Review: “Demon Slayer,” Linsey Hall

Pros: Plenty of enjoyable action and snark
Cons: Still predictable; some missteps
Rating: 3 out of 5

Linsey Hall’s Demon Slayer (Dragon’s Gift: The Sorceress) is book one of “The Sorceress,” but past book 30 of her “Dragon’s Gift” universe. I highly recommend that you read the rest of the series first; it’s quick reading and they’re all available as ebooks, so you can get to them quickly. I think the world is just complicated enough at this point that it would be hard to start here. This new installment in the series concentrates on two characters we’ve seen in the background of the other books: Aerdeca and Mordaca, the Blood Sorceresses. They’re powerful, strong-willed, and elegant. As it turns out, they’ve also been hiding some secrets: they have dragon blood, and they’re on the run from their family, who forced them to misuse their powers. For now we’re focused on Aerdeca, who is icily blond and always wears white. Another secret she and her sister keep is that they work for the Council of Demon Slayers, hunting and killing demons. Aerdeca is trying to hunt down a necromancer demon, and a handsome fallen angel named Declan, a powerful bounty hunter, keeps getting in the way. He’s determined to take the demon alive. Can they hunt down the necromancer demon before he reaches his goal and starts raising an army of zombies?

If you’ve read the series, some things are highly predictable and formulaic. The main characters will have wildly powerful abilities. The stacked and handsome guy who immediately captures the main character’s attention will become the love interest, he’ll be muscular, wildly powerful, and able to produce large amounts of cash at will. The characters will have to pass various creative and somewhat arbitrary tests. An endearing and silly familiar of a sort will present itself–this time, a hellcat named Wally. The characters will have to elude traps like Indiana Jones, in a format that even Aerdeca refers to as a “living video game from hell.” However, the predictability also yields some good things. Each book has plenty of creative action scenes; the fight scenes are a lot of fun to read. There’s enjoyable snark and banter and some romantic sparks. The books are solidly fun to read, and having a series that reliable can be really nice. On the other hand, after this many volumes Hall is stretching so much to find new and interesting trials to put our heroes through that even her characters have started acknowledging how ridiculous some of them are getting:

“Weird test,” I said.
She shrugged. “I’m bored.”

I took issue with just how powerful Aerdeca and Mordaca really are. Sometimes Hall gives her characters abilities that she can’t entirely account for. In this case, they can supposedly use their dragon blood to create new powers for themselves–temporary and permanent. Their powers are pretty much limited only by their energy level and imaginations. Give me a D&D rules lawyer and ten minutes and pretty much every obstacle in this book would be meaningless. At one point Aeri explicitly says, “If only my dragon blood could give me the FireSoul’s ability to find things.” Well? Why can’t it?

I’m definitely enjoying getting a closer look at Aerdeca and Mordaca, especially since it seems they’ve been keeping up quite a front. I just wish that in the rush to make her characters super-powerful Hall wouldn’t back herself into these corners. A little variety in the cookie-cutter love interests would also be nice.

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