I read Fade Rippers when it was still GALEFIRE and enjoyed the novel a great deal. It was dark, edgy, and ugly when too much urban fantasy is the story of two guys, a girl, and something supernatural they need to kill. The book has seen substantial rewrites since then but still maintains the essence of the story, which is that Lonnie is a waste of space trying to reboot his drug-addled brain.
The biggest difference between Galefire and Fade Rippers is the new version of the book dials back some of the darkness and gives a few more clues to what's really going on in Lonnie's life. The result is an easier read but I don't think my opinion on the book's overall quality has been affected. It's a decent read and I was interested in where the story went. Strangely, the book also shifted from the Fade Rippers being fairies to them being demons from hell despite being a (somewhat) lighter work.
Lonnie isn't a likable protagonist, nor is he meant to be. He's whiny, entiteld, and constantly focuses on his lost family while doing nothing to either seek them out or break his criminal contacts. He's actually a decent portrayal of a drug addicted criminal and the fact he's unable to escape the life he's built for himself makes him interesting. I was a bit disappointed with the "reveal" at the end given Lonnie being a loser what was made me like him.
The 8th Street Gang, by contrast, is a colorful collection of weirdos who have a good deal more charisma than our protagonist. Their leader Seelix, the vampire twins Esla and Ingrid, plus Crash are all characters who you can believe Lonnie thinks of as his friends despite his co-dependent relationship with them. The fact they're far much more (and less) is hinted at but only comes to a head at the end.
The best part of the book is a toss-up between the massive gun fight which takes almost a third of the book as well as depicting the emptiness of Lonnie's normal life. Kenny Soward is a master of action and I was actually reminded of John Wick when he discussed the firefight that takes up so much of the book. Lonnie is certainly no unstoppable badass but the massive shoot out which occurs is one that has a lot of tension because he's wasted. Will he actually be able to pull off his plan or is he too high to do it?
The seediness of life with the 8th Street Gang is also something I enjoyed. They live in a single run-down floor of an apartment building, fight over their one television, and are all barely functional when not killing things. They lie around, take drugs, eat fast food, hook up, and make money to repeat it.The fact they are a bunch of powerful supernatural entities doesn't protect them from being past their sell-date. You get the impression all of them, even the undead, would have gotten themselves killed if not for Seelix serving as their unwilling den mother.
Does this book have flaws? Eh, yeah, I believe so. My biggest problem with the book was the choice to move from depicting the crappy lives of a really petty gang of demonkin to something that feels like a more traditional urban fantasy plot. I think this series would have been better served if it had been about dealing drugs, shoot outs, and fighting with other supernaturals over turf. Even so, the "reveal" of Lonnie's past was a great twist.
Of all the characters in the book, I like Seelix most with Ingrid and Elsa coming up quickly behind. I actually think Kenny Soward could have gone even seedier and sexier to make the book a Hard R-rated work for adults. I recommend people pick this up if they want their urban fantasy to be darker and edgier. Most urban fantasy is Thriller. This is Anarchy in the UK (except in Ohio).