Saturday, 22 January 2011

Review: Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda

My edition: Paperback, published in 2009 by Puffin Books, 279 pages.

Description: Billi SanGreal is having her Ordeal. The last test before her initiation. But she hadn't expected this. Not killing a little kid.

Billi is destined to follow her father into The Order and protect the masses from the Unholy. From the thousands of evil, tortured souls that prey on humanity.

Billi is fifteen. Is a life of brutal fighting and deadly combat really what she wants? Or is temptation threatening to lead her astray..

Review:

I have to admit that Devil's Kiss is one of those books that has been on my to-read shelf for well over six months. I know, I know, but in my defence the shelf is ever growing and I usually pick my books off of it at random so it's not that I wasn't interested in reading it. I was in fact excited about it ever since I heard author Sarwat Chadda speak at Foyles bookstore in London back in June. There were several authors present and I initially went to the event for someone else but Chadda managed to make his book sound so fantastic I immediately purchased a copy (and not just so I could get it signed - though that was a nice bonus!).

I initially assumed the novel to be another one in a million supernatural romance as the genre has exploded in the last few year. Nothing wrong with that, but nothing overly spectacular either. However it blew me away from the moment I read the words "Knights Templar" (which, I'm pretty sure, was somewhere in the first chapter) and I saw some of the names of the characters that corresponded to Arthurian Legends (Arthur, Percival and Gwaine) - as both the Arthurian Legends and the Knights Templar are two topics I've always been incredibly fascinated by. And it only got better from that point on.

Chadda manages to combine not only the history and myth surrounding the Templars and King Solomon, but in this novel he also includes a wide array of supernatural creatures, from the currently more popular vampire like beings to lesser known monsters such as ghuls and grigori. On top of that he adds a huge dose of Christian references as well as various other religions and even astronomy makes its appearance. Surprisingly combining all that the story doesn't become overwhelming or confusing, no it actually works together. Brilliantly so even.

The book is also seeped in detailed descriptions of London (where it all takes place) and history, which manages to give the reader the feeling that they're walking in the footsteps of main character Billi. And besides the obvious supernatural storyline there's a second layer going into the relationship of Billi and her father that's very fascinating. More so because in the end it turns out that there is a far more important reason behind the way they act towards one another.

The only minor criticism I have is that I found the prophecy very general and vague. It could've meant anyone so I think the Knights jumped to conclusions there. But as I said, it's only a minor criticism and it didn't bother me while reading the book, I only thought of it afterwards.

In conclusion: I can't wait to pick up the sequel The Dark Goddess, which hopefully won't gather dust for six months on my to-read shelf before I start reading it!

9/10

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