The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver

Posted by Cobalt | Posted in , , | Posted on 5:35 PM

*Disclaimer: I received this as an ARC in the mail

Review: 3.5 / 5 stars

Riley Blackthorne has a pretty rough life. For one thing, she's training to become a licensed demon trapper, a profession that isn't known for pro-feminist traditions. For another, she's the daughter of Paul Blackthorne, a living legend in demon trapping circles. So there are some high stakes involved.

But Paul Blackthorne doesn't even want his daughter in the family business. Especially after his wife's death, he has an understandable objection to Riley dancing with demons. He hasn't managed to dissuade her yet, but Riley herself is getting discouraged -- there's only so much demon pee and public humiliation she can take, and botching her trappings is getting her nowhere towards fully licensed.

Still, Riley's convinced that she has all the skills, and she starts to wonder if something's standing in her way. Something besides Beck, her father's obnoxious apprentice/partner, a Southern hick who keeps needling Riley about her age, her inexperience, and oh, that little crush she used to have on him...

Turns out Riley's right. Demons are afoot, but they aren't just after her. After an attack rips her life apart, Riley has to figure out who to trust and what's really going on - and how to shake the annoying new guardian who's suddenly manifested in Beck. Oh, and there's another cute boy involved: Simon, a fellow apprentice who seems almost too golden to be true.

This book was written as a series starter, and it shows -- there's a lot of buildup and not much conclusion, with many loose ends to be resolved. This wouldn't be a problem, except that the worldbuilding was a little sparse, with not enough fully explained (why are the demons here? what are the protective properties of metal? who are these demonkillers from Rome?). There was a lot of Talking About How Things Are, but not enough Showing -- and the start of a series is the place for it.

The characters were engaging enough, but I'm going to snark at the dialogue -- we don't need to hear Beck's 'deep South' accent in every sentence, and Oliver's representation of a Scottish brogue made me cringe.

I'm reserving judgment a bit due to the obvious series-ness, but I really wanted more organic backstory and more balanced pacing in the first installment. This may really find its feet later on, but Riley hasn't trapped me yet.

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