King Bullet, the last book in the Sandman Slim series, is a pandemic baby, and you know it. It is steeped in isolation, anxiety, and the futile desire for simple answers in the face of complex problems. And it’s James Stark, so there’s violence, mayhem, hidden Hollywood, and heavenly hosts.
James Stark was sent to hell alive by his magician friends who were jealous of his powers. While there, he became Sandman Slim, the monster who kills monsters. Stark escaped from Hell to wreak vengeance on the magicians that sent him there, and caused the death of the girlfriend he left behind. Since then he’s almost destroyed the universe, but chose not to, become friendly-ish with one of the aspects of God, become Lucifer, quit being Lucifer, pissed off a lot of angels, died, come back to life, taken down a lot of really bad people, opened the gates of heaven to every soul, found the love of his life and lost her. He’s moved on from being the monster who kills monsters and has quit being anyone’s attack dog. But growth is hard because there will always be people who don’t want you to change.
The Sandman Slim series is at it’s best when Stark is in Los Angeles. Now Los Angeles is falling apart, the garbage is piling up, and the city is in danger of being over run by a madman and his gangs of henchmen. King Bullet knows who Sandman Slim is and wants to burn down everything Stark has ever loved. Stark wants to protect his people and his places, figure out his relationship with Janet, and find some peace. After forcing the machinery of the Universe to play fair, what antagonist could be worthy of Stark’s last outing? Kadrey goes Shakespearean. King Bullet gives a nice Saint Crispen’s Day speech.
” We few, we happy few, we band of horrors. For they today who shed their blood with me shall be my brothers, my sisters, my blessed beasts. Now. Go forth and make creation weep.”
King Bullet is the loneliest Stark has ever seemed. For all that he is surrounded by his friends, he is so aware of the impact that he has on the people around him. For the whole series, people have been telling Stark that what he does impacts others, and he has changed and evolved, sometimes reluctantly, and become someone who cares about the welfare of others, not just the people he loves. King Bullet weaponizes that care and punishes Stark with his own evolution.
Now that I’ve finished the series, I’ll be going back to the beginning and reading it all again. And when the audiobook is released, I’ll buy that and let MacLeod Andrews narrate Sandman Slim’s final chapter. Kadrey kind of maybe leaves the door open for more Stark.
I received this as an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My previous reviews: