My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from the publisher and author, Sherry D. Ficklin, in exchange for an honest review.
Actual rating of 3.75
Rule number 1: Demons Lie
“Maybe life makes monster of us all, in the end.”
Aria is a witch, she is also a guardian, one of the chosen ones who are to guard the gates and stop the demons that find their way through. When she was 9, her mother was killed by a demon while she watched, now at 17 she wanders the United States hunting down gateways as well as the demon spawn that have walked through them. She’s been on her own for a while now, it’s lonely but it works. She finds herself in Red Prairie, a town in Texas where she is sure that the next gateway lies. After dispatching a demon she realises that there is more than one preying on this town and swears to put an end to the missing persons and the ‘animal’ attacks that pepper the towns history. In a bid to show normalcy, she enrols at the local high school, this will allow her to hopefully figure out exactly who the demon she’s hunting really is, and hey, if she can graduate at the same time, it’s a win win situation. What she doesn’t count on is two people breaking through her walls and showing her just how lonely she really is. Maddie, a girl full of spark who is destined for Julliard, and Ben, her best friend, all round nice guy, and easy on the eyes. This hunt will be like no other she has faced thus far, and the power of friendship will bolster her need to survive and continue her quest to rid the Earth of demons forever.
In the first chapter, I had it in my head that Aria was older than she really was, it wasn’t until she was enrolling into highschool that I had a “hang on a sec” moment, this is when I realised that this book was young adult urban fantasy, which is totally cool, it just threw me for a moment and I had to readjust my brain. Once that was done, I was thrown into a fast paced, well written urban fantasy story that was super enjoyable.
As the protagonist, Aria was a great character, she had just the right amount of sass and smart arsery that really gets me rooting for someone. Nothing felt forced and she didn’t annoy me at all, which can happen a lot, especially in the YA genre. We’re generally met with teenagers who feel that they know everything and that nothing can bring them down no matter what. Aria was definitely a breath of fresh air into the YA category as she does have the attitude of a winner, but she also knows that each fight could be her last, she trains hard and she doesn’t bullshit, which I really liked. Maddie was a great secondary character and I really enjoyed learning about her and her history, I really hope that we get to really know the backstory of Maddie’s ancestors. I honestly can’t say a bad thing about her. Ben, what I would call the damsel in distress in this novel (though he’s not overly in distress I just felt bad for the guy) he was a great love interest though I feel like we didn’t really get to know him too well. I’ve already read the synopsis for book 2 so I’m excited to sink my teeth into it and see where our three musketeers go from here. The romance wasn’t heavily laid on which was good, it’s always annoying when the romance portion of the story line overtakes everything else.
The story itself was fantastic as a first book to a series, it really set the landscape and gave us all the necessary information about the world and how it works without info dumping. We learned bit by bit how things worked which is a brilliant way to set up a world in a new series.
I loved the inclusion of the whole church VS witches thing, it was great to see this included as well as a nod to the Salem witch trials. I love the way that Ficklin included these in the story.
While I did receive an ARC of this book and I understand that it is an uncorrected proof, I felt that another heavy round of editing definitely needs to be done. I think that it would’ve bumped my rating up a bit higher if I wasn’t being jolted out of the story by misspelled words and jumbled sentences as much as I was.
I love the inclusion of the Key of Solomon and I also like how this seems like it’s going to be an ongoing arc for the story itself. I’m super interested to see what our characters turn up and whether their thoughts about it are correct. There’s a twist near the end, and I totally didn’t see it coming at all which was just great!
In short, this was a great setup to a new urban fantasy series, and I cannot wait for book 2!