Pettersson throws us straight into the action - leaving us to work out the universe as Joanna does. It is a complicated one too, as we have zero frame of reference to go on. Put simply, this series is about a war between two superhero factions: the forces of Light and Shadow. Their battles are depicted in comic form after the fact, then sold to humans as fiction.
Had I understood this before starting, I likely wouldn't have continued. While I appreciate the whole superhero thing, it just wouldn't have enticed me enough to read it. But boy, would I have been wrong. Vicki Pettersson is a brutal writer. The blood, the sex, the cruelty just seeps out of the novel, unabashed and unashamed - much like Vegas itself. The setting is more than ideal for the horror of the novel, in fact, it might not have worked set anywhere else.
Joanna is a tortured heroine - for a change - and is damaged beyond belief. It makes her both tough and endearing, an odd combination to say the least. Considering the horror Pettersson subjects her to, you will be as surprised as I am that she does not spend the entire book in tears.
The action is brilliantly described, the writing nearly flawless, and the universe-building is gratifyingly natural. Joanna's troupe is made up of very complex, unique characters - each with a story of their own. It's a refined book, if one can say such a thing about horror, and a definite must - especially for those of you hoping to try something a bit new.