If you enjoy alternative, sometimes darkly humorous takes on heaven and hell and the supernatural beings who inhabit those realms, you’re sure to find one or more of these books to your liking:
Good Omens - Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $6.83)
There is a distinct hint of Armageddon in the air. According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (recorded, thankfully, in 1655, before she blew up her entire village and all its inhabitants, who had gathered to watch her burn), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse are revving up their mighty hogs and hitting the road, and the world’s last two remaining witch-finders are getting ready to fight the good fight, armed with awkwardly antiquated instructions and stick pins. Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. . . . Right. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan.
Except that a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon — each of whom has lived among Earth’s mortals for many millennia and has grown rather fond of the lifestyle — are not particularly looking forward to the coming Rapture. If Crowley and Aziraphale are going to stop it from happening, they’ve got to find and kill the Antichrist (which is a shame, as he’s a really nice kid). There’s just one glitch: someone seems to have misplaced him. . . .
First published in 1990, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s brilliantly dark and screamingly funny take on humankind’s final judgment is back — and just in time — in a new hardcover edition (which includes an introduction by the authors, comments by each about the other, and answers to some still-burning questions about their wildly popular collaborative effort) that the devout and the damned alike will surely cherish until the end of all things.
Bobby Dollar is an angel—a real one. He knows a lot about sin, and not just in his professional capacity as an advocate for souls caught between Heaven and Hell. Bobby’s wrestling with a few deadly sins of his own—pride, anger, even lust.
But his problems aren’t all his fault. Bobby can’t entirely trust his heavenly superiors, and he’s not too sure about any of his fellow earthbound angels either, especially the new kid that Heaven has dropped into their midst, a trainee angel who asks too many questions. And he sure as hell doesn’t trust the achingly gorgeous Countess of Cold Hands, a mysterious she-demon who seems to be the only one willing to tell him the truth. When the souls of the recently departed start disappearing, catching both Heaven and Hell by surprise, things get bad very quickly for Bobby D. End-of-the-world bad. Beast of Revelations bad.
Caught between the angry forces of Hell, the dangerous strategies of his own side, and a monstrous undead avenger that wants to rip his head off and suck out his soul, Bobby’s going to need all the friends he can get—in Heaven, on Earth, or anywhere else he can find them. You’ve never met an angel like Bobby Dollar. And you’ve never read anything like The Dirty Streets of Heaven.
Brace yourself—the afterlife is weirder than you ever believed.
‘Twas the night (okay, more like the week) before Christmas, and all through the tiny community of Pine Cove, California, people are busy buying, wrapping, packing, and generally getting into the holiday spirit.
But not everybody is feeling the joy. Little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a holiday miracle. No, he’s not on his deathbed; no, his dog hasn’t run away from home. But Josh is sure that he saw Santa take a shovel to the head, and now the seven-year-old has only one prayer: Please, Santa, come back from the dead.
But hold on! There’s an angel waiting in the wings. (Wings, get it?) It’s none other than the Archangel Raziel come to Earth seeking a small child with a wish that needs granting. Unfortunately, our angel’s not sporting the brightest halo in the bunch, and before you can say “Kris Kringle,” he’s botched his sacred mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove headlong into Christmas chaos, culminating in the most hilarious and horrifying holiday party the town has ever seen.
Move over, Charles Dickens — it’s Christopher Moore time.
Mercury Falls – Robert Kroese (4/5 stars, currently priced at $4.99)
While on assignment in Utah, Christine Temetri isn’t surprised when yet another prophesied Apocalypse fails to occur. After three years of reporting on End Times cults for a religious news magazine, Christine is seriously questioning her career choice. But then she meets Mercury, a cult leader whose knowledge of the impending Apocalypse is decidedly more solid than most: he is an angel, sent from heaven to prepare for the Second Coming but distracted by beer, ping pong, and other earthly delights.
After Christine and Mercury inadvertently save Karl Grissom—a film-school dropout and the newly appointed Antichrist—from assassination, she realizes the three of them are all that stand in the way of mankind’s utter annihilation. They are a motley crew compared to the heavenly host bent on earth’s destruction, but Christine figures they’ll just have to do. Full of memorable characters, Mercury Falls is an absurdly funny tale about unlikely heroes on a quest to save the world.
Sandman Slim – Richard Kadrey (4/5 stars, currently priced at $8.00)
From Publisher’s Weekly:
Kadrey (Butcher Bird) provides biting humor, an over-the-top antihero and a rich stew of metaphoric language in this testosterone- and adrenaline-charged noir thriller.
James Stark spent 11 years killing monsters in Lucifer’s arena for the entertainment of fallen angels, but now he’s back in seedy, magic-riddled L.A., trying to avenge his girlfriend’s murder and hunt down Mason Faim, the black magician responsible for getting him sent downtown.
RealmShift – Alan Baxter (4/5 stars, currently priced at $3.99)
Isiah is having a tough time. The Devil is making his job very difficult.
Samuel Harrigan is a murdering lowlife. He used ancient blood magic to escape a deal with the Devil and now he’s on the trail of a crystal skull that he believes will complete his efforts to evade Lucifer. But Lucifer wants Samuel’s soul for eternity and refuses to wait a second longer for it. Isiah needs Samuel to keep looking for the crystal skull, so he has to protect Sam and keep the Devil at bay. Not for Samuel’s sake, but for all of humanity.
RealmShift is an engrossing Dark Fantasy thriller; a fascinating exploration of the nature of people’s beliefs and their effect on the world around them. Magic, action and intrigue, from dank city streets to the depths of Hell and beyond.
“…a gripping, thought-provoking tale that evokes a strong response within the reader, both on an emotional and an intellectual level. It is a dark fantasy that takes the reader on both an adventure-filled ride, but also a spiritual exploration…. If you like your speculative fiction a little on the dark side, RealmShift is for you.”
David Wood, author of Quest and Cibola
“A fast-paced storyline that holds the reader right from the start … nifty devices galore, from RealmShift to the Balance … and a no-nonsense story-telling approach that lets the unfolding action speak for itself.”
Van Ikin, editor- Science Fiction
The very first Hellblazer collection ORIGINAL SINS is available in a new edition that includes John Constantine’s appearances in SWAMP THING. This is the first of a series of new HELLBLAZER editions starring Vertigo’s longest running antihero, John Constantine, England’s chain-smoking, low-rent magus. This first collection is a loosely connected series of tales of John’s early years where Constantine was at his best and at his worst, all at the same time.
One Amazon reviewer says:
This new version of the Original Sins TPB includes the first 9 issue of Hellblazer from 1988 along with issues #76-77 of the Swamp Thing. The first nine issues of Hellblazer involve a man named John Constantine who plays a role between heaven and hell and keeps the people safe from their literal demons all while being shunned from those of a higher, heavenly authority.
The first issues involve Constantine helping an old friend who ended up releasing a demon named Mnemoth who makes people develop a voracious appetite for that which they covet and they eventually starve from it. Constantine is forced to use his contacts and find the evil beast plaguing the people and coax it right into a trap!
Later, after thwarting a bit of demon politics, he meets a woman named Zed who becomes quite the love interest, all the while helping him find a lost girl in a sickening kidnapping and then, after heading to the States to check on his old buddy Swamp Thing, encounters a man from `Nam that is still haunted by the mental wounds of war that envelop him. Constantine, hot on the trail of a religious sect, learn that he’s not the only one who wants Zed and figures out that the cult has taken her and is using her as a “virgin Mary” of sorts and it’s up to him to get her out of her predicament!