The Drood family has always specialized in thwarting deranged maniacal magic-using megalomaniacs who want to take over the world.
But what can they do about an organized "Anti-Drood" organization that is as old as they are, and has spies in their ranks? Simon R. Green tackles that weighty idea in "From Hell With Love," his fourth Secret Histories novel -- a sometimes confusing tangle of magical battles, shapeshifters, spies and impending world destruction.
First off, Eddie is sent to L.A. to stop the small-time villain Dr. Delirium at a magical auction... only to have Delirium make off with the aptly-named Apocalypse Door. And after he returns back to the Droods' vast mansion, the Matriarch is brutally murdered in her bed, throwing the Droods into mass confusion and chaos -- as well as a berserker rage that causes them to attack Molly.
Eddie suspects that the mysterious Immortals -- an ancient clan who have served as the "anti-Droods" throughout history -- are behind it all, but the Drood Library is suspiciously devoid of information on then. The Immortals have slipped "flesh-dancing" spies into the Droods' ranks, and plan to destroy the Droods and harness the Door's power... unless Eddie destroys them first.
We have Springheel Jack, a woman immortalized by endless waking, a talking dragon head, the Spawn of Frankenstein and a Droodlike family of immortal sociopaths. Yeah, this is definitely a Simon R. Green book. But "From Hell With Love" is a darker story than the previous Secret Histories novels -- especially since the Droods suffer the biggest losses we've seen yet.
And Green packs the entire book with a harrowing string of gruesome battles that leave countless Droods dead or wounded, as well as a bleak sense of paranoia over what spies have wormed their way into "the family." His writing is tight and colorful, and his usual sense of humor is in place (Eddie deals with a legendary, unkillable dragon by... grabbing the inside of its tail and pulling it inside out. EW).
And Eddie has a rougher time in this book than he has since the first book of this series -- the Droods still regard him with scorn and suspicion, and he seems to have lost the person closest to his heart. Green also fleshes out the Armourer by revealing more about his personal life, and the sacrifices he has made for the Droods; and we also get the cruel Immortals, who are the dark twins of the Droods.
The downside? A couple of plot threads are left dangling (Roger's trip to Hell), and Green himself leaves us dangling with a hair-ripping, finger-gnawing cliffhanger. Oh come on, I suffered through an almost identical cliffhanger once this year already!
Simon R. Green splashes his Secret Histories series with a healthy dose of blood, mayhem and paranoia in "From Hell With Love".... but honestly, that cliffhanger is just cruel!