The Premise: After the events of the Symbol Man murders, Kara Gillian returns to work and immediately runs into more murders with an otherworldly slant. First there is a dead cop, killed by what looks like suicide, but Kara sees that his Essence has been brutally torn from his body. Shortly thereafter, she sees the same thing in a seemingly unrelated case, in a death that looks like an accident. Kara knows that there’s some link between the deaths but she doesn’t know what it is.
***There may be MINOR SPOILERS OF THE FIRST BOOK FROM THIS POINT ON ***
My Thoughts: This book continues with the same strength that I thought the first book had, which was the attention to the details involved in a police investigation. I think that the author’s background in law enforcement lends an authenticity to the story that I don’t always see. There’s a great balance between Kara’s legwork and her having to do mundane things like paperwork or laundry. That’s not to say that there is ever a dull moment, rather that, with murders piling up and Kara’s dealings with the demon world, the routine tasks served to keep the story grounded and stop the pace from being too breakneck to enjoy the story. Having a heroine with real life tasks is refreshing!
I also liked that Kara is slowly changing her life from book to book. The big thing is that she’s made friends over the course of the two books. In Mark of the Demon, Kara was a loner out of necessity, but she finds a kindred spirit in Ryan who has some sensitivity to the arcane. On top of that, there are some people are more open to the idea of what she does than first thought. She had friends in Blood of the Demon who she could trust in difficult situations, and they weren’t just love interests or people who serve to give her important information in her investigation. Kara actually relies on them emotionally and they are a good support system when she has things to worry about.
In both books there’s a love triangle which is not really a love triangle. In one corner is FBI agent Ryan Kristoff (who Kara isn’t ashamed to tell the reader she’s interested in). Ryan and Kara have a close friendship that’s developed quickly, and Kara likes him, but there’s more to Ryan than it appears. I’m rooting for the two of them to get together but I know it’s going to take a while. In the other corner is the Demon Lord Rhyzkhal. The demon lord is pretty much the ultimate sexy badboy, and there’s obvious sexual attraction, but Kara makes it clear there’s no possibility of a romantic relationship. Rhyzkhal’s a demon after all (He has his own agenda and Kara is a tool for him, not a partner). Instead he’s more like.. a great big cause of conflict between the two law enforcement agents (and reason why this book has a higher heat factor than your usual urban fantasy). I think he’s going to be a huge mistake for Kara, and it’s interesting how this whole thing is going to play out. I feel like it could be OK, it could be a trainwreck, and I can’t wait to see which it will be (the third book is tentatively titled Secrets of the Demon and is being published by DAW rather than Bantam. There’s 5 books contracted in total so far I believe).
Oh and one other thing. When I was reading this book, I had the weirdest feeling that I was misremembering parts of Mark of the Demon. Why? Well, I don’t really remember Kara being as self-aware in the first book as she is in this one. I don’t remember her admitting to wanting more than just friendship with Ryan. I mean, it’s great that she is now, but it seemed out of the blue. I went to look at the first book, and I couldn’t find anything besides her thinking he was cute, but perhaps I’m still missing it. I was also surprised by her explanation of what happened between her and Rhyzkhal. In the first book she has sex with him, and in this book she admits why. While I thought she was rash and her choices are going to bite her in the butt, I ended up respecting her character for being honest to herself about what she was doing. And I could understand the reasons why she made those rash choices.
Overall: I’m continuing to recommend this urban fantasy series for its mix of detective mystery and magic. The heroine was someone I could connect to, there’s a love interest to root for, and the true-to-life details about police investigations are a strong suit.