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Content/Trigger Warnings: Sexual content, kink/fetish content (see author’s summary or cw/tw page for details), anxiety, captivity/enslavement (demon mc), talk of torture, indications of trauma/PTSD, cult themes, brief mentions of underage drinking, death, murder, talk of suicide, graphic gore & violence, depictions of blood, scene of decapitation, brief mentions of drug use (in the past), attempted drugging (drugged drink), scene of emesis, scene of needles
Side Note: Please check out the author’s personal content warnings for the kink/fetish play within this book for more details before reading!
“… but within those pages, in the dark, those golden eyes still shone.”
Look, are you really surprised I found myself in this rabbit hole? Are you really surprised? It was bound to happen eventually! It has demons, Lovecraftian themes, the female lead is a paranormal investigator for Pete’s sake! The banshee screeches that have erupted from me from having this literature at my finger tips has been nothing short of an experience, to say the least. Truly, it’s been a while since I’ve had a piece of literature that felt very on brand to my soul. I loved this, I loved this so much. I had to sit a think about my rating because I was very torn and I just have to be honest, I really freaking loved this book and this might be my favorite series to have demons in it thus far.
We follow the perspective of Leon, a demon who’s summoned and held captive by the local cult of Abelaum, Libiri, run by Kent Hadleigh, the head of one of the founding families in this small town. With the grimoire, the last known book with a physical record of Leon’s name, in Kent’s hands, Leon is forced to do the cult’s bidding. That’s until the grimoire goes missing. Enter our second perspective of paranormal investigator, Rae. A college student moving back to her hometown after being gone for seven years. With the promising potential of paranormal activity and whispers of strange creatures being seen in the local woods, Rae is determined to catch real paranormal activity on camera to help boost her blog and of course, finish her last year at university. So when her best friend, Inaya hands her a grimoire, suddenly Rae may be having second thoughts of being thrown into the world of the paranormal… or she just might be falling pretty damn hard in love with it.
These characters were absolutely fantastic read about! The duo perspective in this book definitely added to my enjoyment of these characters. Between our two main characters, Leon stood on the most to me. Not only is his personality very attention catching, but there were so many passages in this book that just hit home for me. When Leon would talk about wanting to find the grimoire and how much he values his freedom, it instantly, made me think of Genie from Aladdin. In the movie, there’s a conversation between Aladdin and Genie about the wishes and Aladdin asks Genie what they would wish for to which Genie responds with, “Freedom. But, oh, to be free! To be my own master. Such a thing would be greater than all the magic and all the treasures in all the world.” It made me really connect with Leon’s character, really love and appreciate his character build, and I don’t think that was the author’s intention when writing Leon’s character, but oh I couldn’t help myself from seeing the resemblance. On the other hand, Rae was an okay character for me. Honestly, I thought I would enjoy her character more, but there were parts in this book where I was just like, “I can’t deal with you.” I do like that she’s a paranormal investigator and how passionate she is about that, and I adore her cat, Cheesecake.
“I’ll rip Heaven and Hell and this goddamn Earth apart before I let them steal you from me.”
Speaking of characters, there’s some really amazing side characters we get to witness in this book. I freaking adore Zane. Zane is like a calmer, more level headed demon compared to Leon. However, Zane’s relationship with Leon was perfection. I’m very hungry for a novella talking about their past and their relationship to one another because they’re such a dynamic duo in their own way. There’s also Inaya, she’s not only best friends to Rae, but she runs her own bookstore, Golden Hour Books. Her character was absolutely wonderful and I would have loved to see more of her in this book. Plus, the few times we do meet her, you can tell how much she cares about all of her friends and just how far she’d go for them. And of course, I have to mention Everly because I just want to know so much more about her. I mean, she’s a witch and she’s here to rock this world! Before I forgot, I need to talk about Kent. Kent is a terrible character and he reminds me so, so much of Joseph from Dream Daddy. If you know, you know. Kent just gives me all the bad vibes and honestly, he made for a good villain in this book.
I want to circle back to Leon and his constant focus on his freedom. Not only is there such a heavy emphasis on demons valuing their freedom, but with Leon there’s an underlying theme of trauma/PTSD. Not just that trauma, but how after all of that you can still find love, happiness, or contentment. We see this theme unfold from both perspectives. We have Leon who has spent centuries being tortured and used only to find sanctuary with Rae. Rae’s side of things is different because she’s just dealing with a break up, but we see this escalate with how everything unfolds for Rae throughout this book. We see how this very snarky demon becomes a sanctuary for her in the chaos of all of this. I think the trauma/PTSD representation is done very well even though it’s subtle and not many readers have picked up on it. And I want to say that this is one of those relationships where two broken individuals can heal one another and have a good relationship with one another.
There’s also an entire theme of consent throughout this book. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but consent is super attractive. From the very beginning, Leon constantly asks if Rae is okay with the things they do intimately and constantly makes sure she knows the safe word before anything even happens. I don’t know about anyone else, but I love characters who check to make sure they’re comfortable or they’re okay with proceeding into more spicy things. It’s super attractive and often times in a lot of romance or erotica they’re just instantly jumping into the sheets. I really enjoyed how the author gave us spice, but also made sure to sprinkle the consent in throughout this book.
“You’re a light in the dark, and I’ve been in the dark a vert long time.”
Speaking of spicy scenes, this book has a lot of spicy scenes, If you thought there were only going to be a few scenes sprinkled in then guess what, that’s not the case here! It was a fun time for me and the entire time I was just hyped. However, I will say the scene where Leon was giving Rae her piercings was not my thing. For me, that was very triggering just due to my own bad experience, but I do like how the author tried to give this scene balance of it not only being about the that whole commitment, but Leon and Rae becoming closer to one another. So I think this will be one of those hit or miss things for many readers.
If I had to fault this book on anything, it would have to be Rae’s character. Look, it has to be said, Rae made some really questionable choices and acted really reckless a lot of the time. Actually, I liked Rae’s character up until the last handful of chapters. It was like the closer it got to the end of the book, Rae just got more naive and was making really poor choices. It was frustrating a lot of the time and as I mentioned earlier, it made it really hard to like her character. Also, it almost painted Rae in a light of hypocrisy because she’s not only a paranormal investigator, but she’s also a horror lover and the way she acts is entirely different to most horror and paranormal lovers I know. I think a lot of readers are going to feel frustrated with her character and wish that she had been structured different especially near the end of this book.
“But with your soul, death can’t touch you. The God can’t touch you. Nothing, nothing will take you from me.”
Overall, I had a really fun time buddy reading this with my friend. It was such a captivating read and I love the pre-setup we get to see for the second book in this series. I’m just hyped about this whole series, okay! I usually don’t read a lot of dark romances, but if and when I do, I always want them to have snarky demons in it. I think many lovers of dark romance are going to enjoy this book and this whole series. I hear book two has to do with Zane and I can’t begin to express how excited I am about this!
Buddy Read with Destiny ♥