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.

Book Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

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Title: Fallen
Author: Lauren Kate
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars

There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret…even if it kills her.

Whether or not Fallen is an excellent YA novel, or the worst piece of fiction ever written, is a debate that is going on all over the bookish world. You have people who praise this novel into the seventh heaven, and you have others who would think even the fifth circle of hell isn’t low enough to rate this one. Some say it is unoriginal and boring and totally like Twilight (which does raise quite some question marks with me) while others say it’s the next best thing after the invention of the universe. My opinion is somewhat in the middle

Opening curtains. We see a glimpse of Lucinda “Luce” Price, heroine of our story. Luce is pretty much like any normal girl – except she isn’t normal. Far from it. Her previous sort-of boyfriend Trevor died under mysterious circumstances, and up until now the authorities still aren’t convinced that she doesn’t have anything to do with it. Keep in mind the fact that Luce has been seeing shadowy-like creatures crawling over the walls her entire life, that’s enough to make anyone wonder about their own sanity. Luce is sent off to Sword & Cross, a reform school; where she – surprise, surprise – meets Daniel Grigori. Daniel is as gorgeous as they get in fantasy novels, and immediately captures Luce’s heart. The only problem is that he’s continuously mean towards her, and doesn’t want to have anything to do with her. Like the teenage girl she really is, Luce isn’t willing to give up on her new crush, and even pries into his private life. But did I mention that there isn’t just Daniel who’s giving Luce the hot and cold treatment? There is another boy interested in our little heroine as well, and he goes by the name of Cam. Twenty thousand times as civil as Daniel, and – gathering from the descriptions in the novel – equally as good looking and charming, he might give ol’ Daniel a run for his money. However, this wouldn’t be a fantasy novel if there wouldn’t be something strange going on, and no one turns out to be who they pretend to be.

You know what? I will admit it. I couldn’t stop reading this book, and I had to finish it in a one day reading session. To be honest, it’s not like I even tried to put it away. It just swept me off my feet, a bit in the same way like The Hunger Games captured me. So many secrets, and the slow pace at which they unfold – which is a good thing, because it adds a continous sense of mystery to the novel – was enough to keep me reading at the wee hours of dawn. Considering how this novel totally captivated me in any possible way; who am I to give it a low rating then? Of course I must admit there were some upsides and downsides to the story and the characters, but in the end I thoroughly enjoyed reading Fallen. And that’s what is important.

Trying to compare this novel to Twilight is like trying to compare apples and bananas. Twilight is about vampires – this one is about…well, take one lucky guess and remember the title ‘Fallen’. The storyline in Twilight is unoriginal, uneventful, flat and predictable. I mean, can anyone honestly say that they didn’t figure out practically everything that was going to happen in Twilight from page one? If you think Fallen is anything like that; think again. The storyline, although also involving a pretty normal highschool girl falling in love with a supernatural creature, is unpredictable, fast-paced, moving and interesting. There is tension and suspense everywhere; mysteries get unravelled, secrets get exposed, and all the way through I kept on waiting for the big break-down. The big moment when I realise I finally know everything there is to know, and I can safely put the novel away and never worry about it again. Wrong. Lauren Kate holds up the tension in such a marvellous, delightful way that you never get to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Instead, you’re on the edge of your seat throughout the entire novel, encountering surprise after surprise after surprise.

Not only is the storyline developed in a way Twilight could only dream of, the characters have actual depths and personality. Alright, so our heroine is a little air-headed when it comes to Daniel Grigori. But at least she isn’t being courted by half the male population of Sword & Cross, and at least Daniel has the sense not to watch a girl as she sleeps. Because dear ol’ Edward certainly never read the “how to let a girl know you love her without stalking her” manual. The storyline of Fallen makes a lot more sense too, because in Twilight I was constantly wondering why the hell anyone – let alone a hundred year old, drop-dead-gorgeous vampire – would fall for a blunt, clumsy, pathetic excuse for a human being like Bella. Luce on the other hand actually has a personality of her own. Alright, and maybe she could have been a bit more witty, intelligent and determined; but we’re not all hero-material. I actually like the fact Luce doesn’t have the typical hero-personality-traits. The stereotype feisty, witty and highly intelligent but ravenously beautiful heroine gets boring after a while as well.

Without giving any spoilers away, I must add that Daniel actually does have a good reason to stay away from Luce – not the old school Edward “I am dangerous and you should stay away from me…although in reality I am a vegatarian vampire who doesn’t drink blood and SPARKLES in the sunlight” crap. Plus, the supporting characters had an actual personality as well. None of the generic “everyone loves Bella” attitude we see all too well in Twilight. Some people like Luce, others detest her. C’est la vie, and that’s what actually makes characters interesting. Their behavior around each other, the way they interact. Lauren Kate really got that part spot on in this novel. Somewhere along the way, you don’t even have to read their name to know who’s talking anymore: you get that just from what they’re saying. And that, my dear people, is some decent character building.

I must also add that Lauren Kate’s writing is a couple of levels more advanced than Stephenie Meyer’s. She combines gorgeous and realistic descriptions with a fast-paced and brilliant writing style. What’s not to love?

The only thing that bothered me immensly is the fact that I now have even more questions than I had at the start of the novel. Cliffhanger, much? Yep. But that’s all the more reason for me to buy the next novel in the series, Torment. Can’t wait.

Book Review: The Witches Lottery by Krystal McLaughlin

17427104Title: The Witches Lottery
Author: Krystal McLaughlin
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars

When Sophia and Drew McKibben’s parents are killed in a tragic car accident, they are shipped off to live with an aunt they never even knew existed. Believing that they are moving to a privately owned island just off of the coast of Mystic, CT to live alone with her, they are surprised to find a sort of under-aged bed and breakfast.

Sophia draws the attention of one of the locals, Falen, immediately. He always seems to know exactly what she is thinking, and to her frustration, everything she does seems to amuse him. When a newcomer to the island brings with him a sense of deja vu, she begins to ask herself the ultimate question: Am I going crazy?

Sophia’s world starts to unravel when she notices her own brother acting just as abnormal as the rest of them. When she begins to realize that the life she left behind looks even more bizarre then the one she was forced to leave it for, she’s faced with a decision to make: embrace the new life that has been given to her, or drown in the past. Either choice brings with it more secrets and deceptions to unearth. The problem now is that the two worlds may actually be more intertwined than she thought.

The Witches Lottery starts of with the main character, Sophia, who is having a terrible nightmare about her parent’s accident, and who tells the reader about how people look at her and her brother now their parents are dead. I thought this first chapter was really touching, and it immediately made me feel sympathetic towards Sophia and her brother Drew. Then the two siblings are shipped off to live with their aunt Celeste, who they have never seen before in their life. Like things couldn’t get any worse, Sophia starts having strange visions and headaches. On top of all that, it isn’t their aunt who picks them up from the airport, but a stranger who introduces himself as Falen and claims to live on the island with their aunt. Although he and Sophie don’t get along too well at first (he finds everything she does amusing, which obviously annoys her), there is some obvious attraction between them. But the island aunt Celeste lives on isn’t just any normal island, and it hides an ancient and dangerous secret. It’s up to Sophia to find out what exactly that secret is – before it’s too late.

Being a debut novel, The Witches Lottery really appeared to me as striking, original and well-written. The characters are balanced, with interesting and rich personalities, and the storyline is fast-paced, with a few unexpected twists here and there that kept me on the edge of my seat while reading. This is really a novel that demands to be read during one single reading session – it’s just too exciting to suddenly stop halfway, and even when I tried, it was like it kept calling me to get back to my computer and continue reading. It’s a nice bonus when a novel does that; when it makes you feel for the characters and the storyline so much that you just need to know what happens to them next.

My favorite character by far was Sophia. I couldn’t help but like her: she’s determined, intelligent, independent, strong – but with a touch of insecurity and weakness that makes her all the more human. I would have liked to learn more about the other cast members: Falen, Mitch, Daphne and especially Gianna. My guess is that the other novels in the series will focus on the other characters, however I would have liked to learn a bit more about them already. I couldn’t help but feel like there’s a lot more to Gianna than meets the eye, and considering her late arrival in the novel, it made me very curious to know more about her. The only character I wasn’t completely fond of was Celeste: her personality seemed a bit flat, and I feel as though she should have played a larger role throughout the novel.

Personally, when I read fantasy novels, witches aren’t exactly my favorite subject. I like witches sure enough, but I prefer vampires, demons, angels, etc. However, The Witches Lottery made me decide to give witches-related fiction another chance, which shows how good this novel really is. If you’re looking for a nice, relaxing read, but one that will also keep you glued to your chair eagerly anticipating whatever is going to happen next, then The Witches Lottery is an excellent choice.

Book Review: Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer by Maureen McGowan

9407790Title: Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer
Author: Maureen McGowan
Genre: Adventure, Paranormal Romance, Retold Fairytale
Rating: 3,5 stars

In this thrilling story full of adventure and romance, Sleeping Beauty is more than just a lonely princess waiting for her prince–she’s a brave, tenacious girl who never backs down from a challenge. With vampire-slaying talents that she practices in secret, Sleeping Beauty puts her courage to the test in the dark of night, fighting evil as she searches for a way to break the spell that has cut her off from her family. In a special twist, readers have the opportunity to make key decisions for Sleeping Beauty and decide where she goes next–but no matter the choice, the result is a story unlike any fairy tale you’ve ever read!

Lucette, the Sleeping Beauty of this retold fairytale, was cursed shortly after her birth, by the evil Vampire Queen Natasha. One day, Lucette will prick her finger, and her blood will set a curse upon the entire Kingdom. She will never awake until night falls, wheras the rest of her Kingdom will only awake while she is asleep. A terrible curse that would force her to spend her entire life alone. The King and Queen do everything in their power to prevent this awful event from happening, each of them in their own way – the King by being overprotective and the Queen by wanting her daughter to learn how to defend herself – but it is of no use. As the vampires, under leadership of their evil Queen Natasha, invade The Kingdom, Lucette is the only one left to defend the palace at night – that is, until she gets help from a vampire, Alex, and from a former crush of hers, Tristan. But there’s one way to break the curse. True love. However, Lucette will soon find out that finding true love might not be that easy afterall.

Do you remember those books from like hundred – alright fine, maybe ten – years ago, with several options you could choose from, several paths throughout the novel and alternative endings? I don’t know about you, but I loved those novels, so I was happily surprised when I discovered this novel fits right under that category! There are three or four times throughout the novel where you get to choose the path of the heroine. The only dissapointing part is that, no matter which path you choose, the ending still remains the same. That was a real setback for me, especially since the pairing I had been cheering for wasn’t the one that made it in the end. Bummer.

The main character, Lucette, was well-written with a deep, multi-layered personality and a witty spirit. Some of the supportive characters are a bit flat, like I would have liked to know more about Alex and Tristan, the two possible love interests of the heroine. Personally I thought that the personalities of the King and Queen were much better developed, with interesting and clashing personalities. However, I’m not entirely sure if the somewhat flat personalities of Alex and Tristan were really that bad, since it did match the fairytale-like feel of the novel. In fairytales there isn’t a lot of focus on character development or personality traits, but more on getting the story forward, and I got the same vibe with this novel.

I loved the story though, the twist to the original fairytale of Sleeping Beauty by turning her into a courageous, determined, vampire-slaying heroine and the upcoming war between the Kingdom of Xandra and the vampire kingdom. Also, the personal relationships between Queen Natasha, and the parents of Lucette, were highly interesting. Ofcourse this novel isn’t the most magnificent and enthralling piece of fiction ever written, but it is an amusing, enjoyable read that doesn’t bore you for a moment. I got through the novel in one single two-hour reading session, so that’s saying something.

I had a lot of trouble actually finding an appropriate rating for this book. On the hand, I wanted to give it a 5 – because for the specific genre this novel is aiming, it was perfect. On the other hand, when compared to other novels, well…this novel isn’t going to change your perspective on the world, and it isn’t going to leave you crying your heart out, or anything else that is emotionally shocking. So eventually I settled on a 3,5. But don’t turn it down simply because of the rating I gave it. If you loved those make-your-own choices novels as much as I did, you will like this novel a lot too. And if you’re just a fan of retold fairytales, then Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer is exactly what you’ve been looking for.

Book Review: Kiss of Darkness by Loribelle Hunt

9931657Title: Kiss of Darkness
Author: Hunt, Loribelle
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Rating: 3,5 stars

Winter, a hybrid, has spent her life at war. A group of humans who are part demon, the hybrids, along with the lupines and nightwalkers, have dedicated their lives to defeating demons and protecting humanity. Yet, despite their united cause, the three groups share an uneasy alliance.When hybrid military compounds come under attack from demon insurgents, Winter has no choice but to turn to the lupines and nightwalkers for assistance. It’s a partnership based on necessity and she has no intention of letting down her guard with either group.
Marcus, the nightwalker Lord, has other plans. The immediate attraction between him and Winter promises a passion he can’t ignore. To claim her as his own, he’ll not only have to fight the demons who seem hell-bent on destroying her, but her own misconceptions about him and the nightwalker race. It’s a battle he refuses to lose.

I must admit that I have mixed feelings about this novel. On the one side, I loved the main character, Winter Bennett, and her two best friends, Gia and Dupree, and their interactions. I also really liked the storyline: especially the merging of human and demon souls, and the great war against demons. The world-building was wonderful, with safety houses and compounds, and this entire we’re-at-war vibe, that was carefully crafted throughout the novel. Plus, I liked the division between hybrids (as Winter and her friends are), Nightwalkers (a fancy name for Vampires) and Lupines (werewolves). Now, on to the things I didn’t like that much.

The point of view constantly switched between about six characters, which made this book very hard to read. Sometimes I had to reread entire parts to actually know who was talking. I’m a great supporter of switching the points of view to keep things interesting, but it was a bit too much here, and it would have been better had the author only focused on maybe three or so characters. The story was very fast-paced at times, but the middle part of the novel was a too slow for my liking. Sometimes I really had the feeling I had to urge myself to continue reading. But once you get past those fifty-or-so occasionally slow pages, there is enough action and nearly-dying going on to keep you occupied till the end of the novel.

What really, really bothered me about this novel, and is the reason it only got a rating of 3,5 rather than 4 is the way all males – but with that I mean, all males – in this novel respond to falling in love. They feel an uncontrollable possessiveness towards the object of their affections. And not just the Nightwalkers, or the Lupines, mind you, for whom this despicable character trait might be part of their nature, but even Dupree, dear old hybrid Dupree, doesn’t escape from the need to control every move his love interest makes. Not only did I feel like going all Buffy The Vampire Slayer on all Nightwalkers in this novel every five minutes, but it also made me so annoyed I had trouble finishing the book. I mean sure, you can add one character whose immensely posessive, but do you have to make all of them like that? Plus, I’m not saying a little bit posessive, no. I mean totally over-the-top, extremely awkward clingyness. If another man just as much as touched their love interest, those Nightwalkers went berserk. I wasn’t too fond of these traits at all, and they annoyed me, as they were a major part of the story.

However, I must admit that the rest of the story amazed me. I loved the little plot twists and turns, the overall background story, the description of the war against the demons, and the way the tension was built up slowly. I liked this novel, but I would have liked it a lot more if it wasn’t for all the male characters to be overly posessive. If there’s ever a sequel out, I would like to read it though, just to know what happens to the characters.

Visit the author’s website.

Book Review: Demon’s Fall by Karalynn Lee

Title: Demon’s Fa9318237ll
Author: Karalynn Lee
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Rating: 4 stars

She was an angel at the gates of Hell.

When Kenan, an incubus, finds a caged angel for sale in the Hellsgate marketplace, he sees her as a challenge. Certain that his skills in seduction will work as well on a heavenly creature as they do on mortal women, he buys Jahel, intent on having her soul as a novelty in his collection.

Knowing he must gain Jahel’s trust if she is to come to his bed willingly, Kenan treats her more as his guest than as his slave. When she reveals what brought her to the mouth of Hell in the first place—retrieving the soul of a young girl she was guarding—he even offers to help her complete her mission.

Though he has promised Jahel freedom, Kenan soon realizes she has captured his heart instead. And as their passion for one another grows, they find themselves caught in a struggle between Heaven and Hell, one that will lead them to the very edge of the apocalypse…

Trying to get back the lost soul of a girl she was supposed to protect, the angel Jahel gets captured in Hellsgate, a town right before Hell proper; caged and eventually sold to an incubus demon named Kenan. Although he initially only has intentions to capture Jahel’s soul, he comes to like the angel and eventually aids her on her mission to reclaim the lost soul of her protegée. As his feelings for Jahel are growing beyond simple attraction, he learns that Jahel is not the only angel who got lost in Hellsgate as of late…and the other one has plans to commence a war between Heaven and Hell.

I’m usually not a very big fan of novellas, as I tend to believe it is hard to do some decent world-building, create believable character-development and make the reader feel a bond with your characters in such a short amount of time. However, Karalynn Lee manages these three jobs quite well, much to my amazement. The world-building in this novella is impressive. In just under 80 pages, she creates a world existing of three planes: the mortal plane, Heaven and Hell, an obscure ‘third path’ for people who choose neither Heaven nor Hell, and some towns with mixed inhabitants, both mortal and angelic in Heavensgate (although angels only fly over it, and hardly stop to walk through it) and human and demons in Hellsgate. I really liked the world she created: nothing too complicated, but a decent and solid base to fall back upon.

The currency in this well-designed world is souls: Angels want to save them, whereas Demons trade them for other goods. Kenan, one of two main characters, is used to collecting souls from his victims, who give him their full name and soul willingly once he seduces them – which is quite easy, considering he’s an incubus. Initially the only reason why he buys the Angel Jahel, is so he can secude her and then claim her soul. I loved how the dynamics between Kenan and Jahel slowly changed once he had taken her back to his home, and goes to great lengths to earn her trust and respect. The attraction between the two of them is clear from the start, but their affections towards each other develop slowly throughout the story – which was great, because I hate it when a romance blossoms too fast and then you lose every interest in the characters or their further relationship. This is definately not the case here.

The story is very action-driven, from reclaiming a Princess’ soul from a Hellhound, secuding a wicked queen and trying to prevent a war between Heaven and Hell, a lot of things are happening and sometimes it’s just too much. Had all of this taken place in a 400 page novel, it would have been fun and entertaining, but to push all of that in a 70 page novella is a bit too ambitious. It left a lot of questions unanswered (for instance: Why use souls as a currency? Why would an angel want to start a war between Heaven and Hell? What actually happens when you lose your soul?), and little room for details. All in all, this left me a bit dissapointed. There were things I wanted to know more about, and things I think could have easily been left out, for example the whole Snow White sidestory. To be honest, I was a bit confused about all that: when you have a novel with a great storyline and interesting characters, then why suddenly fall back upon a well-known fairytale? It just seemed out of place.

All in all, Karalynn Lee was perhaps a bit too ambitious considering all the things she wanted to include in the novel, but on the other hand she did do a great job writing her novella. I loved the characters and their relationship, the fast-paced action and upcoming Apocalyps/War Between Heaven and Hell backstory. The ending really left me impressed, although I won’t get into more detail about that. 😉 I would love to read more from her, and can’t wait until she writes another book. Perhaps a novel this time?

You can visit the author’s website here.