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  • A claustrophobic read

    Four and a half I read the unique synopsis of this and then the very damning early reviews and couldn't quite align the two together in my mind. So obviously I had to discover for myself how a small group of human criminals came to be travelling across Russia with a Demon. As I began this I struggled to actually like any of the characters. Amanda is the main protagonist but she's a hard woman capable of anything and very stubborn and manipulative. Her closest friend and fellow conman is Caleb and I wanted to like him as in many ways he's a gentle giant but it's difficult to reconcile that side of him with his easy use of violence. Skeebs is the third member of their not so merry troop and he is a troubled teen who sadly is caught up in atrocities beyond his comprehension. The final character featuring here is Steph a young , ambitious Witch sadly out of her depth and the weight she carries could crush her. Now obviously there's the Demon riding with them but alas I think to state more than the fact that he's conniving and evil would ruin the surprises. This definitely gathered pace and became much darker as I read it. It's a difficult story to categorise but I think it's fair to say it delves into the various characters motivation and fleshed out their reasons for why they all ended up on the train. It's told in real time but as the characters face various challenges we get their flashback to events that set everything in motion. I actually enjoyed this breadcrumbs effect as it drew me in and kept me guessing. There are shocks and twists I hadn't seen coming and the setting just felt so claustrophobic and very unsettling. A book that if I'm brutal wasn't always as smooth as I would have liked but I truly didn't want to put it down and I think that is exactly what the author hoped for. This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair

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  • A Demon off the rails: The End of the Line by Gray

    I found the premise of this novel deeply impressive and disturbing. An uber-capitalist contemporary world where magic, practitioners of magic and Demons exist but are co-opted by those at the top and organised crime. The first few pages of this novel are a very good taste of what you're going to get. The beginning was so abrupt that I thought for a moment that I was reading a second novel in a cycle. I loved it. There are no goodies in this book, just characters who are grey to varying degrees. And a Demon who has managed to escape from the influence of his summoner who is the darkest pitch of black. Readers should also be warned that it is incredibly violent. The basic plot is a simple one, a daemon has been summoned, manages to escape, and we follow a group of shady characters, who, for various reasons, have been coerced by an organised crime boss into the attempt to eliminate him. This is no small task given his extreme powers and his ability to possess human minds and thus wreck havoc. The characters are hit and miss, our protagonist has her memorable moments, curiously it is the second time in a few months that in a modern fantasy book I have found an ethnic minority female protagonist called Amanda... Guys, yes we have to love "Amanda", but please find some more original names! On the other hand I really did like that the name given to the Demon's not fancy nor Greek nor Hebrew nor Latinate. The story lags somewhat towards the end, cycling back and forth between the same group of characters in the same confined area does get somewhat tedious. And the resolution struck me as rather contrived, but for all this, this novel has strength, the power to shock and an almost daemonic energy... One scene in particular sticks in the mind. I'm hoping for second helpings!

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