Book Review: Sabbath by Nick Mamatas

Title: Sabbath

Author: Nick Mamatas

Publisher: Tor Books

Publication Date: November 19, 2019

Genres: Horror

It was the promise of Highlander meets Seven that convinced me to give Sabbath a chance, but the truth is it’s less Highlander and more Terminator, Conan, and Masters of the Universe. This is a bold, brash, brutal, boisterous, blasphemous story (I’m running out of B’s) of a badass barbarian (there they are!) out of time. All of which is entirely fitting for the literary equivalent of an 80’s B-grade fantasy movie.

Hexen Sabbath, which is the one of the coolest names ever, is the badass hero who ain’t gonna die today . . . because his momma told him so. Argue with that! He’s lazy, lusty, and legendary (hmm, guess the well of L’s isn’t as deep as that of B’s), and more interested in fornification and fighting than faith (pretty sure alliteration is the 8th sin). Nick Mamatas nails the man-out-of-time trope, giving Hexen access to facts of the future, but making him fumble in finding them (damn, I’m most definitely doomed).

All kidding aside, this was a fun read that chews through deadly sins as quickly as Hexen does the scenery. As personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins go, Mamatas makes some easy choices here but some inspired ones as well. Sloth as a DMV-style office manager, whose staff patiently take a number an line up to be slaughtered. Lust is a massage parlor Dominatrix who really enjoys her job, tying Hexen up and suspending him from the ceiling. Wrath and Gluttony were pretty standard fare, a cage fighter and a restaurant owners, as is Greed, although there’s a nice twist there and a fantastically long-winded speech about how Greed really is good that’s actually quite seductive.

Envy may have been the best character in the book, next to Hexen of course, and certainly the one to engage his attention the longest – but I blame the Poodles for that. Pride is the big sin, the source and culmination of all others, and while it’s personification is a little too obvious – if you haven’t figured out that twist early on, you’re simply not paying attention – the Trump imitation is laugh-out-loud funny.

Sabbath is a book of sex, sin, sarcasm, seduction, swearing, sadism, and (sigh, here we go again) satire that races along so quickly, you don’t have time to question the few plot holes and unanswered questions. Thoroughly entertaining, with a perfect final twist ending that perverts the threat of preachiness.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀

My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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