Pros: Gorgeous characters and fascinating world!
Cons: Pivotal plot point revealed a little too slowly
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Since I’m way behind here (who knew cats could have so many health problems?), I’m going to give you a taste of Meljean Brook’s Guardian series universe by quoting from her online series primer before I dive into my review:
… The Second Battle took place on Earth, and Lucifer brought with him a dragon from the Chaos realm. The angels began to falter before the dragon—but mankind, witnessing the battle taking place, joined the angels in their fight against the demons. One man, Michael, destroyed the dragon by cutting through its heart with his sword. With the dragon slain, the angels regrouped and were victorious.
After the Second Battle, the seraphim retreated from Caelum and from Earth. They bestowed upon Michael the power to protect humans, and to transform into Guardians any men or women who had sacrificed their lives to save another from otherworldly threats. In addition to immortality, wings, strength, and the ability to alter their appearance, these Guardians were given individual Gifts to assist in their fight against the demons and nosferatu.
This leads to a world filled with vampires, demons, Guardians, and more. Epic battles, and epic love affairs.
In Demon Forged, (see The Guardian Series for a full listing of the novels and stories in this series), the Guardians Irena and Alejandro are forced to deal with each other again after centuries avoiding each other. A terrible tragedy involving a bargain with a demon tore them apart just when they were falling for each other all those years ago. Now they’ll have to work together, however, to deal with a deadly betrayal, a horrific prophecy, and the possibility that Hell itself is about to spill over into the mortal realm.
It’s pretty common these days to be able to dive into the middle of a series—after all, print runs are often small enough that the first book in a series might be out of print by the time the last book comes out. I would not start with Demon Forged, however. Or at least, I’d go and read that online primer first, from start to finish. Being a reviewer often results in my starting mid-way through a series simply because a publisher will send me something out of the middle of a series first, and this time I was definitely confused. (Too bad I hadn’t realized that primer was out there before-hand! But at least now you know, dear reader!) This world is very complex and detailed—in a good way—but it was tough to catch up with this far into the series. On the good side, I loved it so much that I went out and bought the rest of the books. (*shakes fist at sky* Like I need another set of books to catch up on!)
The demon bargain that tore Irena and Alejandro apart isn’t completely detailed until more than 100 pages into the book, but it’s referred to so many times before then as background that I really wished I’d understood more about it. I understand wanting to reveal something slowly, but I just ended up feeling confused, as though I was missing something. Since this isn’t discussed in the “I’m starting with Demon Forged” part of the primer, I’m guessing it wasn’t detailed in previous books, and thus reading those wouldn’t have helped in this case.
Irena is one of the things that made this such an awesome book for me. She’s a standout character. Her 1600-plus years of life have made her knowledgeable and wise in particular ways, but she’s still also the largely uneducated, blunt, even boorish woman she was in life. She’s strong, fierce, independent, sexy, and a perfect complement to Alejandro’s smooth, educated manner.
As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a fascinating chemistry and subplot between Guardian Doyen Michael and human detective Taylor. While I’m sure it would have been even better if I’d had the background of the other books, it was still quite wonderful.
Add in an epic plot that threatens to destroy the very world itself; one or two shocking betrayals; and several fascinating worlds filled with dangerous creatures; and you have a wonderful book that definitely convinced me to pick up the rest of the series!