Thursday, January 10, 2013

Game Changers: Touch of the Demon

 I have been a fan of Diana Rowland's Kara Gillian series from the beginning. Mark of the Demon (book 1) starts as a police procedural urban fantasy. Gruesome murder? Check. Snarky female lead? Check? Lead with some kind of magical power? Oh, yes.

See Kara, while a homicide detective in the "real" world, also has a hidden life as a demon summoner. She was taught by her Aunt Tessa, and is very strong. Now, these aren't minions from Hell. Demons in this world are beings from a different dimension. There are varying levels and they are bound by a strong sense of honor. They like to bargain, and while can be personable, will also tear you apart if you screw up.

When Kara notices a trace of the arcane on her vic, she knows that her worlds are going to collide. Throw in a couple of FBI agents who might be more than they seem, an accidentally summoned demon lord, lots of action, and you have a very fun read.

Fun enough that I have stuck through them all until number 5, the recently released Touch of the Demon, and I am so, so happy I did. Throughout the series there have been hints at a greater arc and here we really see that come into play, enough that I'm going to have to re-read the series. There have been times that I wanted to shake Kara and tell her to knock off the high school romantic angst crap, but it has paid off. Maybe not romance-wise, but story-wise? Aw yeah.

Now, I can't really talk about the fifth book without being more than a bit spoilery about the first four, so you've been warned. If you don't want to be surprised at all, stop here.

Sins of the Demon (book 4) ended with one hell of a cliffhanger. Kara and Ryan FINALLY admitted they loved each other, and then Kara was sucked into the demon world.

Book 5 pretty much completely takes place in the demon world. There are no gruesome murders for Kara to solve. No hiding her use of the arcane from her coworkers. I know this might feel like anathema for strict urban fantasy fans (can it BE urban fantasy without the, well, urban?) but I thought it hit all the right notes and was completely necessary for the series moving forward. Of course I also enjoy reading all kinds of fantasy, so exploring this new dimension was a big plus. Kara's snark was still in full effect, and the story kept moving. Right now, Touch of the Demon is my favorite in the series.

Then at the halfway point - Holy Fucking Shitballs!

Note: Kara introduces the demon realm to several choice sayings in her adventures there. I have added fuckballs and shitballs to my vocabulary. I'll try to use them judiciously.

Seriously, the halfway point. Just. Gah. And I can't tell you what happened, but it was shocking, and I had to talk to a friend who also reads this series. Game. Changer.

Kara finds out that even though she is a hot shit demon summoner on earth, she still has a lot to learn, and she doesn't know as much about demons as she should. These were some of my favorite parts, with Kara getting to know more about the different kinds of demons, how the demon realm works, and what her place in it might be.

There isn't as much mystery here, other than the mystery of who can Kara trust and what is it she can really do. We're still learning about that.

On the romance front. Yeah. If you need to have romance, or you are a hardcore Ryan-Kara shipper, just look away now. I'll give you a moment.

Kara is still with Mr. Right Now, whoever that might be. It was more than a little hard to see Kara go from professing her love to Ryan and then sleeping with someone else not long after.

In a way I get it, and it is very true to character. Kara knows that Ryan is really Szerain, a demon lord, and if Ryan became Szerain again, would he still feel the same? She has doubts and can't talk to him about it. However, it is enough to make a hardened romance fan throw their hands in the air. Luckily I'm not a hardened romance fan.

It looks like we'll be spending at least part of book 6 in the demon world again, but I have a feeling it won't be long until the turmoil spills into Kara's Louisiana parish. I will be there.

Diana Rowland's website
Touch of the Demon Amazon | B&N | Kobo
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