Book Review: Possession is Nine Tenths: Ardeur by Danielle Gavan

9884946Title: Possession is Nine Tenths: Ardeur
Author: Danielle Gavan
Genre: Adult Romance, Paranormal Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Review copy provided by the author. Visit the author’s website.

Desperate to evict her demon, Necromancer Ardeur Blaise Lisle never dreamed of finding herself in Mount Angel Abbey, or that it would be a sanctuary run by angels. It seems to be the perfect solution to her problem when she discovers the key to getting rid of her co-pilot. She persuades the Angel of Death to intercede; but the consequences are direr than expected. He’s playing for keeps.

A promise kept…

Released from military service, Werewolf Brody Callaghan has never expected to find the woman he’d sworm to find running down the street towards him, and straight into the path of a speeding BMW. Fate steers him towards the Abbey and will give him what he wants – but he’ll have to fight Death for it, and the angel is playing dirty.

Her freedom might be the end of Ardeur’s relationship with Brody and a life away from everything she never thought she’d have in the arms of a werewolf with dimples and a charmer’s grin. They’ll have to race to save their love, and unborn children, from an off his rocker angel. With the clock ticking they’ll have to figure it out, and fast.

Ardeur, or Ardy as we get to call our heroine, grew up being feared and disliked by her own family. Most of this has to do with the fact that she can see and communicate with the dead – a natural trait for a necromancer, but not exactly something a parent wishes for their offspring. Even though her parents aren’t that fond of Ardy (this being an extreme understatement), they do manage to use her for one very interesting purpose: money. From a very young age, Ardy is forced to hold séances, summon spirits and practice black magic of the worst kind. Like this wasn’t enough reason to call forth the child protection services; her parents decide they need to take things a bit further and they actually sell Ardy to a bunch of people who are definately up to no good. Not only do they summon the spirit of a demon, Shade, and put him in the young child’s body, but they are also the ones who order said demon to commit a series of gruesome murders. Plagued by the fact her own body is used as a killing machine and is co-inhabitated by a demon who keeps telling her she is useless and no one ever loved her, Ardy swears to get rid of the demon someday and grasp control of her own body again.

A couple of years and a whole lot of murders later, Ardy keeps up to that promise. Pushing the demon to the back of her mind, she takes back control of her own life. But the fight definately isn’t over: still tormented by the demon, chased by her previous kidnappers, and she finally discovers a part of herself she had no clue existed up till now. But more than that, Ardeur is torn between two possible lovers. On the one side, there’s the alpha werewolf Brody – currently without a home – who has loved her ever since he laid his eyes upon her more than ten years ago. But on the other side is Death itself, dark and cruel and capable of unimaginable things. However, the latter might have a touch of goodness and compassion inside of him, and not all things are as they seem, as Ardeur struggles not only with who and what she really is, but also with who she loves – and how far she is willing to go to hold on to that love.

Possession is Nine Tenths: Ardeur was a nice surprise. I had expected this novel to be entertaining, but I hadn’t expected it to focus on so many different things, and actually build a rich and wonderful world where humans and angels, demons, necromancers, etc. live side by side. Ardeur started out quite dark, with the dispatchment of an unwanted child. The parents stroke me as cruel, uncompassionate and uncaring, but throughout the novel it became quite clear that in fact, Ardy’s parents were more freaked out than anything else. They probably feared their own daughter, or atleast it scared them that she was something other than normal. I liked this evolution and explenation, and I could actually relate and understand her parents a little bit as the story continued. It can’t be easy to have a daughter who talks to a dead nanny and plays with the souls of children long gone and is destined to become a full-grown necromancer. Of course that’s no excuse, but I felt relieved that I atleast got to know why her parents disliked Ardeur.

Even from the start, Ardeur is a strong, independent and intelligent young girl, but as she grows up – carefully hidden in her own mind, behind the demon in charge – those qualities only strenghtened. I loved her personality, and the way Danielle Gavan described her fears and paranoia was absolutely spot on. Once freed from Shade, she is determined to live a life on her own, even though that will be difficult if not impossible with her previous kidnappers still looking for her. But no matter how courageous and determined Ardeur is, the first thought that comes to mind when following her through her new found life is ‘lost’. She is still just as lost as she was when her parents sold her to the highest bidder and turned her into a vessel for a vindictive and evil demon.

I loved the strong feelings and topics that were touched throughout this novel: abandonement, love, friendship, courage, independence, fear. I absolutely adored the fact that although Ardeur is always looking for a real home, and a real family, it takes practically till the end of the novel before she finds that. Before she finds a place she can call home, and people she can call family. The relationship between Brody and Ardeur is heart-warming, bittersweet and very touching. I wasn’t completely convinced of the character of Brody at first – he seemed sort of random, and I didn’t like the cliché that he felt some sort of connection with Ardeur and then went to look for her after ten or so years, plus I wasn’t fond of the possible werewolf-necromancer relationship – but he developed into an admirable character.

The story is deep, very deep, especially for a fantasy novel. As I already mentioned, it touches so many sensitive and interesting topics, and waves them into one fast-paced, well-written and highly entertaining story. It’s very dark though, a lot darker than I had at first anticipated, but that’s the part that makes this novel more than ‘just another fantasy story’ and turns it into something a lot more memorable and interesting.

Now here’s the part that I didn’t like about the novel. Caution: there are some minor spoilers in this paragraph. I didn’t understand the way Ardeur reacted to Azrael when she figured out he was actually the one that caused her to be the person she is today, although it was quite clear that without his interference, she would have died. Personally, I think I would have reacted quite differently. For starters, this is the Angel of Death we’re talking about. The Angel of Death who actually breaks a bazillion heavenly rules and turns against everything he stands for to save the life of one human baby. But then Ardeur gets upset because she blames Azrael for her miserable life, the fact that her body got inhabited by a demon for over ten years and the fact that her parents never really loved her. Uhm, hello? Wake up call needed much? In my opinion, the Angel of Death did quite enough. What was he supposed to do? Check up on the baby he already did a lot more for than anyone could expect from him? He was supposed to kill her. He risked everything to save her. But hey, let’s all be angry at the fellow because he didn’t check up on that baby. Let’s blame him for the horrible life she had, and all the horror and tragedies she had to go through. Because that’s totally fair. Didn’t think so. If I was Ardy, I would have been thanking him from the bottom of my heart – because atleast she got to live a life, thanks to him. Saving someone’s life doesn’t mean you are responsible for what happens to them next. It actually dissapointed me that Ardy didn’t figure that one out by now.

Needless to say that up until a couple of chapters from the end, I was actually more a fan of the pairing Azrael/Ardeur than Ardeur/Brody. I still think it would have been a better fit, although it’s quite clear that Ardeur really loves Brody. But oh well, I’m a creative reader, I’m allowed to think about alternative endings.

Putting that aside, I did really enjoy reading Possession is Nine Tenths: Ardeur, and I would recommend it to all fantasy fans. It might be dark and angsty, but it actually has a message to get across: that no matter how tough life is, and no matter if you’re on your own, you have to keep going on. You have to find the courage and determination within yourself to make life work, no matter what. And you should never stop believing in love, because at the moment when you least expect it, or when you need it the most, there will be someone who loves you. That’s a very strong and hopeful message, that perfectly fits with this extraordinary and remarkable novel.

Comments

  1. GREAT review, Majanka! You can tell you really enjoyed the book and it spoke to you on many levels – always a sign the author their job. I read the book as well and you pointed out depths I missed, but was able to see clearly when you wrote it.

    Thanks so much for sharing!
    C.J.

  2. Great review! I’ve not read the novel, but it’s definitely on my TBR list!

  3. Nickie Asher says:

    Great review. This book is on my TBR list, too!

  4. Thank you for the wonderful review, Majanka. You touched on things I don’t think I even realized I was putting into the novel.

    Oh, the Azrale/Ardeur thing didn’t work out because of what happens in book two. It will make sense when you read it. 😉

    Once again, thank you for the fabulous review.

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