Sunday, June 24, 2012

YA Book review: Soul Thief (Demon Trappers series, Book 2) by Jana Oliver

Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (August 30, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0312614799
ISBN-13: 978-0312614799

Blurb: Riley Blackthorne is beginning to learn that there are worse things than death by demon. And love is just one of them…

Seventeen-year-old Riley has about had it up to here. After the devastating battle at the Tabernacle, trappers are dead and injured, her boyfriend Simon is gravely injured, and now her beloved late father’s been illegally poached from his grave by a very powerful necromancer. As if that’s not enough, there's Ori, one sizzling hot freelance demon hunter who’s made himself Riley’s unofficial body guard, and Beck, a super over-protective “friend” who acts more like a grouchy granddad. With all the hassles, Riley’s almost ready to leave Atlanta altogether.
But as Atlanta’s demon count increases, the Vatican finally sends its own Demon Hunters to take care of the city’s “little” problem, and pandemonium breaks loose. Only Riley knows that she might be the center of Hell’s attention: an extremely powerful Grade 5 demon is stalking her, and her luck can't last forever…

My thoughts: Apprentice demon trapper Riley can't catch a break. Her dad, Paul, is dead, killed by a Grade 5 demon and despite her careful watch, his body has been stolen. The Atlanta Guild  is still sorting through the ashes of the decimated Tabernacle and the bodies of their lost trappers after the demon attack. Riley's boyfriend, Simon, is recovering in the hospital and she is still trying to adjust to life on her own, without her father. Beck has his moments and can be caring when he's not annoying her. Hope. Love. Reanimation. Revelations. Betrayal. Soul Thief shows when darkness tries to take over your life, you can either succumb to it or you can fight. 

This second installment is a stellar example of when a series is well written, readers don't need to take time and wonder what's going because information is missing--they just read straight through because everything they need to know is there. That's what I did, loving every heart- breaking, hand-wringing, leg-shaking, moment. Riley is incredibly strong for a seventeen year old orphan, surrounded by men from the Guild. She has her best friend, Peter, but he has family problems of his own and she doesn't want to unload on him. When Simon returns home, he is not the same young man he was before the attack. He is haunted and suspicious and he takes it out on Riley. Breaking up is difficult when you have a huge heart, but then Riley sees just how nice hunter Ori is to her. After all, he saved her life. Could she let him into her own confused one? Besides, Beck is busy with a pretty reporter and working with Master Stewart. He doesn't want her around, thinks she's safer with her mean aunt in Fargo. No matter what's going on, the hellspawn have a plan, the Vatican's SWAT-esque demon trappers are in town, and a war is looming on the horizon.

There are series and there are series. I tore through Soul Thief like Edward and Bella trekking through the woods. Ups and downs, genuine surprises, heart-pounding action and jaw-dropping revelations, Soul Thief was even better than the first Demon Trappers book. My love for Riley and Beck only grew as did my fondness for Peter, Master Stewart, witch Ayden and Summoner Advocate Mortimer Alexander. The introduction of the Vatican hunters enriched the story by giving us history and showing us how the professionals take down demons. We also get closer to the mystery of why the demons only refer to Riley by her name and exactly who, or what, Ori is. The climatic scene at the cemetery threw me for a loop and Jana Oliver did it again--surprised me, entertained me and cemented me as a definite fan.

Rating: 4.5 Wonderfully dark and exciting

Favorite excerpt: So many good scenes, here's one of my utmost favorites.
"Beck snorted. He angled his head toward where her ex-boyfriend sat on the other side of the tent. "No need to hang around for him anymore. He's moved on. That sure didn't last long, did it?"

Ouch. Riley knew they should step away from this before someone went too far, but the need to retaliate became overwhelming.

"I'm not staying at the church from now on," she announced. "Ori's watching over me. He won't let anything happen. He'll get that Five, you wait and see."

A chuff of disgust came her way. "Bull . . .shit. Pretty boys like that don't know jack when it comes to demons. They're just flash."

Riley leaned closer to her father's favorite trapping buddy, eager to spear his insufferable arrogance in its heart. "Ori was the one who saved me from the Five at the Tabernacle."

"What?" Beck spouted.

"You heard me." She let three seconds pass before delivering the verbal knife-thrust between his ribs. "He was there for me when it counted, Beck. So where were you?"

Cover comment: This is probably my favorite of the covers. The picture is spot-on and represents everything monumental that goes on in the book. Riley's pose, her sneakers, the headstones, yeah, this is my favorite.

Book source: Purchased.

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