"They say I'm half demon, but I like to think of myself as half human, especially as the demons want me dead." Charlie Henderson is living a lie. Her real name is Muse and her attempt at a normal life is about to go up in smoke. When a half-demon assassin walks into her life, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake, Muse must return to the one man she hoped never to see again and ask for help. The Prince of Greed isn't known for his charity. The price is high, but the cost could tear her apart. Trapped between the malevolent intentions of a Prince of Hell, an assassin with ulterior motives, and her bloodthirsty demon-kin, Muse must embrace the lure of chaos at her core; the demon inside her, in order to survive. When your ex is the Prince of Greed, you'd better be ready to raise hell.
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interesting demon UF with awkward romance overlaid
There was so many great things about this book, and some disappointments.
First of all, the world of the story is good and unusual. The idea of a world with demons and humans separated by a Veil, where there are no angels to balance out the demons, is solid. I appreciate that there is no Heaven/Hell morality laid over the world. Our main characters are half human and half demon, and their differing views on their identity in the world were interesting. I do love a good misfit tale. The Institute is a great concept and makes a nice foil to the demons as villains. They offer Muse a way to improve her skills and while keeping her safe from the demons while doing it. I liked the demon magic system being based on elemental forces (fire/heat, ice/cold) and look forward to meeting characters in future books with powers in other elements.
Muse/Charlie is a good protagonist. She was imprisoned and abused, and is coming into her own now. We want her to find her power and to find her place in her world. She has a metalworking aptitude, which I'd love to see her work more with. She has fire elemental magic. She gets thrown into and situation after situation without much ability to do more than react, but by the end of the book we see her getting her feet under her and starting to plan her own destiny finally. She waffles a bit too much about who to trust and love, but her abusive backstory makes that believable (for now). Now that she is getting some clarity and training, I expect her to be much stronger in the second book.
Some things were frustrating to me. The sex scenes in this book seemed awkwardly thrown in. There is a "love triangle" of sorts, but poor Muse is choosing between two men that have treated her badly and broken her trust, and with all the twists and turns of the plot, I was left thinking she should have thrown them both away and went on with her life.
I felt that the demons were a little underwritten (thought that may be rectified more in coming books). We are told there are seven Princes in Hell, and that Akil is the Prince of Greed (so I assume they are the seven Deadly Sins), but that is not explored in any way that I could see. I'd like to know more about the origin of the demons and what their world and motivations are. I am very intrigued about the role/powers of the half-demons and look forward to more revelations about them. How did they come to be? How many are there? What role will they have in defeating the demons or bolstering the humans?
There seemed to be some continuity errors (Muse refers to something a character told her or taught her, but we never saw that scene, etc.), which made Muse seem a little unreliable as a narrator. The pacing shifts rapidly, and felt too much of action action action without time for the character to react or reflect, which keeps the reader from bonding with Muse. Similarly, I am unsure how to feel about some of the secondary characters (Mika, Ryder) because we're never given enough time with them to see what their true natures are. Everyone seems to be a double agent in this book. I'd like to see a bigger scope in the next book - make me care about the world and what the greater stakes are. If it's just Akil versus Muse because she dared to leave him, that's pretty shallow and uninteresting.
All in all the book was interesting, fast-paced, and a good start to a series. I am eager to see the world fleshed out more, Muse come into her own, and the scope of the struggle between demons and humans to be revealed.
She loves and acts and a hour later she hates the same person and acts. She's weak but she's strong. She needs to be rescued from her fatal decisions over and over because she refuses to actually benefit from any information . Bleh. Same stupid self talk over and over. Character is the worst description of illogical ambivalence. Don't advise the kids to read this one unless as a bad learning example of predictable negative outcome. Personally, I began rooting for the devil.