Aftermath by Tim Marquitz

Rating 9.5/10
Aftermath is a fantastic Demon Squad novel.

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Aftermath by Tim Marquitz is the ninth book in the Demon Squad series, one that sees the main character Frank reach his nadir before slowly climbing out of the pits of a drug and alcohol fuelled depression. It's amazing to think that after nine books the Demon Squad series feels as fresh as ever, and with the events of Aftermath busting the Demon Squad universe wide open, the possibilities for future stories seems almost endless. Nine books into this series and I feel like we have only scratched the surface of the Tim Marquitz Master Plan.

"Like GI Jesus I spread my arms out to both sides and capped the bastards as I whipped past"

Blasphemy is back, and so is Frank, not that he had much of a choice. The story kicks off some months after the events of Collateral Damage, Frank drowning his sorrows with a cocktail of drugs and alcohol in a backwards Louisiana town that nobody would care if it was wiped off the map. Unluckily for Frank, somebody decides to wipe that backwards Louisiana town off the map care of a nuclear weapon, forcing Frank to confront his demons, re-evaluate his life, and reconnect with the people who care about him for some strange reason. The stakes are high, the weapons are of the mass-destruction type, and the end-game has the potential to change the universe forever.

Aftermath is a much lighter book than Collateral Damage, a book that focuses on self-recovery as a counterpoint to all the self-destruction that happened in Collateral Damage. While Frank reaches rock-bottom at the start of Aftermath, he spends the rest of the book trying to be better, and by the end he finishes in a position of strength, ready to face the promise of some daunting challenges in future books. Good ol' Frank from book one may be gone forever, but Aftermath shows that the essence of his character is still strong. Frank is still a sexual deviant, but he is a refined, tempered and measured sexual deviant, one that you might enjoy with a few bottles of wine as opposed to a few bottles of lube.

While the Demon Squad stories have angels and demons, fights with religious icons, and even aliens, the basis for the series has always been deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian mythology and mysticism. Without spoiling anything, Aftermath changes all of that, introducing a whole pantheon of familiar gods who want their own piece of Heaven, Hell and Earth. In just a handful of chapters Marquitz busts his universe wide open, doing so in a way that makes you think he must have planned this from the start, and in a way that finally reveals the true context driving the decisions of the books more mysterious characters. I am excited to see where Marquitz takes the series next.

A couple of other reviewers have suggested that Aftermath might be a good place for new readers to jump in if they haven't read a Demon Squad book before, and for the most part I agree with that thinking. The previous book (Collateral Damage) tied up a lot of loose ends and brought to an end some big multi-book arcs, and Aftermath represents the beginning of a new direction for the Demon Squad series, so this is as good a place to jump on as any. But, there is a lot of information and a lot of long running jokes that have their genesis in the previous eight books, so jumping into Aftermath with no previous Demon Squad knowledge will likely make for some confusing moments when reading the book. You can jump in now and have a good time, but your reading will be enhanced if you have read the previous books.

Aftermath is a fantastic Demon Squad novel, one that tells a compelling self contained story while also acting as set-up for the next half dozen books in the series. While it didn't have the emotional gut punches from the first book, it still made me laugh and laugh, and that's one of the main reasons why I read Demon Squad and Tim Marquitz books - to laugh.

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