Author: Devri Walls
Publisher: Brown Books
Publication Date: April 2018
Comment: I received a free ecopy in exchange for an honest review.
Blog Tour dates: March 1st-15th @The_WriteReads
Six years ago, Grey Malteer was attacked by creatures he thought couldn’t possibly exist. They repeated a word, calling him a name he’d never heard before…Venator. Since then, his life has been a hellhole of secrecy—hiding old pain alongside strange new abilities.
Rune Jenkins has an itch, as she calls it, but it’s more than that. It’s an anger that builds up like the inside of a boiler whenever she’s around anything remotely supernatural. The pressure is growing steadily worse and she can’t understand why. All she knows is—her control is slipping.
By order of an unknown council, Grey and Rune are pulled through a portal in the St. Louis arch, landing them in an alternate dimension where creatures of myth and legend exist. A realm that calls them, Venators.
Made up of centuries-old fae, vampires, werewolves, elves and succubi the council’s corrupt nature becomes obvious as they seek to wield the newly returned Venators as weapons. Wedged in an impossible position, Grey and Rune must decide their fate—do they go against the council’s wishes and help the innocents of this unforgiving land, or face the possibility of execution by the council.
Rune and Ryker are brother and sister with a similar innate distaste for the supernatural. Their insides itch when faced with anything paranormal and anger builds. Rune thinks she’s got it under control but her brother is letting it consume him to the point where College is one long alcohol-fuelled party. Sick of dragging her drunk brother back to his dorm, Rune has just about had it.
After dumping Ryker one night she bumps into the weird loner Grey and two of them are attacked by Goblins and saved by a man in a trenchcoat eerily like the one Grey has taken to wearing over the past few years.
Dragged into a parallel realm where every creature of Rune’s nightmares are real, she discovers that she and Grey are Venators; a bloodline of supernatural hunters. They are dragged into a fight between a powerful evil sorceress, who may have kidnapped her brother, and the council who have plans and schemes for their latest pets.
It will take Rune and Grey every amount of cunning that they possess to keep on their toes and stay alive long enough to decide who are the good guys and who they can truly trust.
Due to the death of my Grandmother and subsequent flurry to clear her flat of her personal belongings before the City council charged us rent(Yeah that’s a thing. Apparently.), I completely forgot that I had agreed to do this Blog Tour for The_WriteReads until the reviews started filling up my feed. Thankfully @The_WriteReads was nice enough to push my date back so I could deal with the drama, so thank you for that.
Firstly, I’m going to start with my favourite bits. Grey’s Longbottoming was fun to read, despite the reverse sexism of watching him undress. And I thought the hints as to a character’s possible previous sexual assault were delicately handled, especially when paired with the ‘seduction’ that was ongoing.
I love the world-building here. The idea of two dimensions existing side by side is an interesting one. Especially with the shared history between the two and the eventual destruction of the portals due to war. I liked the idea of the Venators and why they fell out of favour and I found the magic system to be interesting and well-constructed.
I admit that I felt that some of the info-dumps were a little large and the pacing was off at times but the descriptions were so brilliant that I generally ignored those. In fact, the descriptions of the goblins reminded me of those ugly pig guards for Star Wars mixed with the goblins from Legend and even thinking about then gave me the heebie-jeebies.
I found myself re-reading passages just because I enjoyed the description and I could really visualise it and thought the writing so well done that it played like a movie in my head.
I can see this being a fantastic Netflix fantasy series.
Now onto what didn’t work so well. First up, the names. Rune. Ryker. Grey. Really? I understand that you want names that stand out and can fit into a fantasy novel but these kids are from the ‘real world’. Maybe Jane and John are out but I felt these names were a little too forced to be realistic.
Then there was Rune. Sigh. She started out so well as a sister who had come to the end of her tether with her brother. Girl, I’ve been there. Siblings can suck. Then she gets dragged into Eon and her personality seems to morph into an angry, argumentative damsel in distress. Coupled with the other female characters being either the evil villainess, the succubus or the sexy Vampire Verida I honestly thought that this book was written by a man until I went to write the review and realised it was a woman. It seemed to cover all of the tropes including that none of these women like each other. In fact, the only time Verida and Rune seem to have any shared moments is when they are ogling Grey. Bechdel test failed.
Then the appearance of Beltran, who was by far my favourite character, who seems to fall in instalove with Rune. No idea why as she spent most of the time they were together bitching and complaining. I’m guessing there will be a love triangle with her, Grey and Beltran.
I also found the council members to be a tad clichéd but as we didn’t see much of them, I am hoping that they really come out in the next book.
Although I enjoyed the fantastic description and the scene-setting, at times, the plot seemed to drag. I really couldn’t stop rolling my eyes at Rune’s demotion from badass to side-kick.
I hope that in the next book she lives up to her potential and isn’t just reactionary.
As for a fantasy novel, I would recommend it just for the plot and writing alone. It was enjoyable and fun and I would give it a solid 3 stars.