, which I would have liked to have seen more of Lee’s activities during that time. However, I imagine it was cut for pacing.
Despite Fredsti having a massive love of zombies, it was surprising to find there none here. Instead, we have whole new supernatural social-system here, one populated with antagonists as compelling as the protagonists.