Deadmen Walking, by Sherrilyn Kenyon, takes us through the 1700s Caribbean life, where the Pirates reigned the seven seas, and all manner of creatures (alive and dead) roam about plundering for spoils. The book opens up with a war torn and doomed pirate ship heading to the wreckage of Davy Jones’s locker. The battered crew escapes the wreckage, and the captain -as good ones do- goes down with his ill-fated ship.
Next, you meet a young woman seeking the help of the notorious pirate Devyl Bane, under the guise of a young man, to find her missing (presumed dead) brother. When Bane sees a trinket that is linked to the blood of the archangel Michael, he quickly sets about escorting Cameron Jack to his ship to render aid to her cause. At this juncture, you may be thinking that the main story is centered around young Cameron Jack, her quest to be reunited with her captured brother, and the pirate Devyl, however, in doing so, your ship has been sorely steered asunder by the crafty Kenyon.
Devlyn Bane and his cursed crew of Deadmen (Hellchasers) are a varied group of mermen, hell bound creatures and demons all brought back from their deaths by the enigmatic son of Lucifer, Thorn. Thorn and Bane have their own bloody and twisted history together, yet Thorn has assembled the crew from the depths of hell despite the “bad blood” between them. Thorn has agreed to give them each a chance to redeem their own souls by becoming crew members. The crew had all lead lives that were beyond redemption, but they all had something good as well they had done before their death. That one act of kindness, or compassion, earned them the right to prove they were worthy of redemption. If the crew of the ship can redeem their souls, they will have another chance at life. But to get their chance, they must keep the gates that protect the human world from the ancient monsters.
You learn that the vilest demon attempting escape is Vine, a particularly nasty creature, that Bane sold his soul to the devil to trap her in her hellish prison. Vine also happens to be Bane’s ex-wife. She is hell bent to see that Devyl gets his due.
Traversing the seas with his sister-in-law Marcelina (who is also the Sea Witch, the ship that they sail upon), Bane and the Deadmen fight to return the wayward demons to hell as well as keep Vine in her own dark prison. Centuries of being trapped in a hole in the world, Vine is not one to stay there quietly. Little does Bane know, Cameron Jack (with her bloodline coming from the archangel Michael) is exactly what Vine needs to crack open the gates and reign hell on earth. There is much tension between Bane and Marcelina, but then again their history is also bloody and dark.
The storyline was captivating, spellbinding, and fascinating. The characters heart wrenching, gut-punching, and maddening. The tone overall racked with humor, beauty, and with a fun spirit. Deadmen Walking is so elaborate, you are really sucked in and left wanting to know what will happen next.
FULL DISCLOSURE!!! This may not be for everyone. There is a lot of character play from many other of Kenyon’s novels and her different worlds that causes some bulking and what could be considered information overload. I kept in mind that this was the first novel in her new series, and some ground laying and history was needed. If you love a steamy love scene, a brawling bunch of pirates, angels and demons and people trying to escape from hell (wait, this sounds like a movie!), then this novel is for you! Overall, I rated this novel a 4 out of 5 stars, as once again, in my opinion, Kenyon has knocked it out of the universe.