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>Devil’s Kiss

November 2, 2010

>Devil’s Kiss, by Sarwat Chadda, is a YA novel, the first of a series, that mixes together Arthurian legend with Templar mythology and then tosses in a handful or two from Paradise Lost, with just a pinch of the Crusades. I enjoyed it, but felt like I’d sampled from the pot before.

There are a few new spices in this recipe. The Templars, in this world,
“had been formed to defend the Holy Land, but that battle had been lost long ago. Their war wasn’t for Jerusalem, not anymore, but for mankind’s soul. Their war was against the supernatural evil that preyed on humanity.”
Okay–an obsolete order fighting imaginary evil. Got it, kids? We’re going to throw some Latin in here (a la Rowling) and call it “The Bataille Tenebreuse.”

There’s even some reasoning for why the modern Templars have to train with ancient weapons:
“Immortal didn’t mean unkillable. Not even a ghul walked away from having its head chopped off. It was one of the main reasons the Order still trained with hacking weapons.”
I like a story that at least attempts to explain why you can’t just shoot the suckers.

There’s a predictable bad boy who taps into the heroine’s teenage angst and need to rebel against her father. But since the boy’s name is Mike and he’s described in angelic terms, while the father’s name is Arthur and he has a big sword, you know who has the heroine’s best interests at heart. The heroine, by the way, has an Arabic name and goes by “Billi,” which shows you, I guess, that you won’t be able to guess which way she’ll jump.

I get to add this to my list of books in which necromancy doesn’t pay (on the sidebar):
She didn’t know the book still existed. It was a book of necromancy, the darkest maleficia.
“Where d’you get it?” She stared at it warily, as if it were some deadly dormant creature.
“Off some fool who thought he could summon the devil,” said Arthur.
“You’re joking, of course.”
Arthur looked at her. It wasn’t his joking face.
“What happened to him?”
“Something bad,” said her dad in the tone that meant the conversation was over.

Later, “Billi had read enough about necromancy to know what might happen if things went wrong.” And we know they always do.

There’s a prophecy, and no one is able to interpret it correctly, and so the ending is a surprise after all. It’s a quick read, and if you already know you like these flavors, it’ll go down easy.

For a more sensitive and nuanced review, try this one at Bookgazing. It shows you more of how an actual young adult reacts.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 2, 2010 4:59 pm

    >Oh how flattering but I'm not young enough to be a young adult any more (although in my head I'm still 17, waiting to get busted by bouncers for having no ID). I am the youngest person in our company though so still young, wuhu ;)And I think I avoid books like this usually which is probably part of why it felt fresh to me. All anyone has to say is Templars and I'm off because Labyrinth scared me off with its nonsensical storyline. I wouldn't have picked this one up but for a recommendation from another blogger. And I'm glad this lends weight to your theory that necromancy never pays. It is a lot of grissly fun to imagine just what bad thing might have happened to the man who tried to summon the devil.

  2. November 2, 2010 5:13 pm

    >Jodie,You're younger than I am…I was thinking that the intended audience wouldn't react the way I did.I think there's a scene in one of the Bartimaeus books where he describes what happens to a human who doesn't get the protective circle drawn right before calling up a demon. That's my picture of what happens to a necromancer. Oh, that and the picture of the "doomed necromancer" on my sidebar!

  3. November 3, 2010 4:59 pm

    >Jodie's enthusiasm is catching, isn't it? Yesterday I had the title of this author scribbled on a piece of paper to take to the library with me before I read your review, because I'd found out–wonder of wonders–our little branch had Devil's Kiss on the shelf. I'm saving it for a reward after a mound of nasty paperwork. We'll see if I'm still a "young adult" at heart. It changes from day to day for me. Or book to book.

  4. November 3, 2010 6:57 pm

    >Trapunto, I did enjoy reading it; I'd say it's about perfect as a reward.

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