Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver

Genre: YA fantasy
Pages: 340 (paperback)
Published: 2011 by St Martin's Griffin
Recommended for: readers who enjoy urban fantasy and the demonic variety especially

Synopsis:
Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself – and that’s exactly what the demons are counting on…

Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper, Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father's footsteps.  The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta’s local Trappers’ Guild needs all the help they can get – even from a girl. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils – Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life’s about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen.

But then a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood.  And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, sudden tragedy strikes the Trappers’ Guild, spinning Riley down a more dangerous path than she ever could have imagined. As her whole world crashes down around her, who can Riley trust with her heart – and her life?

My Take:

This book is a sort of paranormal romance as well as a urban fantasy, jam-packed with mystery and deadly intrigue and, yes, two guys vying for our bad-ass heroine's affections.  Except that one of them wasn't, which is really what made the romantic angle unique for me.  Though The Demon Trapper's Daughter is a page-turner, it does have the distant feel of a House of Night book-- a slightly disconnected and predictable, if enthralling, plot; two love interests, one of which I can't even fathom the heroine's reasons for liking... and hell-spawn for villains.  In this case, I mean literal demons.

The fantasy part of this urban fantasy sort of fell flat for me.  I thought it was cool how the demon trappers' guild captured demons (which in Riley's alternate and futuristic Atlanta, are as common as, say, house flies) and sold them to the Vatican for profit.  But frankly, the Demon Trappers' Guild has nothing on the Shadowhunters-- the demons were vaguely Judeo-Christian types, one of whom actually sported a pitchfork (I swear), and none of whom had names or personalities whatsoever.  I miss Buffy: Giles pouring over dusty books and reading off the mythos and attributes of various demons, all the while frowning and adjusting the bridge of his glasses in the midst of his scholarly concentration.  I think Rupert Giles would become bored quite quickly with Riley's demons.  The necromancy aspect of the story was considerably more sinister, but I really can't go into that much without spouting spoilers. ;)

Now, the characters: Riley I could deal with.  She's impulsive and reckless, but her sarcasm and bad-ass-ness (she's the sole chic demon trapper in Atlanta, apprentice or not) make up for it.  But I couldn't stand her constant rudeness to and lack of appreciation for another character: Denver Beck, her dad's twenty-something partner in demon trapping and the guy who's been taking care of her whiny butt for reasons-which-shall-not-be-mentioned-in-a-spoiler-free-zone.  Beck's character is that of a backwoods boy with a rough past, but it quickly becomes clear he has a heart of gold.  Rusty gold, but still.  The book alternates between his POV and Riley's, which was a surprise, since Beck is not once mentioned in the synopsis. He speaks in a kind of Southern-ish dialogue (lots of 'yer's and 'ya's) which reminded me more of Hagrid than some of the good 'ol boys we have in the Carolinas and Georgia, but I was willing to forgive him.  I didn't hate Riley's main love interest-- Simon, her fellow apprentice in demon trapping and a NCB (Nice Catholic Boy), simply because there wasn't much to hate.  Simon was a very flat character, an angelic blond type with little personality in contrast to the quirky and caring Beck.  This book is the first in a series, so maybe Riley will wake up and realize that in the forthcoming sequel.

All this complaining aside, I really did enjoy this book-- it's fast-paced and a great just-for-fun read.  Still, it won't be making it to the Favorites Shelf.


Cover: 5/5 (fits perfectly)
Premise: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Plot: 3/5
Overall Rating: 3.5/5

6 comments:

Darcy (The Paperback Heart) said...

I love the cover for this book! I was really looking forward to reading this, but now I think I might wait a while longer before buying it.
Thanks for the great review :)

Andrea said...

Thanks for your thoughts. I want to read this because of the Atlanta stuff, but I am not going to bump it up on the reading list since it seems like the read was mediocre.

Andrea @ Reading Lark

Aylee said...

Gah, you describe Giles perfectly!! Well, if Giles would be bored then... I don't know. I might give this one a try if I can find the time (which I almost certainly will not be able to do). Awesome review though :)

Kat said...

@Aylee-- Yep, the hellspawn in this book would be a cinch for Giles and Buffy-- she'd desiccate any one of them, and she'd have time for a few dozen snarky quips while she was at it. :)

A lot of people do seem to have given this book much higher reviews, though-- so maybe it was just mediocre for me personally. Thanks for stopping by, guys!

Cait said...

Really good review, I enjoyed the analysis. The demon element does sounds very disappointing. This is something I've been wanting to read, but maybe I'll put it off in favour of something else =]

Jenny Q said...

Excellent, honest review. I still want to read this one, but I'll hope my library gets it or I can snag a freebie somewhere!

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