Devil's Kiss

Posted by Cobalt | Posted in , , , | Posted on 9:53 PM

Rating: 3/5 stars

Okay, so it definitely starts well:

"Killing him should be easy; he's only six."

And we're off with a bang, plunged into the world of Billi SanGreal, 15-year old girl and initiate to the ancient order of the Knights of Templar -- not that she wants to be. A lifetime of killing demons, devils, and assorted nasty spirits only sounds glamorous to the ignorant and the idiotic. Billi knows the truth: to be a Knight is to face death every day, to train until your body collapses, and most of all, to devote yourself utterly to the holy mission. Which means hardening your soul against everything else, including all ties of love and compassion.

Including your own family.

Her father certainly doesn't have any difficulty with that -- Arthur SanGreal is said to terrify the devil himself, and his ruthlessness is equally legendary. Billi would never believe the gossip about her father being responsible for her mother's death -- she knows that ghuls were the culprits -- but he reveals precious little affection for his own daughter. Sometimes Billi thinks he only values her as a potential Knight, another soldier for the cause. And it makes her furious. And lonely. It doesn't help that Kay, her only friend among the Knights, has been sent off to Jerusalem to train his psychic abilities -- and hasn't sent her a word since.

So when Mike shows up, a charming, intriguing stranger who seems to understand about overbearing fathers, Billi is tempted to give up this life altogether. After all, who wants a life of constant fear and danger? Doesn't she have a right to choose her own path?

Billi is great, full of fury and angst and yet too responsible and aware of the stakes to slip into whiny bratdom. The action scenes are nicely paced, the mythology is well-executed, and there are some very atmospheric horror bits. The only problem? The bad guys. See, devils and demons, that's fine. But when your Big Bad includes the Angel of Death and Satan Himself, well -- I mean, how do you fight Death?

I was fine and dandy with everything till then -- but the idea of actually vanquishing God's Appointed Judge Upon Mankind seemed a) a bit overambitious and b) kind of blasphemous and ultimately pointless. If they win, does Death just stop? Is there a replacement angel waiting in the wings? Will it tick off God?

I won't spoil any more -- do they survive? Does the world end? Apocalypse looms --- so let's just call this an exciting supernatural/horror thrill ride with a sympathetic heroine and a couple of nice twists.

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