Review: Hell For Hire by Rachel Aaron

Hell For Hire by Rachel Aaron

Jen reviews Hell For Hire, the first book in Rachel Aaron‘s Urban Fantasy series, Tear Down Heaven.

An eARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book
Series:Tear Down Heaven #1
Genre:Urban Fantasy
Publisher:Self-Published
Date of Publishing:June 3, 2024
Trigger Warnings:violence, gore, bodily injury
Page count:350
Book Blurb
Hell For Hire by Rachel Aaron

The Crew
A hulked-out wrath demon who eats gamer rage and loves cats, a shapeshifting lust demon who enjoys their food a bit too much, and a void demon who doesn’t see the point of any of this. They’re not the sort of mercenaries you’d hire on purpose, but Bex wouldn’t trust her life to anyone else.

Ever since the ancient Mesopotamian king Gilgamesh decided death wasn’t for him, killed the gods, and conquered the afterlife, times have been rough for a free demon. But the denizens of the Nine Hells aren’t the quitting sort, and Bex and her team have been choking a living out of the Eternal King’s lackeys for years. It’s not honest work, but when Heaven itself declares you a non-person, you smash-and-grab what you can get.

This next gig looks like more of the same…until Bex meets the client.

The Job
Adrian Blackwood is a witch with a problem. His family has skirted the edges of King Gilgamesh’s ire for centuries, but thanks to a decision he made as a child, Adrian is personally responsible for putting his entire coven in Heaven’s crosshairs.

Determined to set things right, Adrian drags his broom, caldron, and talking cat thousands of miles across the country to Seattle where he can fight the Eternal King’s warlocks without bringing the rest of his family into the fray. But witchcraft–like all crafts–takes time, and if the warlocks catch him before his spells are ready, he’s dead. So Adrian does what any professional witch would do and hires a team of mercenaries to keep the warlocks off his back. He didn’t expect to get demons, but when you’re already on the killing-edge of Heaven’s bad side, what’s a bit more fuel on the fire?

Sometimes you get more than you paid for.
Neither Adrian nor Bex knew what to expect when they signed their contract, but witch-plus-demon turns out to be a match made in the Hells. With this much chaos at their fingertips, even impossible dreams can come back into reach, because Bex wasn’t always a mercenary. She used to be the Eternal King’s biggest nightmare, and now that she’s got a witch in her corner, it’s time to put the old magics back on the field and show Adrian Blackwood just how much Hell he’s hired.

A new, action-packed Urban Fantasy from the author of NICE DRAGONS FINISH LAST and MINIMUM-WAGE MAGIC!

Quote of the Book
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“A live human heart. It contracted as Bex watched, the dark-red muscles pumping in the deep, regular motion of a heartbeat. It didn’t look bloody or wet. It was just a heart beating in Adrian’s hands as he removed it from the box and began to bury it in the ground.

The hush got deeper with every handful of dirt he scooped over it, and then a pulse began to run through the soil under Bex’s boots. The sound got louder and louder as Adrian filled in the hole he’d just made. By the time he stood up to press the dirt flat with his boots, the whole hill was pounding with the beating of the heart.”

Song of the Book

Hope by Shinedown

Review

Rachel Aaron has been on my to-read list for simply ages! I’ve heard great things about her books and I’ve had my sights on a couple of her past series, the Legend of Eli Monpress, and also the Heartstriker (Nice Dragons Finish Last, which has been in my reader since 2019).

Part of that delay in checking out her work outside of having a mountain of a TBR, is that I don’t get into the Urban Fantasy side of the fantasy shelves very often these days. I was really looking forward to Hell for Hire, for the change of pace – something different, and fun, to break up the epic and dark fantasy I tend to lean towards, and to finally get a chance to check out Rachel’s works.

And what an incredibly fun story Hell for Hire turned out to be!

I do like UF with stories being based in “our world” for doing some of the heavy lifting in the world-building department; giving characters more space to shine. I was expecting a light read with a little window-dressing and the usual motley collection of characters. But there was way more than just window dressing here. Hell for Hire is a very well-thought-out merging of world and lores.

After conquering the Nine Hells, King Gilgamesh took over Paradise and made the demons slaves.

Ok so, I don’t know about you all but my knowledge of Mesopotamian mythology fits in a Stargate-shaped thimble, along with a hodge-podge of other stuff that I can’t possibly unravel from each other anymore. But no problem, because this was some smooth and accessible world-building and the pace never lags! There is just the right amount of fighting, cool lore, and locations. Combine all that with an endearing cast of characters – I can understand why Rachel’s stories have gained such popularity.
 
The cast is just so fun and quirky.


I really loved Bex and Adrian and the supporting characters on each side. Each of them brought something a little different to the table; whether it be a bit of humour, action, or story support – they round the world out and allow for growth where it’s needed.

Rebeca – Bex and her team are free demons living and travelling in their tricked-out RV staying under the radar as best they can to avoid the wrong sort of attention. They do jobs to get by and one of those jobs happens to be Adrian. Beca is just awesome – she’s tough, while still being personable, vulnerable, and warm. I really love that found family trope to pieces, and whenever we get a group of misfits together, that rely on and trust each with their lives, I’m just a happy reader.

The whole team is a hoot but my favourite of them was Nemeni. She’s a real downer. Her Eeyore personality is sparingly used, almost like a running gag, but holy crap did she made me laugh.

Adrian – he plans to start his own Witchwood in Pacific Northwest, he wants to break free from his family’s coven and has hired Bex and team, to protect him until his forest is far enough along to protect himself. Adrian was just adorable. I loved everything about him and his familiar/cat and the grumpy broom. I, for some reason, had this mental image of him as a tuxedo mask.

I really loved all the stuff to do with him and building his grove, especially the whole part of the heart of the forest.

I can’t go into details because of spoilers but one thing I really enjoyed was how Bex and Adrian both had a part to play, with moments to shine in the end, and it never felt too easy. I also liked that it was a clear hopeful ending that left room for a series without feeling like we’d lose out by not continuing on – I appreciated the feeling of completeness.

TLDR:

Hell for Hire is smart, fun, and addicting. My first Rachel Aaron book and definitely won’t be my last!

Our Judgement
They Shall Be Remembered - 4.5 Crowns

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