Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Due to circumstances completely within his control, Shax, the Demon Prince of Thieves has fled, er, emigrated from Earth to seek his fortunes out in the galaxy. With his faithful friend, Verin, by his side, they acquire a gently used ship with a drag-queen AI.
Hell for the Company: Brimstone 1
Everything’s going just fine, thank you very much. All right, the anti-gravity cows are a bit problematic and some of Shax’s buyers are bad for his health, but he manages until he comes across an injured angel in a psychedelic alien jungle.
Fear of Frogs: Brimstone 2
While Shax recovers from a near fatality, his shipmates have taken the initiative and found them a lucrative cargo run. Shax is horrified to find out what sort of cargo. Unfortunately, he’ll soon discover that a healthy fear of frogs doesn’t prevent frog-driven disasters.
Shax’s War: Brimstone 3
The boys desperately need a vacation. With the not-quite-ill-gotten gains from the Frog incident, Shax takes the Brimstone’s crew to the exclusive resort planet, Opal. What could possibly go wrong?
I met Captain Shax and his demon friend… childhood buddy…what have you, Verin, in their Brimstone prequel, Potato Surprise. That wildly told tale gave us the particulars as to how they fled Earth and demon family (sort of), how they got their hands on the hastily renamed ship Brimstone with its lively IA Ivanna and took to space on all sorts of misadventures. It had bawdy humor, lots of hot sex, wildly imaginative beings and some unexpected angst. And I loved it.
So of course I searched immediately for more. And found Brimstone: Demon Owned & Operated (Brimstone #1-3) by Angel Martinez, three Brimstone stories in one from Mischief Corner Press. I was overjoyed and plowed right into the novels eager to see where Shax, Verin and the Brimstone went next. It was quite the journey, a little slow at times, but that last story, Shax’s War? That’s the one that kept me up thinking and so thrilled that I read this collection. That’s a 5 star slam bang right there but I’m getting ahead of myself and the Brimstone crew.
Putting all three stories under one title actually makes a huge amount of sense because of one element that runs through each story. At the start of the first story, its just Shax, Verin, and the IA Ivanna, in the mid-sized spacecraft renamed Brimstone. When Shax and Verin fled from his demon Uncle (plotting a new war with Heaven), they left everything behind, including his minions which he kind of loved (not that he would admit it), their palace, family (not that they liked them mind), and just everything. Now its just the two…er, three of them, alone in space. And sometimes they’ve found that a very lonely proposition.
In each new story, one of the main plot threads is that a new member or members of the crew comes on board and becomes family, replacing the one that Shax and Verin fled/left behind. How I loved that aspect of this story. Its subtle and I can’t believe I just said that where one story has pages of frog sex. And it shows how much heart these tales have (even if one has the hearts being ripped out of the bodies…you are warned).
Hell for the Company: Brimstone 1. Rating: 3.25 stars.
I liked this story. Two words make it kind of magical. Floating cows. Five make it hilarious. Cow pies from the sky. Its also where Shax meets his fallen angel lover, Ness. I was slow to warm up to Ness, both as a companion to Shax and as a member of the crew of the Brimstone. By book three, I had forgotten I ever had those thoughts, but here in Hell for the Company, they are large and looming. I can’t figure out why, could be I’m just not a fan of angels but this is my least favorite story.
Fear of Frogs: Brimstone 2. Rating: 4.25 stars
Fear of frogs, frog sex. All hilarious. Put your emotions in guffaw mode here. What is the one thing the Demon Prince is afraid of? Yep, that would be frogs. I won’t spoil how Shax and the frogs come into contact but its a doozy as are the after effects. Because they lead us directly to the next, last and my favorite story of them all, Shax’s War. And yes, another compadre is added to the Brimstone when Verin finds love.
Shax’s War: Brimstone 3. Rating: 5 stars
Parts of this story are downright gruesome, unexpectedly so given all the other stories that have come before. I thought there would be some humor, and there is. Some lovely thoughtful moments and wild hijinks, all that’s here too. But some of the painful stuff? No, I didn’t expect to read elements of that here. But there is also a reason for its inclusion. Up until now, we’ve seen several sides of Shax. The one that loves his “pretties”, the thoughtful one, the loyal one, and so one. But never this one.
“You think I’m a nice, civilized demon, don’t you? Fussy, arrogant, unwilling to get my hands dirty.”
That was Shax about to prove to a villain that the opposite of that was true, that he is the Demon Prince after all, something we haven’t seen up until now. There are multiple points of view, a wild chase, nefarious goings on, more than a few stomach churning scenes (don’t worry, the worst of it happens “off stage”), more action and suspense than anyone could hope for and get. Plus a lot of demon sex, which includes bdsm scenes (spreaders, you name it). Shax’s War is one wild ride.
At the end, Shax has a crew of beings the like of which is quite wonderful, well on their way to being family. Shax and Verin each have found their long term loves and Ivanna is happy. Life is pretty darn wonderful on the Brimstone. I wonderful what next adventure is coming for them.
I love this crew and their stories. I highly recommend them all. I believe Potato Surprise is free at Mischief Corner Books. Check them all out now.
Cover art by Freddy McKay. I like the cover, even if that’s not my idea of Shax. Where’s all that gorgeous auburn hair?
300 pages, ebook, paperback and Kindle editions
Published July 25th 2014 by Mischief Corner Books, LLC (first published March 28th 2014)