Echoes of the Past by Tim Marquitz
Review by Ryan Lawler
Absence makes the heart grow fonder? Not when you’re the Devil’s nephew.
An unexpected message gives Frank the answer he’s sought for years – where did God and Lucifer go? – but the knowledge brings its own dilemma as inter-dimensional war looms, threatening to engulf the Earth. Tasked with the planet’s defence, Frank scrounges for a plan and finds a piece of his past better left behind. If the aliens don’t kill him, what he learns just might.
This review talks about some big events from the first three books, and I would recommend that you read those three before starting Echoes of the Past.
There are many words I could use to describe Tim Marquitz, from creative wellspring through to twisted and disturbed. But one word starting to stand out is prolific – Echoes of the Past is after all the fourth book in the Demon Squad series and has come out mere months after the release of At The Gates. So strap on your helmets people, it is time to enter the mind of Marquitz and follow the demonic Frank Triggaltheron in his latest adventure, digging up his past so that he can save the future.
The story is set just after the events of At The Gates with Frank deep into recovery mode after waking up the Metatron and saving Heaven from an onslaught of nephilim and werebeasts. As you can probably guess, Frank has barely had time to warm the cushions when the first of many assaults come - those werebeasts that Frank screwed over during the whole of the last book are looking for some good old fashioned payback, the Department of Supernatural Investigation have been given clearance to deal with Frank as they see fit, and a new demon with a penchant for summoning storybook creatures has decided to tear up the place. Things are looking pretty bad but here comes the kicker, those weird metal guys from the last book have a message from Lucifer – he needs Frank to start preparing the Earth for inter-dimensional war. That means delving into history that Frank would have preferred remain a mystery. Echoes of the Past is a book of revelations where we really get to see what makes Frank tick. Don’t worry, there is plenty of sex, violence and guilty pleasures to indulge yourself in throughout the book, but these sequences are definitely subdued so that the revelations can take centre stage. Want to know where God and Lucifer went all those years ago? Want to know what all those demons saw in Frank’s human mother? Want to know how and why Frank killed his father? You get it all, plus a bit more that you didn’t bargain for. Marquitz readily provides the answers to all these questions because he knows that for every mystery that is paid off, two more are created. Damn you Marquitz!!!
The characters we know and love are all back, but they play much more of a secondary role to Frank’s story than they have before. This is a real bummer for me because I am really quite fond of those other characters, but this book is not about them and to have too much of them would be to distract from the main story. We get to go deep into the twisted mind of Frank this time around, and it’s not exactly pretty. He is one messed up guy, he has had a very hard life, and you get much more an appreciation of how hard he fights every day to stay in control of his demonic nature. It’s weird, but by really demonising Frank throughout this book, Marquitz has made him seem even more human. Marquitz jests that Frank is a very simple guy whose life is based around consumption of the basic urges, but behind all those layers lies a very complex person, and it is the act of peeling away those layers just to get a glimpse at the inner Frank that makes these books so appealing.
In terms of writing, this book follows the Demon Squad trend of being better written than its predecessors. The prose is much more clean and crisp, the overt sexualism has been dialled back just a touch, and all of this has been done without sacrificing any of Frank’s personality. This book is slower that the previous instalments, it is less driven by action, there is no clear indication of where this book is going, but it still manages to work quite well. I would consider this book more of a palette cleanser when compared to the three previous volumes, one that is preparing you for what is yet to come. That is probably my only real gripe with this book, that everything is written with an eye on the future instalments, but introducing us to a whole new side of the Demon Squad universe is a huge undertaking and I am really glad that Marquitz decided to take his time and introduce it over the space of a couple of books rather than trying to cram everything in all at once.
I said that Echoes of the Past is a book of revelations, but as I write this review I am realising this is more a book of transition. There are significant shifts in plot, character, and setting, and I am very exciting in the new directions Marquitz is taking the series. But in saying that, at the very core this is very much a Demon Squad book with all the charm, humour, and sex that you come to expect from this series. This is not quite my favourite Demon Squad book, but with so many awesome revelations and a big cliff-hanger at the end, my anticipation for the next Demon Squad book could not be any higher.
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