Hexed: The Sisters of Witchdown contains everything you’d expect to find in a horror novel. There’s a haunted house, a spellbook bound in human flesh, numerous pocket universes, black magic, one sexy witch, several ugly witches, demonic possession, a couple of exorcisms, grave digging, and reanimation. There’s even a character named Lucifer.
And yet, none of it is spooky in any way. Michael Alan Nelson’s novel is more in line with sunnier fare such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Wynonna Earp, and iZombie. The adventures of Luci Jenifer Inacio Das Neves (Lucifer for short) began in the funny pages and her prose debut exists as a happy hybrid of comic book and urban fantasy high jinks.
Things like this really hit our hexerei hot spot. Nelson’s comic book series debuted in 2008 and introduced the world to a bunch of eccentric and willful ladies, including Lucifer (our hero), art dealer Val Brisendine, Raina (the intern), CEO of Graeae Industries Madame Cymbaline, and the Harlot (otherwise known as the Keeper of Secrets). Over the years their intertwining lives have become too big and complicated to be contained in a mere comic book. A prose novel was inevitable.
At the center of it all is young Lucifer. No matter what people think, she’s not a devil, a sorceress, a witch, or a paranormal PI. She’s not even a normal teenage girl. She’s a thief from the slums of Brazil who traffics in magical trinkets and totems. “I keep bad things out of the hands of bad people,” she says. And that basically sums up her job description for the past eight years.
Nelson’s novel revisits the early days of his scrappy heroine. Sort of. We get introduced to Lucifer and all of her friends and foes. But the story has been tousled to provide a fresh remix. This time Lucifer is hired to rescue a high school girl being held captive in a pocket universe of death and witchery. There’s even a whiff of romance in the air. That’s substantially different than how the comic book series started. Lucifer doesn’t even meet her benefactor Val Brisendine until late in the game.
But no matter. Lucifer survives the retcon because she’s a remarkable hero and an indefatigable firecracker. She’s like Buffy Summers and Sydney Bristow (from Alias) with the fighting spirit of an Amazon warrior princess. Because of one early misadventure, she bears the mark of the Keeper of Secrets on her right shoulder (for continuity wonks, the mark appears on her left shoulder in the comics). As a result, her life has become “one giant carnival of magic-covered suck.” That’s bad news for her, but good news for the rest of us.
[Hexed: The Sisters of Witchdown / By Michael Alan Nelson / First Printing: May 2015 / ISBN: 9781633880566]