“Even the most degraded and ruined Prodigal is still closer to divinity than are any of us born of Adam’s flesh.” — Ginn Hale
And he was cast out onto the earth, and his angels were cast out with him… And they became the Prodigals, the least of these who were called from the depths of hell and now reside in Hells Below, a place where there is no dark and there is no light, keeping themselves to themselves to avoid the Inquisition and the prayer engines which torture and carve words of salvation into unholy flesh while dragging forth the confessions of the innocent who are guilty of little more than being who they were born to be.
Published in October 2007, Captain William Harper and Prodigal Belimai Sykes were introduced to the world and quickly went on to be the stars of the award winning novel Wicked Gentlemen, which is actually the compilation of two separate books—the first, “Mr. Sykes and the Firefly” told in the first person by Belimai himself; the second narrated in the third person and titled “Captain Harper and the Sixty Second Circle”. The first time I read this book, I recall mourning the loss of Belimai’s voice as narrator of the second book but the more I’ve read it, the more I’ve come to appreciate the brilliance with which Ginn Hale told these stories, transcending the jarring shift in points of view and delivering unique narratives that were equally provocative, verbally sensual and visually stunning.
If you have a love of storytelling that evokes and provokes and calls into being images of every scene, the smells and the sounds of a time and place somewhere in the distant past, of dark and dank and smoky bars, and sharing a bottle of gin:
“I held the shot glass up and watched the way the liquid distorted the image of Captain Harper’s face. There was something fascinating about the way it flawed his features. It only took a tiny shift, just a curve of glass, to ruin him.” – Belimai Sykes
then I can’t imagine you won’t find this book something akin to perfection.
Little did Belimai know at the time it would take far more than that to ruin Captain Harper, but oh, the journey to discovering all the ways in which Harper would sacrifice and bring himself to near ruin for his drug addicted demon lover is utterly gorgeous regardless of which angle one looks at it from.
There is so much to sink your mental chops into within the pages of this book. It’s not a stereotypical romance but it is a love story in which the words are never spoken but the actions speak volumes about the way these two men come to care for each other beyond the need for words. It’s not about what they say but about what they do–or are willing to do–that shows what they have come to mean to each other. Reading this book again was like revisiting a place that I’ve been before but can’t seem to recall the details of because in every shadow and darkened corner there’s something new to grab my attention each time I look.
Ginn Hale is the queen of speculative fiction and I worship at her feet. Okay, maybe not the queen (I haven’t read every author of speculative fiction, after all), and maybe not worship (it sort of is); it’s a very near thing. Her work is, simply put, stunning for its use of language to make real the places and characters she draws from her imagination and then illustrates for her readers to bask within the depths and breadths and multifaceted snarls of their lives and the worlds in which they live.