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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Demon Bound by Mejean Brook

Cover of Demon Bound by Meljean Brook

Author Meljean Brook sent me an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of Demon Bound book 6 of the Guardian Series, on the understanding that I would post a review. Hence, this review.

Before I get into the review allow me to set some background for my experience partly because I'm a geek but mostly because it's relevant to the review, as you will see. Brook sent me an electronic ARC which means my choices for reading were that I could print it out and read on paper, read it on my computer or see if I could get the ARC onto my iPhone. I chose the latter, and did successfully and quite easily load the book into Stanza, an iPhone application that also has a desktop component for loading one's own content. E A S Y. Seriously, ludicrously easy.

The reading experience on the iPhone was damn amazing. Oh my gosh. I can't stand reading without enough light and even with eyes of a certain age, I never had any eye strain or other difficulties.

Demon Bound

From the back copy:

The seductive and dangerous world of the Guardians now yields a secret that threatens the soul of a woman and the fate of the universe, both DEMON BOUND.

Among the Guardians, Alice Grey is known as the Black Widow -- a woman trapped in a web spun by the demon Teqon. To save her soul, she agreed to deliver to Teqon the heart of the oldest and most powerful Guardian of all, or else be damned for eternity. After more than a hundred years, Teqon is calling in his debt.

Jake Hawkins is a novice Guardian whose gift of teleportation could be invaluable to Alice in determining her next move. But in aligning himself with her he never expected to fall in love. Now, their passionate flight to escape Alice's damnable bargain is threatening both their souls. For they're about to discover a hellish secret about the Guardians -- something that will change their universe forever.

Jake Hawkins is a serious hottie who we see mature during the course of the story. Alice is my favorite kind of heroine; highly intelligent, capable but damaged. She's a grown up, though, who understands she has issues and is coping as best she can. (Thank you!)

Brook does a marvelous job setting up the relationship between the hero and heroine. They start out as the two people least likely to end up together, but as they're thrown together, they discover they have common passions as well as prejudices that don't hold up to scrutiny. What can a person do but work to adjust one's view of the world? The relationship arc holds up throughout without that oh so tired I'm going to leave you for you for your own good without telling you why that makes me roll my eyes in so many other stories. By the end, these two had grown and taken risks and dealt with each other like adults. They deserved their happy ever after.

The plot in which the relationship between Alice and Jake unfolds is complex and rich and Brook has a deft manner of providing the information necessary to open up the world of the Guardians without stopping her story. What I particularly like about Brook's writing is the way she shows a world that is large, contradictory and full of ambiguity. Just like real life. Good and evil change depending on the lens through which we look. Demon Bound shows us a slice of her universe while conveying the sense that there is much much more to learn.

There were a few times when I felt like I had to work harder than I should in order to decode some of the subtext behind the character's reactions. I did have to do some careful re-reading of some passages to figure out why a person was reacting in such a way. It didn't happen often, but it's a function, I believe, of the complexity of the world and length limitations. The resolution of Alice's bargain wasn't hard to see coming, but the manner in which it happened was more than sufficiently interesting and (naturally, for Brook) rich in detail, that I wasn't at all bothered by knowing, broadly speaking, how the resolution would be achieved. These are really minor issues, by the way. The story is rock solid, exciting and wonderfully rich.

Now, how much did I like this book? Hmm. You know, the iPhone fits in your hand. And it is possible, for example, to have it sitting on your desk at work while you are waiting for boring file transfers to complete or just dying to find out what the heck is going to happen next. Not me, of course, but I'm saying that's something someone could do with a book on an iPhone. Stanza opens up the book being read at the exact spot where you closed the app, so I never had to fumble to find where to start. I was able to read this book in my car (not while I was driving!) during my son's soccer practice and while lying on my bed when I should have been working on my own darn book.

Also, please let Michael's story be next. He so needs the right woman. Possibly me. I think I would be perfect for Michael. Just saying.

posted by Carolyn @ 8/30/2008 11:57:00 AM Permalink

Great review, Carolyn! I'm a huge fan of Meljean's work and every single one of your insights into this upcoming novel are exactly what has kept me enthralled in this series from the very first story. I can hardly wait to read it!

I don't want Michael's book to be next! Only because I'm pretty sure his is the last one and I don't want to see this series end! Although, I'm sure Meljean has something else amazing up her sleeve, so I probably shouldn't worry. ;)
Thanks Christine! I really enjoyed Jake and Alice's story, and I totally love Brook's work.

I think Meljean should just write a story about Michael and me where we have a major fling and he falls madly in love with me and gives me a new house and a better car and I give him the key to moving on to a healthy relationship.

If she does that, then Michael's story can be last and I can go see if Sherrilyn Keynon will put Acheron on loan to me. But all the while I'll be pining over Michael.