I don’t typically read horror novels. Not because I scare easily, the opposite actually. I never get as creeped out reading as I would watching something, so I’m probably the worst person to judge if a book is actually scary. “Demon’s Prize” is meant to be scary at times, and there definitely is some creepy imagery, but since I’m not sure what most people find terrifying when I have a hard time defining that for myself, I’m not going to spend much time talking about the scare factor. Needless to say, The Alpha Wolf series is a paranormal, urban fantasy that fits nicely for New Adult readers. The book follows four friends—who are werewolves—as they embark on trying to make their dreams come true with their band. Along the way, they meet Brent, an alpha werewolf with secrets of his own that the young pack desperately tries to unravel no matter how much Brent pushes them away. The story follows the four werewolves and Angela—a werewolf hybrid—as Brent intervenes when Angela is nearly taken by a demon. Following that incident, the young werewolves are determined to save Brent at all costs, even though one of their pack really doesn’t want to. So, yeah, you can see exactly why some people may find this creepy or scary, so consider yourself warned.
I thoroughly enjoyed the main antagonist in this book, to be honest. I don’t know if that’s weird or not, but his creepy playfulness, the absurdly large smile… all of that sent delightful shivers down my spine. I wish there were even more encounters with him throughout the book, but given where this book ends (it’s on a cliffhanger) I know the next book in the series will see more of the demon and the realm he came from. The book focuses mostly on Brent and Angela—Angela as she grows into her power and Brent as he relearns what it means to be part of a pack. It’s a sweet relationship, one that was fun to watch grow and evolve from the enemies they were when they first met. Maimone also does a fabulous job with presenting the lore in this book, it feels like a truer representation of magick then what I’ve read in a long time, but despite this book being about werewolves you don’t see a ton of wolfy action. So if you want something more in the shifter realm, this may not be for you. Also, Maimone doesn’t pull back when it comes to the creepy gory scenes, which is why I recommend it for New Adult and not below. The book isn’t dripping with blood and guts, but the few instances where it’s present are pretty graphic.
The one thing that kind of held me back about this book and really getting into the wide cast of characters though, was the narrative style. It’s a bit of an omniscient close 3rd, which I personally have a hard time getting into. The jumps between character to character became a bit jarring for me, and made it hard for me to keep characters like Tony and Nathan apart, even though Tony is supposed to be more the leader of their little group. With how many characters are in the novel, a different kind of narrative point of view may have helped that for me in terms of getting to know the characters—especially the secondary cast. Plus, I’m not a huge fan of a cliffhanger ending, especially one where you already know what needs to happen in the story and are waiting for that moment to arrive. For that to happen in the last chapters and then for the book to end? It can be a bit frustrating especially since you already know so much intense stuff is about to go down in the sequel.
Also, disclaimer time: I personally know the author. We went to high school together. But she didn’t ask me to review her book. In fact, I asked HER if I could! But I will say that Maimone’s book is one whose subject matter and tone fit perfectly with many of the books by my publisher, so this is a story I have recommended as one my publisher may want to add to their wheelhouse, so take that for what it’s worth. Anyway, sorry this review is a bit vague, but there is a reason for that: 1. I’m not sure how to write this without spoilers, as any little thing I say may reveal too much of the secrets that slowly get teased out over the course of story and 2. I’m pretty confident Maimone’s book will get republished in the near future and I don’t know what changes may come from that, if any. But, as it stands, since I personally had a difficult time with the narration style and was a tad frustrated with where and how this first book in the series ended, I’m giving it 4 stars, but I can’t wait to see what happens to Brent and Angela come the next book! I have a feeling it’s going to be 100x more intense than the first one!
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