The Agent of Hel Trilogy
by Jacqueline Carey
“Agent of Hel” is a trilogy about a half-human, half-demon woman named Daisy, whose heritage earned her the job of liaison between the human world and the supernatural kingdom. It’s a job that gets particularly complicated when citizens start showing up dead by supernatural causes…
Jacqueline Carey is one of my top authors, specifically for her “Kushiel’s” and “Imriel’s” Trilogies (which contain some of the best writing I’ve ever read, although I’d recommend it with a strong disclaimer of sexual content… particularly of the S&M variety). I’ve come to love her for her rich character development, expansive world/culture building, beautiful love stories, and epic storytelling. Many of these elements you don’t normally see within urban fantasies, whose storylines typically revolve around mystery, action, and instant gratification. As you can imagine, after reading Carey’s epic fantasies, I was intrigued to see how she would tackle a new genre.
And the verdict? “Agent of Hel” was anything but typical… And I really dug it.
My favorite things about this series were the world building and quirky cast of characters. Both of which I thought were developed expansively enough to merit more than just a trilogy. Carey’s supernatural world was one of the most conceptual and well-imagined of any I’ve ever read. Everything from creature creation to the political hierarchy went one or two steps above what I would consider necessary for a good urban fantasy. It was a lot of fun. Carey’s characters also had a lot of depth and backstory, but there wasn’t enough time within such a short series to explore them all thoroughly. I wanted more, which is more or less a positive way to finish a series. I don’t think Carey has any plans to write more, but one can dream.
Anyway, despite the series ending before I was ready for it to, “Agent of Hel” had great pacing that kept me engaged from start to finish. It had a nice balance of action, mystery, romance, and humor, which are ingredients for an awesome read.
As with many urban fantasies, “Agent of Hel” contained a prominent romance – one which I thought did a good job of balancing the action without overwhelming the plot. As with everything else, the love story was a bit atypical. For starters, it wasn’t always clear who the love interest was supposed to be. Also, the romantic story arc didn’t follow the usual formula. Both were things I actually liked about the series and, at the risk of sounding redundant, I also found myself craving another book to keep it going by the time the series ended. I should clarify that my slight dissatisfaction was because I was really enjoying what I was reading and wanted more, but Carey did do a nice job wrapping up her plot points with clear resolutions.
Overall, I’d rank “Agent of Hel” as one of the better urban fantasies and would recommend it to anyone familiar with the genre. Fair warning though, the series contains sexual content.