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To Hell and Back (Dante Valentine Series #5)

To Hell and Back (Dante Valentine Series #5)

4.1 61
by Lilith Saintcrow

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The pulse-pounding finale to Lilith Saintcrow's urban fantasy series featuring Dante Valentine.

Dante Valentine has been through Hell. Literally. Her body shattered and her mind not far behind, she's dumped back into her own world to survive--or not--as a pawn in one of Lucifer's endless games.

Unfortunately, he's just messed with the wrong


The pulse-pounding finale to Lilith Saintcrow's urban fantasy series featuring Dante Valentine.

Dante Valentine has been through Hell. Literally. Her body shattered and her mind not far behind, she's dumped back into her own world to survive--or not--as a pawn in one of Lucifer's endless games.

Unfortunately, he's just messed with the wrong Necromance. And this time she's mad enough to do something about it.

This time, the Devil will pay.

Dante Valentine Novels
Working for the Devil
Dead Man Rising
Devil's Right Hand
Saint City Sinners
To Hell and Back

Dante Valentine (omnibus)
For more from Lilith Saintcrow, check out:
Gallow and Ragged
Trailer Park Fae
Bannon and Clare
The Iron Wyrm Affair
The Red Plague Affair
The Ripper Affair
The Damnation Affair (e-only)
Jill Kismet Novels
Night Shift
Hunter's Prayer
Redemption Alley
Flesh Circus
Heaven's Spite
Angel Town

Jill Kismet (omnibus)
A Romance of Arquitaine Novels
The Hedgewitch Queen
The Bandit King
Blood Call (coming August 2015)

Editorial Reviews

Dante Valentine doesn't pretend to nice. As a necromancer for hire and bounty hunter, she has to be tough as nails just to survive. In her fifth fictional incarnation, she fixes her demonic energies on the Devil himself. Hellishly good.

Product Details

Publication date:
Dante Valentine Series , #5
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Sales rank:
File size:
856 KB

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Read an Excerpt

To Hell and Back

By Lilith Saintcrow


Copyright © 2008 Lilith Saintcrow
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-316-00177-9

Chapter One

Darkness closed velvet over me, broken only by the flame of a scar burning, burning, against my shoulder. I do not know how I wrenched myself free, I only know that I did, before the last and worst could be done to me.

But not soon enough.

I heard myself scream, one last cry that shattered into pieces before I escaped to the only place left to me, welcome unconsciousness.

As I fell.

Cold. Wherever I was, it was cold. Hardness underneath me. I heard a low buzzing sound and passed out again, sliding away from consciousness like a marble on a reactive-greased slope. The buzzing followed, became a horde of angry bees inside my head, a deep and awful rattling whirr shaking my teeth loose, splitting my bones with hot lead.

I moaned.

The buzzing faded, receding bit by bit like waves sliding away from a rocky shore. I moaned again, rolled over. My cheek pressed chill hardness. Tears trickled hot out of my eyes. My shields shivered, rent and useless, a flooding tide of sensation and thought from the outside world roaring through my brain as I convulsed, instinct pulling my tissue-thin defenses together, drowning in the current. Where was I?

I had no prayers left.

Even if I'd had one, there would be no answer. The ultimate lesson of a life spent on the edge of Power and violence-when the chips are down, sunshine, you're on your own.

Slowly, so slowly, I regained my balance. A flood of human thought smashed rank and foul against my broken shields, roaring through my head, and I pushed it away with a supreme effort, trying to think. I made my eyes open. Dark shapes swirled, coalesced. I heard more, a low noise of crowds and hovertraffic, formless, splashing like the sea. Felt a tingle and trickle of Power against my skin.

Oh, gods. Remind me not to do that again. Whatever it was. The thought sounded like me, the tough, rational, practical me, over a deep screaming well of panic. What happened to me?

Am I hungover?

That made me laugh. It was unsteady, hitching, tired hilarity edged with broken glass, but I welcomed it. If I was laughing, I was okay.

Not really. I would never be okay again. My mind shuddered, flinching away from ... something. Something terrible. Something I could not think about if I wanted to keep the fragile barrier between myself and a screaming tide of insanity.

I pushed it away. Wrestled it into a dark corner and closed the door.

That made it possible to think a little more clearly.

I blinked. Shapes became recognizable, the stink of dying human cells filling my nose again. Wet warmth trickled down my cheeks, painted my upper lip. I tasted spoiled fruit and sweetness when I licked my lips.

Blood. I had a face covered in blood, and my clothes were no better than rags, if I retained them at all. My bag clinked as I shifted, its broken strap reknotted and rasping between my breasts. I blinked more blood out of my eyes, stared up at a brick wall. It was night, and the wall loomed at a crazy angle because I lay twisted like a rag doll, pretty-much-naked against the floor of an alley.

Alley. I'm in an alley. From the way it smells, it's not a nice one either. Trust me to end up like this.

It was a sane thought, one I clung to even as I shivered and jolted, my entire body rebelling against the psychic assault of so many minds shoving against me, a surfroar of screaming voices. Not just my body but my mind mutinied, bucking like a runaway horse as the something returned, huge and foul, boiling up through layers of shock. Beating at the door I had locked against it.

Oh gods, please. Someone please. Anyone. Help me.

I moaned, the sound bouncing off bricks, and the mark on my shoulder suddenly blazed with soft heat, welling out through my aching body. I hurt everywhere, as if I'd been torn apart and put back together wrong. The worst hurt was a deep drilling ache low in the bowl of my pelvis, like the world's worst menstrual cramp.

I could not think about that. My entire soul rose in rebellion. I could not remember what had been done to me.

The rips in my shields bound themselves together, tissue-thin, but still able to keep me sane. The scar pulsed, crying out like a beacon, a flaming black-diamond fountain tearing into the ambient Power of the cityscape. The first flare knocked me flat against the ground again, stunned and dazed. Successive pulses arrived, each working in a little deeper than the last, but not so jolting.

Breathe. Just breathe. I clung to the thought, shutting my eyes as the world reeled under me. I made it up to hands and knees, my palms against slick greasy concrete as I retched. I don't usually throw up unless poisoned, but I felt awful close.

Too bad there was nothing in my stomach. I curled over on myself, retched some more, and decided I felt better.

The mark kept pulsing, like a slow heartbeat. Japhrimel's pulse is slower than mine, one beat to every three my own heart performs, like a strong silt-laden river through a broad channel. It felt uncomfortably like his heartbeat had settled in the scar on my shoulder, as if I was resting my head on his chest and hearing his old, slow, strong heart against my cheek and fingertips.

Japhrimel. I remembered him, at least. Even if I couldn't remember myself.

I cursed, in my head and aloud as I found the other brick wall confining this alley. Drove my claws into the wall, my arm quivering under the strain as I hauled myself to my feet. I couldn't afford to call on him. He was an enemy.

They were all my enemies. Everyone. Every single fucking thing that breathed, or walked, or even touched me. Even the air.

Even my own mind.

Safe place. Got to find a safe place. I could have laughed at the thought. I didn't even know where I was.

Not only that, but where on earth was safe for me now? I could barely even remember who I was. Valentine.

A name returned to me. My name. My fingers crept up and touched a familiar wire of heat at my collarbone-the necklace, silver-dipped raccoon baculum and bloodmarked bloodstones, its potent force spent and at low ebb. I knew who wore this jewelry.

I am Valentine. Danny Valentine. I'm me. I am Dante Valentine.

Relief scalded me all over, gushed in hot streams from my eyes. I knew who I was now: I could remember my name.

Everything else would follow.

I hauled myself up to my feet. My legs shook and I stumbled, and I was for once in no condition to fight. I hoped I wasn't in a bad part of town.

Whatever town this is. What happened? I staggered, ripped my claws free of the brick wall, and leaned against its cold rough surface, for once blessing the stink of humanity. It meant I was safe.

Safe from what? I had no answer for that question, either. A hideous thing beat like a diseased heart behind the door I'd slammed to keep it away. I didn't want to know right now.

Safe place, Danny girl. I flinched, but the words were familiar, whispered into my right ear. A man's voice, pitched low and tender with an undertone of urgency. Just the way he used to wake me up, back in the old days.

Back when I was human and Jace Monroe was alive, and Hell was only a place I read about in classic literature and required History of Magi classes.

That thought sent a scree of panic through me. I almost buckled under the lash of fear, my knees softening.

Get up, clear your head, and move. There's a temple down the street, and nobody's around to see you. You've got to move now. Jace's voice whispered, cajoled.

I did not stop to question it. Whether my dead lover or my own small precognitive talent was speaking didn't matter.

The only thing that mattered was if it was right. I was naked and covered in blood, with only my bag. I had to find somewhere to hide.

I stumbled to the mouth of the alley, peering out on a dim-lit city street, the undersides of hovers glittering like fireflies above. The ambient Power tasted of synthhash smoke, wet mold, and old silty spilled blood, with a spiked dash of Chill-laced bile over the top.

Smells like Jersey. I shook my head, blood dripping from my nose in a fresh trickle of heat, and staggered out into the night.


Excerpted from To Hell and Back by Lilith Saintcrow Copyright © 2008 by Lilith Saintcrow. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Lilith Saintcrow was born in New Mexico, bounced around the world as an Air Force brat, and fell in love with writing when she was ten years old. She currently lives in Vancouver, WA.

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To Hell and Back (Dante Valentine Series #5) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 61 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After finishing book4 in this series, Saint city Sinner, I just couldn't wait to get my hand on this one. But to be honest, I was, somehow disappointed at how the series ends. Don't get me wrong, this series is one of the best fantasy novels I've read in a while but I was expecting 'more' from this last book. True, the story ends as you expect it should be... bad guy is dead.. and a little twist at the end is good and unexpected and it paints more 'color' to the whole story.. But, sadly to say, there are also several questions/plots that the author continued hinting from the previous books and you wish you would find out the answers in this book but..hey.. you didn't.. and that left me feel hanging... The heroine, Dante, in this book turns out to be very annoying. She is less and less likable since the first book (which I still think is the best written in this series.) There are a lot of redundancy, as the other reviewers mentioned and at some point, I was tired of it. The hero, Tierce Japhrimel, a fallen demon, is one of the best character created in fantasy novel. The author did a great job creating him but didn't do him justice in this book at all. Good point about this book? Saintcrow's world of psion is carefully created, sophisticated, imaginative and very interesting just by reading about the world alone. And in each book, you learn more and more about this world but surprisingly, it's still be able to fascinate you even in the last chapter. The other secondary characters are also well written and have colorful personalities and sometimes, especially in this book, they overshadows the main character (aka..the heroine.) herself. Bottom line, if you've been reading the first 4 books, I know you can't help but to pick this one up and see how the story ends.. But you will feel just like I do that you wish there are few more chapters or a longer epilogue or even another book itself..
Guest More than 1 year ago
Where do I begin? With the crushing disappointment I felt with the obvious lack of editing in this book? With the fact that Dante, the kick-ass heroine of books 1, 2 and 3, fulfilled the sad promise of whiner-dom in book 4 and embraced it in this, the final book of the series? That I grew to dislike her, even? Her contrariness, her obtuseness, her stubborness to beyond a fault, selfishness beyond all understanding? I wanted to like this book, and I couldn't. After the disappointing book 4, I was rooting for a turn-around. Saintcrow failed to deliver. Instead, what we get is a twisted mishmash of wordiness, redundancy, unexpected and highly irritating self-flagellation from an idiotic and indecisive Dante. And she's mean, too. Unnecessarily so. I mean, I know her life has been rough, but where's the duality of this character? Where's the faint likeability factor? The humor? The light to balance the oppressive dark? She was just plain dumb. The fact that Lucas expresses this to her made me grateful that some of my frustration was shared, but I think the author crossed the line here and, instead of painting an empathetic character that I'd like to see redeemed, she draws us one that I'd really just rather see erased. The male lead, though, Japhrimel, now there's a guy I'd like to see come back. Without the baggage known as Dante. I'm just sad. This was one of the freshest series I've read in a long time and it just tanked. Oh, well. I'll keep reading and hoping for the next spark!
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I love this book it was the first lilth saintcrow books i bought. It isnt the last book i will buy either. Lilth saintcrow captures my complete attention that i am able to picture each book as a movie.
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