Thursday, February 24, 2011

REVIEW: Devil's Kiss

Chadda, S.  (2009).  Devils' Kiss.  New York:  Hyperion Books.

327 pages.

Appetizer:  Billi is in training and is being tested to join the Knights Templar.  Her father, who is the leader of the secret religious society, has been training her since she was little to be the first female knight.  Billi never really got a choice in the matter.

At school, Billi is friendless, dateless and has trouble completing all of her assignments due to her training. She regularly has to try to explain away her many bruises and cuts, results from training and battles with werewolves, vampires, ghouls and devils.

But all of that is about to change since her old best friend, Kay, has returned from his own special training as an Oracle in Jerusalem.  They can't pick up their friendship left off though.  Kay seems different and Billi is jealous of the fact that he got to escape for a while.  To make matters worse, Billi's father, Arthur, is willing to praise Kay and not her.

Now that a fallen angel is threatening to enact the tenth plague and kill all the first born children in London, Billi is going to have to decide what is truly important to her.

I enjoyed Devil's Kiss.  The fight scenes had a bit of a Buffy-butt-kicking feel to them.  I liked Billi as a character, enough that I will probably pick up the sequel, Dark Goddess, pretty soon.  But I have to say, I wasn't *in love* with the book.  While it's quickly established that Billi is very angsty when it comes to both her dad and Kay, it took me a long time to understand why she felt the way she did.  I felt like in the case of her friendship with Kay, I didn't really get what was going on between them until about page 250-ish.  And by then, I couldn't really be bothered to care for him any more.

As for Billi and her father...well, she has some serious Daddy issues.  Ever since his wife's death, Arthur has been cold and distant with his daughter.  No praise.  No "I love you's" and he makes it clear, if it comes down to saving others or saving her, he'd choose to save others.  As with Kay, I had trouble knowing who Billi's father was.  Eventually, his motives were revealed, and that was satisfying.

The one thing I could seem to get a sense of was the way Devil's Kiss played with religious lore.  I liked the survival of the Knights Templar into the present-day.  I liked the threat of the plague that paralleled the Biblical plague in Egypt.  I thought this was a refreshing twist to presenting creatures like vampires  and werewolves within a larger tradition.

Dinner Conversation:

"Killing him should be easy; he's only six.
Then why the bilious, twisting feeling deep in her guts?
Why the cold, clammy dampness down her back?
He's only six.
Billi waded through the spiny grass toward the back of the park.  The autumnal night wind whispered to her, down here in The Pit.
What a name for a playground." (p. 3)

"The Order had been formed to defend the Holy Land, but that battle had been lost long ago.  Their war wasn't for Jerusalem, not anymore, but for mankind's soul.  Their war was against the supernatural evil that preyed on humanity.  A war they called The Dark Conflict.
The Bataille Tenebreuse.
Their endless, unwinnable war.
Billi watched the party head back up to Fleet Street and their waiting bus, all safe in their cocoons of ignorance, unaware of the shadow war being fought around them."  (pp. 30-31)

"She'd been excited at first, being part of something big, mystical, the stuff of legend.  Being part of the Knights Templar and their secret war against the enemies of mankind.  The unholy.
The beast within:  mortals with the heart of the wild.
The hungry dead:  corpse-eaters and blood-drinkers.
The ghosts:  spirits of pain.
The devils:  tempters of humanity.
And the Grigori:  dark angels.  (pp. 32-33)

Tasty Rating:  !!!

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