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Waking Hell by Al Robertson. Book review.


Leila Fenech is a fetch (a dead person who has been reincarnated as a virtual ‘living’ entity). When her brother becomes terminally ill, he makes a deal to ensure they will never want for money. It is a deal that is too good to be true, because Deiter will never get to enjoy it. When Deiter dies his soul is not downloaded so he can be turned into a fetch. Leila will never see him again.

Suspecting foul play Leila uses the money to start an investigation of her own, once the authorities mysteriously close the case after refusing to investigate it properly. The problem is Leila’s going to get involved in a whole lot more than she bargained for.

The plot in Waking Hell is certainly complex, but for those who’ve already read the remarkable Crashing Heaven and is orientated with this strange universe of the world of Station (an asteroid in space above what was the Earth) it does help. But Waking Hell can be read as a standalone novel.

It begins as a detective story and develops into Leila becoming increasingly entwined in some world changing politics, because the station gods are as manipulative as ever and, as usual, always wanting their slice of the action.

To Leila the world is very black and white. There is right and there is wrong. She loathes injustice. This directness could spell disaster. Having been very dependent on her brother until now means Leila has a lot of developing to do. But she is not without help, sometimes from most unexpected quarters. She is also the kind of person who is intelligent, full of life (even though she effectively lives a virtual existence). She is a quick learner where the politics of the station gods are concerned and has the drive to see things through to the bitter end.

Leila is also the continuous thread that keeps the story on track and understandable for the reader. Her will and determination, driven by her love for her brother, is what also makes you want to follow Waking Hell through to its conclusion.

Waking Hell is certainly a worthy follow on from Crashing Heaven and the use of new characters, as well as a few of the old ones, means Station can be explored from an interesting new perspective.

Waking Hell was courtesy of Gollancz via NetGalley.