Plot: Starting off moving swiftly, the reader is thrown into the action. The author keeps the tension high through intense characters, members of an ancient order who are tasked with saving the world from demons.
Prose: The prose is propulsive and engaging, if at times overly exuberant in its tone.
Originality: Though demons are hardly an original subject matter, the author creates an intriguing, atmospheric blend of urban fantasy and thriller, and offers some unique worldbuilding throughout.
Character/Execution: Steven is passionately devoted to his cause, which is readily conveyed through the prose and the tense events that transpire. The antagonist in the story is similarly well-portrayed.
Date Submitted: August 10, 2022
While categorized as urban fantasy, and featuring a classic clash involving cults and demonic powers, the novel tilts into religious and political thriller territory, with institutional conspiracies, an interest in Templars and the histories of the Crusades, and much in-depth diplomatic tug-and-pull as Steven and his allies try to secure political legitimacy for the Ordo Solis. Readers expecting traditional urban fantasy may feel that material takes too much page time away from the exciting battle between Steven and the Soulstealer. However, Boulware’s well-developed characters and skillful establishing of context and stakes keep the material dynamic and clear, even for readers who haven’t read the first book.
Steven’s excitement at teaming up with a professor who calls vaguely described legislation concerning gender and pronouns a “mask of evil” is certain to alienate many contemporary readers, and Boulware’s choice to block out vowels in profanity with asterisks is curious, as the words themselves still bloom fully in the reader’s minds. Readers onboard with these choices will find that Boulware keeps things moving, his compact prose style exemplified by short, quick chapters and to-the-point scenecraft, and that Steven’s battle to save the world is pivoted well against his desire to save the love of his life, creating well-balanced tension that keeps the pages turning.
Takeaway: A religious thriller with a splash of urban fantasy, ancient orders, and a clash between good and evil.
Great for fans of: Joseph Nassise, C.S. Johnson.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A