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    Fun, light-hearted, good world building..

    "When it comes to fighting, everything's more fun with a battle lion." Okay.. okay.. for real though. What does a supernatural white lion named Rufus, an orange monkey wizard named Peli, a human / angel hybrid prince named Lincoln, and a human / angel / demon hybrid warrioress with a dragonscale tail named Myla.. have in common? You give up? One PITA Earl of Acca who goes by Aldred. You know the type.. always scheming for more power and more status, yet doesn't really know how to control what he already has. Mostly, he's just a guy with an inferiority complex that thinks having more of everything means he wins. All right.. fair enough. Usually finishing the competition with more does mean you win.. but in this guy's case, I suspect even winning is losing. 'Trickster' by Christina Bauer is the third book in the Angelbound Lincoln series. It's a rather light-hearted romp through some relatively dangerous situations. Mostly the levity is due to the 'Emergency Snark Response' system (as I like to call them), current Thraxian power couple Lincoln and Myla. He's the prince and heir to the throne of a race of demon hunters.. and she's currently the Great Scala.. the only being who can move souls to Heaven or Hell. "I haven't updated my demon notebooks in weeks. My father, the archangel Xavier, and I do that together. It's like father-daughter scrapbooking only with demons and death. Good times." In my head, Aldred is always sort of like Eggman in the Sonic games. Loud and scheming, but also cowardly and worthless.. because his plans are never that well thought out and they always get blown to bits sooner or later. But that fact, along with the fast-paced story and the steady stream of 'uh oh' moments make the books so fun that even though they're kind of silly, you want to keep reading. None of the characters are what I'd call 'deep,' well.. except in this book.. and that's Peli. Weird, I know. However, the writer knows her stuff. The story is linear, her foreshadowing is possibly overemphasized at times.. yet somehow still slow to reveal itself, and I kind of like seeing Myla sock it to the aristocrats. "The answer is yes, but I don't reply. Tirade time is not interactive." Where I think Bauer really excels, especially for a playful YA romance, is the world building. The main world that Lincoln and Myla reside in is a relatively creative build on the obvious theological ideas of Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and the human realm.. with ghouls, angels, demons, and everything else in between.. making up its citizens. This time there's also a secondary world. The Primeval is the place that Rufus and Peli both originate from. Them.. and the Contagion. He's the big nasty for this story.. a really nasty wizard in tree form, that Aldred thinks he can make some power gains from. The Primeval is a pretty ambitious design for such a fun little story. It does have a world tree angle, which I always enjoy if it's done well.. but other than that.. it's split up into 5 segments, represented by 5 diverse races of people.. each with their own beliefs, traditions, fixations, and even vastly different landscapes. But there are things they share too.. some of which cause Lincoln and Myla more trouble than expected. "Now, I'm prepared for death blows. Back stabs. Throat punches. I've just never had someone all-out donut-grab my boob before." Overall, it was a really entertaining read. Myla really does have a way with words. If you need something entertaining to get you through a rough mood or to act as a nice easy transitionary story between a couple of heavier titles, definitely pick this one up. (I received this title as an ARC. All opinions are mine and freely given.)
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