Note on the cover – I noticed they changed the cover font from blue and white to half silver (to resemble molten silver) and half white (like sprinklings of salt) – Love it.
The Premise: Allie is an ex-spoiled rich girl. The kind of rich that meant a mansion in Long Island, designer clothes and accessories, and two equally spoiled and rich best friends, Amanda and Stan, who grow up next door. The day her mother stole all their money and ran away to Brazil with her lover Rio, Allie suddenly had to grow up. She had to take a job as a waitress in diner in Brooklyn. After her first day at Sally’s Diner, Allie, Amanda, and Stan perform a silly ritual in a fit of drunkenness which ends up opening a Door to Hell in the basement of the diner. Immediately a Stetson-wearing demon hunter, Ryan appears. This was six years ago. Allie has grown up, taken over management of the diner, and on the side she helps Ryan kill demons that escape from the Door. Until one day the Door in the diner’s basement suddenly disappears and she and Ryan have to find out what happened.
My Thoughts: The narrative is in the first person and is really informal – almost stream of consciousness, and full of swearing and sarcasm. It almost seemed young adult but not quite. After thinking about it I decided it was the voice of a young twenty-something, and it’s a BIG part of whether you will enjoy the book. If the voice here isn’t for you, you won’t like it, so I highly recommend reading the excerpt of chapter one.
The world here is ours except there are Doors to Hell which every so often let out creatures that the door guards kill. Normal people (the mundanes) don’t know about it and just keep living their lives. I won’t go into more detail than that, but I thought that the world building was really organic – you learn as the story goes along, with Allie not ignorant, but kept uninformed of certain facts from the hunters until she needed to know. The demons and monsters that Allie runs into all have basis in mythology and a wide variety of beliefs. For example there are different versions of Hell and it was really fascinating how characters reacted to what they saw in the Hells according to what they believed.
Allie has grown up but her two friends from her old life have not. She holds on to them because she remembers that they were there for her when she became poor, but you get the feeling she keeps in contact because of loyalty, not because she actually likes them. It’s an interesting situation, and it’s sort of a coming of age aspect that you don’t usually see in adult urban fantasy. This also works with the story because Amanda and Stan’s selfishness and immaturity affect what’s going on with the Doors. I think it explains Allie’s voice too. She may have grown up but her thoughts sometimes channel Cher from Clueless, but not in a way that made me dislike her. I actually really liked Allie’s character because of what she’s gone through, and because she came out with a wish to be a better person. She can’t hate the Door under Sally’s Diner because she knows it brought her Ryan and fighting it has also made her a more mature person.
The romance is a decent chunk of the story, but Ryan and Allie’s relationship has been an ongoing one so a lot of the falling in love seemed to have happened before the book even starts, with some flashbacks to key scenes and the only barrier is Ryan’s admitting that he feels anything (Allie on the other hand admits freely that she has a huge crush). A lot of the book happens before it starts, with flashbacks used to show how things have changed over the years, not just with their relationship, but with Allie’s relationship with Stan and Amanda. Ryan’s reasons for not acting on his feelings for Allie were believable (though I didn’t agree with him), so I found it understandable why he kept pushing Allie away even when it’s obvious he really likes her. When the relationship heats up, I guess it is “finally” for a lot of other characters, but because this book doesn’t really show all 6 years up to that point, to me it was a little surprising. I thought it would take longer for Ryan to break down, he acts very standoffish when the book begins, but by chapter two his soft center regarding Allie begins to show, so apparently six years was enough. I liked this couple, especially Allie, but I wasn’t a fan of Allie begging Ryan with “Please” during certain scenes.
Overall: Really liked this one – I had a hard time putting it down and it was a fast read. It has a bit of a quest in different dimensions in it which is something I like reading (looks like the authors enjoy researching magic and superstition), and the romance was sweet – good friends becoming more. The voice is different so do go read the excerpt before you buy. This isn’t a standalone, it’s the beginning of a series, but I think that other books may focus on other characters in this world if I read the authors comment’s on it here right, so you can probably treat this as almost a standalone. The ending is in a good, satisfying place and I’m definitely putting whatever else Anna Katherine writes on my wish list.