Billy Purgatory and the Curse of the Satanic Five — Jesse James Freeman
When we left off in Billy Purgatory: I Am the Devil Bird, the skateboarding namesake had hitched a ride with the Time Zombie that haunted Billy throughout the first book. In Billy Purgatory and the Curse of the Satanic Five, we initially follow a 10-year-old Billy, who is also holding on tightly to the Time Zombie. Although this may be disconcerting as it was an adult Billy we were following at the end of the first book, all is soon revealed. Well not all. In fact, author Jesse James Freeman continues to enthrall me with the complexity of the story he has woven about a skateboarding punk and his on again, off again relationship with the imperfectly evil vampire Anastasia.
At the start of book two, both adult Billy and 10-year-old Billy find themselves in an alternate dimension where his/their mother is alive and a member of the Satanic Five. Up until this point, the reader hasn’t gotten a good sense of who the mysterious “Five” are except that they were unable to finish marking Billy, who bears only half of their signature X down his face. Once the older Billy has whisked both him and his younger self back to their normal dimension, we learn the world has changed as a result of his time traveling stunts. Billy eventually hooks back up with Anastasia and the two set out on the run together looking for answers and evading all manner of evil that has it out for Billy.
Billy seems to have a humanizing effect on the green-eyed vampire, who in no way leaves behind her sarcasm and dark impulses. Her evolution from evil to only slightly evil with a side of ornery made me start to love her. Their growing relationship is complete with barbs, quick quips and a genuine love for one another, adding a well-executed offbeat romance to a story that is wholly unique. Meanwhile, the resident gypsy has hooked up with one of the members of the Satanic Five, allowing the reader to meet Moon, who also became one of my favorite characters. And I usually don’t like evil.
Undertones of Greek Mythology continue in book two with both Artemis and Medusa making appearances once again. At the end, the reader is left with a cliffhanger. And I still have so many questions, like what is going on? There’s nothing predictable here folks, so if you like to be kept guessing, these books may appeal to you. I’m sure I will not be able to resist reading the third installment, not only for the story but for the title of the book itself: Billy Purgatory: Tacos Before Armageddon. I think I might dial-up Freeman’s services to title my books and name my characters. He’s got a gift for storytelling. I just love the pictures he can paint with words, excluding his ability to create scenes so graphic they can make you shudder. Which I did. Definitely read the first book before reading the second, so don’t miss my previous review.