Friday, January 3, 2014

(W)REC(K) A BOOK: The Darkest Gate

When Elise Kavanagh retired from demon hunting, she swore it would be permanent. But an attack from a powerful necromancer forced her back into the business, and now she's trying to balance her normal boyfriend and normal job with everything supernatural.

Mr. Black is a demon hunter gone rogue. He's enslaving angels and stealing ethereal artifacts in pursuit of forbidden immortality. An old grudge drives him to make his final stand in Elise's territory. Destroying her life and killing her friends isn't the goal, but it's a definite perk.

A demonic overlord offers to join against Mr. Black and protect Elise's loved ones. All she needs to do is ally with the demons she's sworn to kill, at the cost of her morals - and maybe her immortal soul. But once she crosses that line, there's no turning back.

Nothing is sacred when Heaven and Hell collide on Earth...
- Goodreads

Loved it! But there was still some reluctance in me towards the characters again...

Elise and James set off a huge power pulse that caught everyone's attention, including an old enemy that they thought had died in a fire long ago: Mr. Black, a retired French kopis who had searched for Elise to get a special bowl for him in order to open the gateway to the angel's realm. As a young woman not even eighteen yet, Elise had given him the bowl in exchange for cash only to take it back from him, and as a result, had fled the burning house with James.

Just like the first book, this one goes back and forth between the past and present to explain what the plot is leading towards and why certain things are happening. I don't know if it's because I'm used to the style now, but it really worked for me. In the present, a little while after they kill Death's Hand, Elise finds out that her office was trashed and burned down, and that someone had been scaring her clients away. At first she believes it's this nightmare and major pain in the ass, but when her roommate Betty is attacked and their place is set ablaze, she turns to James for help.

He offers his studio for her, Betty and her normal boyfriend Anthony to use. It also happens to be the time he tells her that he and Stephanie have moved in together, and in a new home that he is reluctant to tell her more about, btw.

She's hurt that he didn't tell her, and because of that, she decides to keep all the shit that goes on to herself. She doesn't tell him about her work or credit cards. She doesn't tell him when the Night Hag recruits her to do her bidding in exchange for her loved ones' safety. She tries to do it all on her own. And that's Not. How. It's. Supposed. To. BE!

Their relationship seems even more messed up, and that depresses me. Elise is beyond annoyed with her normal bf and only has him around to pass the time or sate an itch when her hormones go a callin'. It's like she only has him around to continue the "normal living" that James so desperately yearns for. It's why he's with Stephanie. James told Elise he had a life before he had to go search for her up in Russia, but at the same time, despite him wanting the whole picket fence and everything, he still holds Elise close. When Stephanie gets offered a job in California, she tells him to move with her, but he refuses to leave Elise, so his girlfriend turns it down. But then she tells him that they should buy a house, and it's then that he realizes what she's doing: she's not just trying to get them away from all the craziness, she's trying to get him away from Elise. And on a certain level, he understands where she's coming from, because he knows how much trouble Elise is. And yet he still stays with her.

I love their bond of kopis and aspis, sword and shield. Partners. It's the purest kind of partnership, but for Elise it evolved to something more. When James found her in Russia, she trusted no one and believed that she was and would always be alone and on the defense. But he never left her side, and because of the time they spent together, she grew to love him. He became the only one she needed in life, and for a small moment in those first few years of being together, she'd been enough for him.

But now he's older and they're settled, and he tells her- he fucking tells her that she isn't enough. He wants more. He wants the life he had to put on hold for her, and that's a low blow. The whole story is basically about her having to work with demons to keep her loved ones safe and find a way to kill Mr. Black, and in between those times, we're finding out some stuff about her past and getting a front row seat at the unspoken drama between her and James.

In the end, she and James end up with an even stronger bond between each other. She'd demanded they join powers to go against the Hag but he refused because it was too dangerous. As a result, their usual short-term 'joining' became a permanent thing, and now they can sense each other's emotions and shit. She lost Betty to the bad guy's bullet, pretty much shit on Anthony, and didn't change. If anything, she only got more depressing and cold.

Okay. I loved the things we're told from this installment. While Elise is taking orders from the Hag and stalking Mr. Black, we learn that the reason why she wears gloves is to hide the symbols on her hands that mark her as.... are you ready? Godslayer. Those twelve bodies that she was found near back in Russia when James first found her? They were angels. As it turns out, she'd been held captive by a deity they call 'God' and was rescued by the twelve angels who helped her escape. They died saving her from God, the infamous 'Him' they'd referred to in the first book. Now, we don't know how she was taken by God in the first place, and the mystery about James and a possible connection to Elise's past he has is still left unchecked. However, that might be the next "reveal" we get graced with in the next installment.

We also meet an interesting character named Thom, who plays as the Night Hag's witch. Oh- FYI the Night Hag is the big boss of the area they all live in, so she's like, a big deal. Kinda like what Jean Claude is to St. Louis. Thom is unnaturally beautiful and does his own thing, playing both the "obedient" helper to the Hag and aiding Elise in odd ways. He's a powerful being and in the end tells James to watch over Elise because "she's his". O.O Oooo This might not be the last of him. I'm glad, too, cause he's kinda hot. XD

This was a 5 star rating for me, but the fifth star felt reluctant, and that's because despite enjoying this book, the characters still felt off to me. I was a little closer to feeling them, but there was still a glass wall between us. This was an improvement, but I'm wondering if it was only because of the added drama.

What I hated most in this book was that Betty died. :( Just when I was getting to like her, she dies!? Ugh, and what's worse, she was the only person that Elise may have genuinely liked, and that's a huge thing. But now she's gone and Elise is practically taking 100 steps back from her improvement in accepting others that aren't James, James or James.

The thing I found the most interesting was Elise's confrontation with James when she finally questions him about why she isn't enough for him anymore. Their situation isn't exactly shits and giggles, but she tells him that no one but him matters to her. She could easily leave everything and everyone behind. So why can't he? It made me sad (ugh deja vu) hearing James say that he wasn't getting any younger and wanted the solidity she couldn't give him, but if he feels that way, then- UGH!

I recommend this seemingly frustrating and coldly beautiful read to those who like UF, demons and angels, and sorta cold-hearted bad-assery. Elise is a little cut off from everyone not named James but at the same time gets shit done. And who knows, maybe in the next one, she'll get better.

Happy Reading :)

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