This is one of those series that is borderline a guilty pleasure for me at the moment. I can tell that this is one of those series that was 1. Maybe hurt by the hype train and my inability to read books in a timely fashion so things end up getting kind of spoiled, and 2. That it’s also one of those series that only really gets good come the third or fourth book. In “Crown of Midnight” Celaena is firmly the King’s Champion, though she’s fairly good at not having to assassinate anyone for an assassin. The King gives her a list of people she needs to eliminate, and she goes off and pretends like she does, but things get complicated when the King wants her to kill a blast from her past because he suspects that he’s leading a rebellion. This person is a courtesan of sorts, and Celaena doesn’t believe her old friend would have the guts to do something like the King claims given the life of luxury he leads. So, on her quest to figure out who is really involved in this rebellion, Celaena uncovers more secrets in the impossibly large underground passages of the Glass Castle—like seriously, there’s at least 3 castles within this one castle that are just completely abandoned. Ultimately, this is very much a book about moving pieces and characters into the right places so the main plot of the series can finally begin.
“Kingdom Come” is a bit like Supernatural, or, rather Shadow Hunter Academy with God and Christ in the forefront. If there are demons, they are Satan’s creatures plain and simple. Unlike some of the other paranormal books out there that use demons as their villains without any religious aspect to them, that’s not the case in this novel. Our main character is part of an elite demon hunting academy based in Vatican City, developed by the newest Pope Quintus. Their goal is simple and straight forward: kill all demons, and go where the Church needs them to battle the forces of evil. Everything from complex exorcisms, to full out war for the Vatican, the DH is there, each team with their own unique characters and powers, reminiscent of a video game class system. Jason struggles to find his place on the team, often insubordinate when his instincts tell him to act, often with dire consequences. He’s a character on a journey all in the service of God. So, obviously, if you don’t want or like Christian Speculative Fiction mixed in with your fantasy, this won’t be the book for you, because Coogle never shies away from the fact that his book is all about the glory of God.
I tend to waffle on zombie books. I can get burned out on them real fast because they are just so popular; they seem to be the go-to epidemic for apocalyptic books, that or hunger game levels of dystopian. But “The Afters” was an awesome read, and all because of the narrative voice of Charlie, our main character. O’Connell had me laughing within the first chapter of introducing us to Charlie, and in a genre where most everything has been done 80 different ways, but often the same way (I’m looking at you, Walking Dead), it was so refreshing to have such a strong character. Because that’s what you need at this stage when almost everything else has been done before: a unique, strong voiced character that you are invested in, but is also incredibly sarcastic and funny in an otherwise super dire situation. Charlie lives in a very loose community of survivors, he’s an awesome scavenger and hunter of the undead, but he also is a good guy, a softie, a romantic, and his attachment to Bertha, Trey, and Ellie was both sweet and entertaining to follow.
“Demon’s on the Dalton” is the second in the Hell Hole’s serial trilogy, and picks up pretty immediately from where the first in the series left off. Although, this book spends a decent chunk early on recapping and re-familiarizing the reader with what happened in the first novella, so if you don’t read the first one, I don’t think you’ll be totally lost, though I do think the excitement of the first book is higher than in the second. We get Angela’s perspective this time as our trio of survivors race across the Dalton. The majority of the story is spent with our characters in their vehicle, barely able to stop to pee on the side of the road before all manner of hell spawn is on top of them. Their mission is still primarily to survive, to get to Fairbanks, and safety. But as the U.S. military mobilizes and starts their counter attack, their mission shifts, becoming more than just survival, but helping the powers that be to end the unending wave of demonic creatures that are pouring into our world.
At first I thought “Hell Holes” was going to be a science fiction novella given the cast of main characters are all scientists or researches in the natural sciences. And, admittedly, the first half of the book feels like a true science fiction as the characters explain the science and their reasoning for what the mysterious holes popping up all over Alaska could be or what may be causing them. Then it takes a pretty hard left into pure horror/paranormal action. “Hell Holes” starts off as a quest for answers about these holes and what can be done to keep them from interrupting a lucrative Alaskan oil line, then ends on a high speed chase across the tundra as the scientists are hunted down by all manner of hell-spawn and demons. Was I disappointed by this turn? Not really. But I was taken by surprise.
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