Book: The Demon Trappers Daughter
Author: Jana Oliver
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Rating: 5 Stars
Find out more about Demon Trapping
Atlanta is burning…Again. But this time it’s a Grade 3 Hellfiend raining fire down with the help of a Grade 5 Geo-Fiend. I don’t know why this gorgeous, Southern, metropolis makes it such a likely target for paranormal and urban fantasy authors to build it up and tear it down (literally) but it appears that Jana Oliver is no different.
Like her predecessors before her, Kelly Gay illustrated an Atlanta mired in a collision of magic and technology that took center stage in her stunning Charlie Madigan series. Even for the dynamic duo, Ilona Andrews, the wildly popular Kate Daniel’s series also takes place in Atlanta under the bruising crush of magic waves and ley lines that twists throughout its urban landscape.
This time around, Atlanta is the lure to Jana Oliver’s amazing YA urban fantasy debut series The Demon Trapper’s Daughter. This round, the amazingly resilient, magically-inclined city is ground zero for an impending demon war, angels gearing up for the fight and home to The Demon Trapper’s Guild-and one wily apprentice Trapper: Riley Blackthorne.
In The Demon Trapper’s Daughter, Oliver paints the world of 2018 Atlanta succumbing to the throes of a hegemonic decline. The city is corrupt and in certain sections, commerce has broken down. The school system is barely functional and educational facilities have been parceled out to other ramshackle buildings throughout the city. The astronomical price of gas has left the city’s denizens to fend getting around by bike, horse, or on foot. The rich enslave the deceased by engaging necromancers to reanimate them into zombie slaves. And in the midst of the milieu, evil has gained a foothold. Barely beating back the demons, the Guild traps the demons and sells them back to the Vatican through third-parties for money.
But the daily cycle of catch and sell for the Trappers has been only scratching the surface. Oliver in her infinite wisdom has woven a few great plotlines to keep her audience intrigued and perpetually puzzling out the next move. The intrigue over the sanctity of the City’s Holy Water supply is brilliant and a great mystery to solve. Are the Hellfiends maintaining a resistance to it? What about the undeniable ordering of the demon class amassing underneath the asphalt of the broken city? Oliver hints repeatedly that there is a greater plan to be revealed when demons ranging from Grades One to Five call out to Riley by name. How do they know who she is, and what future role will she be playing for them? Why does Ozymandias wants her father’s body? What was her father alluding to when he died? Who is Ori? And what exactly do the angels want with Riley?
Oliver’s enterprising young adult series had no problem hooking me from page one and beyond. It’s fair to say that she effortlessly dunked her pole in, and had me wiggling on the end of it. The Demon Trapper’s Daughter by far is the most surprising and solid entry into the urban fantasy arena due to a multitude of factors: accomplished and cogent world-building, the demon hierarchy which is both amusing and logical (and a bit scary too), a great leading and supporting cast, real action and great pacing, multiple plot lines interwoven in the story, romantic loose-ends, and an amazingly adult-like heroine with little angst that courageously kicks ass and repeatedly faces the odds in every way.
What makes Riley Blackthorne such an enigmatic character is her resolve. She is the only female apprentice demon trapper in a guild full of misogynistic men who pretty much resemble Grizzly Adams on a good day. She is also the daughter of the legendary Paul Blackthorne which has incited some envy on the part of some of the trappers. Her legendary father also has never let the demons get the upper hand. Yet.
Riley Blackthorne might be facing the impossible and an uncertain future with Hellfiends at the gates, but there is no doubt that she will have a legion of devoted fan girls and fan boys at her back. Myself included.
A Fiendishly Bookish review (and one grumpy cat)