Saturday, 13 June 2015

Review: Soul Thief

With demons and angels being so popular in YA and urban fantasy, it can be a new challenge to add something new to the genre. Thankfully, Jana Oliver has managed to do just that with her Demon Trappers series, bringing in an alternate universe with engaging politics and rules, memorable demons, and dimensional characters caught in conspiracies and lies. So many lies. Soul Thief, the second book in the series, is even better than the first. The world is expanded, the characters are forced to endure, and every action no matter how small has serious consequences. This is a book that should be on many YA/urban fantasy lists.

Interesting choice of color, and Riley looks like she ought to.

Riley has about had it up to here. After the devastating battle at the Tabernacle, trappers are dead and injured, her boyfriend Simon is gravely hurt, and now her beloved late father has been illegally poached from his grave by a very powerful necromancer. 

Add to the mix: Ori, one sizzling hot freelance demon hunter who’s made himself Riley’s unofficial body guard, and Beck, a super over-protective “friend” who acts more like a grouchy grandad, and Riley’s almost ready to leave Atlanta altogether. But as the demon count in Atlanta increases, the Vatican finally sends its own Demon Hunters to take care of the city’s “little” problem, and pandemonium breaks loose. 

Only Riley knows that she might be the center of Hell’s attention. With an extremely powerful Grade 5 demon stalking her,  her luck can’t last forever.

The book begins just after the attack at the Tabernacle which nearly cost Riley and her friends their lives. As if Riley doesn't have enough problems, Vatican sanctioned Demon Hunters from Rome are now sent to deal with the overwhelming amount of demonic attacks, which are coming at the worst possible time since someone is sabotaging their valuable supplies of Holy Water. Given how Riley's personal life is rapidly deteriorating, her need for comfort could eventually lead her to do something that will cost her more than she's willing to give...

This book is wonderfully complicated. Oh, the story is well balanced and I never thought I was lagging behind with information, but the situations? Wow. It's been a long time since I read a book and said, "I'm glad I'm not in their shoes." The Holy Water conspiracy and the mystery of Paul Blackthorne's disappearance are complex and engaging. I really have no idea where the answer lies, though I'm sure the reveal will knock my socks off.

The characters are great, even if by the end of the book I wanted to smack some of them upside the head (I'm looking at you two, Beck and Simon). Riley is tough and stubborn, yet vulnerable and prone to being human, aka making mistakes. While she shoulders the guilt of what she does, I never once blamed her for her actions. Oliver makes her a sympathetic character and leaves you saying, "Just give her a break and listen to her already!" On the flip side, Beck is about as frustrating as male leads can be. He's not a bad character at all– quite the opposite– but his impatience and struggle to open up to Riley drove me a little bit crazy. I was actually kind of mad at him at the end. That being said, Oliver writes him well, so his reactions and insecurities are understandable. Kind of.

For me though, what makes this series, and Soul Thief in particular, is the world. Set in an alternate/near future Atlanta where demons are prevalent, it's the job of demon trappers to track down demons, capture them, and sell them for profit. Something that is much more complicated and, dare I say, more interesting than the demon hunter's typical "shoot-and-kill" response. Demon trapping doesn't pay very well, and watching Riley struggle to make ends-meet through it is both tragic and unique. I love the setting and the way demon trapping works. It's an absolutely unique angle that I've never encountered before, especially now that we've been introduced to the necromancer world a little more. In the first book, The Demon Trapper's Daughter, we only knew them as people out to steal Riley's father's body. Now we learn more about their world, and how it works. I can't say I approve of it (since necromancers raise the dead and sell them as slaves to the rich and living), but it's something I've never encountered and I would be lying if I said I wasn't drawing some inspiration from it.

Soul Thief and the Demon Trappers novels take an over-worked concept and create something new and exciting out of it. Oliver creates difficult situations and places loveable characters in them, forcing readers to care about what happens to them. I am enjoy this series immensely, and would recommend it to all lovers of YA, especially if you've read and enjoyed The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. I also recommend this to lovers of urban fantasy. Chances are you've already come across a series about angels and demons, but I doubt it's anything like this. Hell, I would even tell lovers of hot chocolate to give this one a try. Riley drinks copious amounts of it, and if you need an excuse to indulge in the craving (like I just did), this is the book for you.



  1. Thank you so much! What a wondeful review. And yes, as the author there were many times that I wanted to slap a few characters when they did things that were so WRONG. But trust me, it does work out in the end. The characters learn their lessons the hard way. ;-)

    1. I'm sure every author has been there. We just have a moment where we say, "Why would you do this?!... Right, because it's fun." I'm about a quarter way through the third book and am still loving it. I really can't wait to see how the series ends, and just how hard the lessons are going to be. >:)