Monday, July 06, 2009

Darkness Calls - Marjorie M. Liu

Darkness Calls
Hunter Kiss, Book 2
Marjorie M. Liu

Urban Fantasy

Note: If you haven’t read the first book in this series, IRON HUNT, there will be some unavoidable spoilers in this review. Be aware that this series contains a lot of graphic language and gore, but it’s all appropriate to the characters and circumstances.

Maxine Kiss is a demon hunter; a Warden of the prison behind the veil between the worlds. The problem is, that veil is getting weaker and the demons are getting stronger. It’s only a matter of time before the veil falls and the world is inundated with demons of all kinds. Maxine does all she can to contain the threat on this side of the veil. Plenty of humans are possessed by demons. The demons use the human bodies to commit crimes. If Maxine can get rid of the demon, sometimes the otherwise-innocent human will still be convicted of the crimes, even though the human will have no memory of the events. This is the balancing act required to keep humanity safe.

Maxine has help in her work. Her “boys,” her tattoos that cover her during the day, creating impenetrable armor, but roam free as little demons at night. The “boys” have protected the women in Maxine’s line back through time unknown. They know, somehow, when it’s time to move from mother to daughter, leaving the mother vulnerable. Maxine also has Grant, a former priest who runs a homeless shelter in Seattle. Her entire childhood was spent in cars and motel rooms, so the past six months spent with Grant are both sweet and unfamiliar. She feels like she should be moving, not putting down roots, but there’s plenty of work for a demon hunter in any major city.

The story really begins when Grant gets a visit from a Father Cribari. Cribari brings news that one of Grant’s friends, Father Ross, now in China, has changed. Father Ross, once a good priest, slaughtered three nuns before he was captured. Cribari knows about Grant’s talent (he can see and hear in colors, using music to heal bodies and souls) and believes Grant is evil and should probably be killed. All that is secondary to Grant, who is desperate to help his friend. He knows that Ross is probably possessed and hopes that his music can bring back the friend he once knew.

After this, the book is really a series of set pieces designed to move Maxine around to different places and put her in contact with various individuals. This is not necessarily a bad thing. There’s plenty of action, and we find out a lot more about Maxine, her history, and quite a bit about Grant. Maxine’s grandfather, Jack, also figures in, and his history is quite interesting. There’s lots of moving around and fighting in the first half of the book, but it all leads to some fascinating explanations (and even more action) in the second half. I think readers who start here may feel a bit lost, but the author does a fine job of filling in the necessary blanks. There’s clearly much more to come, and I’m interested to see what happens next.

Rating: 7
July 2009
ISBN# 978-0-441-01730-0 (paperback)


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