Fifteen-year-old Billi SanGreal never meant to make history. Dragged at the age of ten into the modern-day Knights Templar by her father, the Grandmaster, Billi’s the first girl ever to be a Templar warrior. Her life is a rigorous and brutal round of weapons’ practice, demon killing and occult lore – and a lot of bruises. But then temptation is placed in Billi’s path – an alternative to her isolated life. But temptation brings consequences. In this case – the tenth plague – the death of all first borns and so Billi must choose her destiny. And as she soon discovers, death isn’t even the worst. (from goodreads.com)
I was looking forward to reading this book. I’d recieved the sequel, Dark Goddess, for review and although I’d been assured it wasn’t necessary to read Devil’s Kiss, I decided to anyway as everyone seemed to think very highly of it. Unfortunatly I was disappointed and found Devils Kiss a bit of a struggle.
The book starts very well. Billi is confronting a demon who has possessed a six year old child. Torn between wanting to protect the little boy and knowing she would have to destroy him, I found myself very quickly being drawn into the story and the promise of an exciting, sinister and dangerous story.
However not long after this I became confused. Devils Kiss is quite a complex story involving Templar knights battling against a whole host of monsters. Werewolves, Vampires, Fallen Angels and Satan himself. The problem I had was that I never felt I really knew enough about what was going on. The premise is excellent and ambitious, however I kind of felt like an outsider while reading, not fully understanding what the Templars were about, nor the motives behind the evil forces. An idea was often presented, but not really fully explored and even by the end I still felt as though I’d only managed to skim the surface of this book, like I had only managed to grasp half the story.
I also found the characters somewhat lacking. Billi has a very difficult relationship with her father and resents him for her involvement with the Templars. This could have made her a very sympathetic character, however I felt she came across selfish and petulant. She’s supposed to be just fifteen, so these traits could be attributed to her age but then at other times she seemed far too mature, so her selfishness didn’t sit quite right. Her father is cold and focused and I didn’t really feel I got to see the passion which drove him, which would allow me to understand him. The rest of the Templar Knight characters are vague and not really used for anything other than battle scenes and so I couldn’t really understand what had brought them together or what they felt their duty was. The same goes for the villain of the story, Michael. I found him disappointing and not particularly scary or sinister, despite the atrocity he was apparently unleashing.
There’s no doubt that Sarwat Chadda writes well, particularly action scenes which I felt were very well executed, the final 60 pages being the best of the book and redeeming it somewhat for me. He has intelligent and original idea’s and Devils kiss is quite different to other paranormal stories out there at the minute. I liked how he uses different religious themes throughout the book, and found these really interesting. I think the problem for me was that there just wasn’t enough human or emotional involvement with the characters. I also feel like I needed more information and detail and felt frustrated that some questions weren’t answered by the end. Perhaps that says more about me than the book, maybe I need things spelled out for me.
Despite my criticisms, I would recommend Devils Kiss to those who like an action packed adventure and something different. It’s extremely exciting in parts and presents some original and fascinating ideas. I’ll be reading The Dark goddess next and am still hopeful of finding that connection with Billi and the Templars I just didn’t get from this book.