REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Demon Bound by Meljean Brook
Meljean Brook has offered 20 copies of her books to random commenters to this post. This giveaway will stay open until November 7, 2008, at 11:59 PM EST.
I first “met” Meljean Brook via her blog back in 2006. Maybe it was 2005. I found her blog to be wry and self deprecating. I didn’t realize she was an author because at that time her first book had yet to be released. Demon Angel, her first book, would not be published until January of 2007. After months of visiting Meljean’s blog, I became comfortable in her online “voice” and once I learned she was an author, I built up expectations about what her book would read like.
Reading Demon Angel was expectation dashing, but in a surprisingly good way. Meljean’s online voice (which is much like her true personality, I think) is full of sly humor and self mockery. Her authorial voice is quite different. Her books are dark with tortured characters dealing with life and death conflicts. The stakes are high and so is the drama.
Demon Bound is not my favorite Brook book. I told Meljean that right after I had read the advanced copy (she asked, I did not offer it unsolicited). I worried that it would be too confusing for readers who were not familiar with the series because Meljean places her readers in such high regard that she does not engage in any info dumping. I think her books could use a little info dumping because of their complexity. My biggest complaint in this book, and in others, is that her storytelling is so dense at times that I don’t truly gather the import of all the details until a second read through. Perhaps that is more of a mark against my impatience as a reader.
So how can I recommend this and support a giveaway here at Dear Author? It’s because Meljean’s books, even when they are marked as “least” favorite are really marvels and I hope more people read her.
Demon Bound is the story about a young Guardian in training, Jake Hawkins, whose gift is one of the rare ones of teleportation. He’s been trained by Ethan but he’s much like the puppy that Lilith calls him. He’s awkward on the one hand, powerful and magnetic on the other. He’s often loose with his mouth, stumbling over his words and causing offense where none is intended, but his youthfulness is also an asset because, not knowing his limits allows him to test himself in ways that an older, more jaded person would not.
Speaking of older, jaded people, meet Alice Grey. Alice is an older Guardian, from the Victorian time. She’s not quite shaken off the mores of her human time and she is in a devil of a conundrum. Alice must either kill the leader of the Guardians, Michael, or damn herself to eternal torture in hell. She’s been seeking a way to save her soul for decades but hasn’t found one and the time to fulfill her bargain to a demon is coming due. Her years living under the Sword of Damocles has leached out the color in her life. She’s called the Black Widow and not just for her penchant for wearing unrelieved black clothing. Jake, the irreverent, foul mouthed, beyond sexy young man can’t seem to get enough of her.
Meljean does such a great job of portraying the characters in the smallest of details such as the clothing that Alice wears as symbolic of her gift, her time in history, and her outlook on life. There is the youthful hopefulness that believes that nothing is ever so dire that a solution cannot be find and there is also the aging cynic who believes that years of searching means that the only solution is a bad one. Those are two eternal conflicts that wrestle within ourselves. Hope and despair. Heaven and hell. Love and loss. Alice and Jake serve as perfect foils for each other. Alice tempering Jake’s impetuosity and Jake infusing a new joie de vivre that had been eaten away in Alice’s life by her dreadful bargain.
The story is full of wonderful imagery from mountain caves in Tunisia to the fairytale structures in Caelum, a heaven like structure (although it has no electricity and can heaven really be heaven without the internet?). Where the story struggles is in its complicated plotting. I don’t know that I have always been able to follow the bargains, lies and ultimate triumphs of the characters. I know that it happens, but I don’t always have it worked out in my mind how. I wish I could have had greater clarity from time to time on certain issues. That said, the character study in this story is wonderful and different. B
I want to end the review with a caveat. It is true that I consider Meljean a friend. I have met her once and probably engage in a round of emails with her once or twice a month. I try to be as unbaised as possible in my reviews, but given that some people do take our recommendations to heart, I wanted you all to know that. I suggest reading the excerpt on Meljean’s site to see if her work is for you. Otherwise, leave a comment below to win a free copy. You might just become a fan of Meljean’s writing too.