The Devil's Guide to Managing Difficult People by Robyn Bennis
No spoilers (Promise)
Those of you who have been following this blog for a while may recognize the name Robyn Bennis, from the two Signal Airship novels I reviewed (here and here), as well as the interview I did with her here. She's a pretty new author, in that she only has these three books out so far and has been in the game a handful of years.
Of course, I've also only been getting published for the last handful of years, and none of my published works are novels. So, we're pretty much in the same boat, there.
The Signal Airship books are enjoyable for a variety of reasons, and they're hard sci-fi/steampunk military dramas. The Devil's Guide is a huge departure, with Bennis deciding to try her hand at paranormal comedy. Where Signal Airship is a drama with a thread of comedy, Devil's Guide is a comedy with a thread of drama. (Well, more like two or three threads, but you get the general idea.) But while some authors would be completely unable to pull it off, Bennis does a pretty damn good job. Despite the fact that the Devil gives absolutely no instructions on how to manage difficult people.
Jordan has basically lost her passion for life. She's kind of depressed, bored, honestly only looking forward to trying to date a guy that she's pretty sure is a spy (this suspicion is neither confirmed nor denied in the book, which I found kind of funny but also kind of disappointing, because that could have been a pretty good joke, like if he did work for a spy agency but was their accountant, or something). In short, she's leading a fairly unpleasant existence before Dee shows up. And Dee...kind of makes it worse.
Oh, who am I kidding. Dee makes her hide a body within twenty-four hours of meeting her.
In the name of making her life easier, of course.
Each character is unique and goofy in their own way: Jordan has a dark sense of humor to deal with past trauma, her friend Gabby has a soup lawyer (that is, a lawyer who specializes in cases revolving around soup), and Dee is Dee. And they each have their own conflicts. Jordan's is sorting out her conflicted feelings for her late, abusive mother, a task that she would prefer to reschedule for the month of never, which Dee is not having.
It's a page-turner, in part because it's such a fast pace, and in part because the situation gets so bad so quickly that you just have to know how it ends. It's like when a friend is telling a really funny story about the most embarrassing moment of their lives. You kind of don't want to know, but you have to.
Normally I don't read comedies. But I'm glad I read this one. It's not as good as Signal Airship; Bennis set herself a pretty high bar with that one, and if asked whether I wanted her to write another comedy or write a third Signal Airship book, the answer would be a very solid "option B, please." But if you're looking for lighter read, something that will make you laugh at every other page and put your life in perspective, then I do recommend The Devil's Guide to Managing Difficult People.
The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!