Author: Jana Oliver
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Series: The Demon Trappers, Book 1
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*Novel provided via Book It Forward Book Tours
For more information please visit Jana Oliver's website.
Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself – and that’s exactly what the demons are counting on…The Demon Trapper’s Daughter, the stellar first novel in Jana Oliver’s Demon Trapper’s series, is a thrilling YA geared more towards older readers. Filled with mystery, suspense, action and romance this novel also explores the darker topics of loss and finding your place within the world. Wonderfully written and utterly enthralling, I highly recommend this novel to any fan of YA lit or demons in general.
Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper, Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father's footsteps. The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta’s local Trappers’ Guild needs all the help they can get – even from a girl. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils – Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life’s about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen.
But then a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, sudden tragedy strikes the Trappers’ Guild, spinning Riley down a more dangerous path than she ever could have imagined. As her whole world crashes down around her, who can Riley trust with her heart – and her life?
The futuristic world created within this novel is bleak and unlike anything that I have read in the past. This futuristic landscape is not so unlike our own as the world finds itself in a long standing depression where metal and fuel are commodities hard to come by. This unsettling atmosphere makes for a wonderful back drop to a world where demons roam throughout the city, hunted by Demon Trappers and Rome’s Demon Hunters. The atmosphere mirrors the backdrop: grungy, dilapidated and down trodden, which all seem to soak into the very bones of the characters creating a plight that is on the verge of oppressive. The demons of this novel are not the ones we have come to expect from other series, the humanoid and alluring beings who are more seductive then nefarious, but the demons represented in this series are monstrous refugees from hell. Creatures bent on destruction that are beyond dangerous and cunning in their own animalistic way. However, what I really liked about this novel are the varying levels of demons. The higher levels are exactly what you would expect a demon to be while the lower ranking hell spawn are actually pretty cute if not amusing. But, the demons aren't the only source of strife within this novel as reanimators, or necromancers who bring back to life the dead and sell them as slaves to the wealthy, play quite a despicable role as well. However, like everything else within this world that Oliver created there are varying degrees of unseemly behavior within this group as well.
Characterization was beyond wonderful in this series as well. Riley is a pretty typical teen aside from the fact that she is an apprentice Demon Trapper. She's quite gutsy, if not reckless, in her bid to become a Demon Trapper with a determination that is admirable. But, she's also really pretty resilient given all the curve balls that she has to contend with within the novel. I know if I had to endure half the things she does I'd be a sniveling wreck curled up in a ball in the corner of the room. This makes me love her simply for the strength that she exhibits in the face of adversity. Of course, that's not to say that she doesn't have those inconsistent moments, but that can only be expected from a teen as she struggles with finding her place within the world and ultimate battle to find out who she really is. But, Beck was without a doubt my favorite character within the novel and I can only hope we see more of him in the future. Older then his years, he is a veteran of the armed forces carrying a large weight within him. He has flaws and some serious emotional issues that are nicely explored, but despite this he comes across as a strong, caring man bent on protecting Riley even if that means from herself. But, having issues seems to be the norm within this bleak and semi-oppressive world and the other Demon Trappers are not immune. Harper, Riley's new master, is not without his intense flaws, but there is so much going on within his character. Honestly, at the beginning I really despised him thinking that him being in charge of Riley's training would be nothing if not deplorable. And while I was right to a degree, he has his lucid moments when you have to wonderful what is beneath his prickly facade. And then of course there is the romance between Simon and Riley. How sweet can you get? This alter boy actually makes for an interesting compliment to Riley's less then angelic character, but it's the friction that this creates with Beck that I truly found interesting. This is definitely something that I can't wait to see explored within future novels to see if Beck can continue to fool himself into thinking that he is only looking out for Riley's well being, not because of any emotional tie that he has for her. But, likewise I am eager to see how long Riley can be happy with the 'good boy' when her heart keeps turning towards Beck.
But, truly the best part about this novel was the writing. There's a wonderful narrative style to this novel with a shifting point of view between Riley and Beck that give great insight into the world and the characters. The differences between the styles of the characters, the way they think and the things that they observe was truly interesting and really enveloped me into the story. While dual point of views isn't something new, this novel definitely did it in a way that was beyond appealing. Especially as the emotional quality within this novel wasn't quite was I was expecting. The POV's really explore the differences in the way people deal with loss and the different types of loss and struggles that we go through. It was quite intense at times and often had me tearing up.
Overall, this was a surprising novel that I truly enjoyed reading. Creative, edgy and wonderfully original there's still so much to be explored within the world and the characters. I really can't wait to see what happens next within this addictive series and eagerly recommend this to older YA readers as this deals with some pretty deep, dark and intense themes.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars
Advisory: Adult themes dealing with sex and alcoholism