REVIEW: Sins of the Demon

Diana Rowland
Sins of the Demon (Kara Gillian #4)
ISBN-10: 0756407052
ISBN-13: 978-0756407056
Urban fantasy
January 3, 2012

Blurb via Goodreads:

The homicide beat in Louisiana isn’t just terrifying, it’s demonic. Detective Kara Gilligan of the supernatural task force has the ability to summon demons to her aid, but she herself is pledged to serve a demonic lord. And now, people who’ve hurt Kara in the past are dropping dead for no apparent reason. To clear her name and save both the demon and human worlds, she’s in a race against the clock and in a battle for her life that just may take her to hell and back.

Spoilers, this review has them. Lots of them. I needed to talk about them. That being said…

Up front I have to confess this is my least favorite book of one of my most favorite series to date. I actually finished it a few weeks ago, but I’ve kind of been sitting on my dissatisfaction in hopes of putting it all into perspective. Elements of what’s made me come to love this series are still here somewhat. I still love Kara as a heroine. She’s gutsy and unafraid to face a conflict head on and I love her wit and snark. I like the author’s world and mythology she’s building with the alternate demon realm – a lot. I think it’s just that, for me, I had hoped for a lot more revelations in this installment. We’re four books in now, but Kara is still as inexperienced as ever in her knowledge of the demon world. While I know this is largely beyond her control, I think that’s the heart of the issue – so much being beyond her control. What is that word I see so much on other book blogs lately in relation to female characters? Agency? I’m not saying Kira just accepts the unfortunate things that happen to her, far from it, I just wish she was turning things around more by this point in the series and actually causing things to happen herself. I feel like she’s always one step behind when she ought to be two steps ahead for a change.

Maybe this time is coming for her in the series, but I don’t have confidence it will happen soon due to this one’s cliffhanger ending. Getting to that ending this time felt very much like a filler book. I may be mistaken, but I want to say I saw the author (probably on Twitter) saying that this….scratch that. It was in the Acknowledgements page, the author thanks another author for helping her “get through the mid-series hump”. God I hate to say this, so, so very much, but this very much felt like a book trying to get over that hump and it just couldn’t quite do it. It was like Kara was in this sinking pit of quicksand and she barely gets out at the last second only to be, well, bleepity bleep da bleep bleep bleep. (I know I said there would be spoilers, but come on, I’m not going to outright give away the cliffhanger ending.) There went my triumphant you go, girl. It’s no fun when she just barely gets out of one fire, stomps it out and then immediately is another but we’ve got a year’s wait to see what happens. It made the mid-series hump book feel that much more like a mid-series hump.

The other thing that frustrated me the most was, and I’m not embarrassed to say it at all, is the lack of Rhyzkahl and *AHEM* his sexiness. As in him and Kara. Doin’ the hump-de-hump (I mean, speaking of humps, let’s be real, that’s the kind of humps this book needed to get through the other hump). Before I bitch too loudly about the lack of uber hawt demon sex, I do want to assure folks that I feel he’s a very important character, one who is well-written and developed outside of the sexual arena despite the cloud of mystery surrounding him. One who’s barely in this installment. We now resume with the regularly scheduled bitching about the lack of his nekkid self.

The one scene he’s in, Kira totally ruins MY fun my actually telling him she doesn’t want to fuck (34% into the book on Kindle *SOB*) and she pretty much admits to herself later that she was having a snit. Thanks, Kara! Thanks a damn lot. I was looking forward to this book for many reasons, only part of which was the hawt perks you get with a demon lord, but your snit trumps my good times this go around. Good times I paid for. I paid for book four expecting you to have sex! I’m sorry, I know what that seems like you’ve become to me, but it’s not my fault you tripped over a demon lord (and his groin) in book one and started all this hawtness. Look, it’s time we readers just admit we harbor expectations sometimes. When you bring us such goodness we can’t help it.

Know what I did love though? Kara’s demon roommate and protector-ess, Eilahn (hey, just realized it’s been a while since I’ve noticed the silent JR Ward h) and her relationship with Kara. Score for the book because too often urban fantasy female protagonists don’t have a close relationship with another female, let alone close relationships of any kind. And even though Eilahn’s orders come from the mysterious Rhyzkahl and all, and we know next to nothing from her because she is bound against revealing things, she is an awesome character. She is totally there for Kara and I get a clear sense that she wants to be, not merely because she’s been ordered to. And she gets “killed” off and therefore sent back to the demon realm. WTF, book! Do you want me to throw you? Why do you leave me nothing? At that point I groaned and might have writhed in something like agony. The good thing is a demon isn’t really dead, just sent back to their realm. I hope this means Eilahn will be back in a later installment. Or… trying to help from the other side. Oh look, another expectation (or two or fifty), barging its way in. Darn you, expectations, you get me into trouble.

There was also this little demon that Kara calls at one point to hopefully aid her in testing out a suspect and the demon looks like a child. How creepy cool fun is that shit? Votevha might look like a sweet little kid, but…it’s (?) short appearance is also one of the more fun parts of the book. Again, Rowland just has her demons down! A really solid addition to the worldbuilding that makes this series so enjoyable. He acts like a kid, pointing at the town’s Christmas decor and laughing like a kid, yet the next instant he offers to off a woman for free who was rude to Kara. Ha!

Ryan continues to be a plus in this series, although he’s also in the same needs-more-info boat that didn’t get over the mid-series hump. There’s an interesting development romantically between him and Kara, but we don’t get that till almost the very end, and, well, that end was rather abrupt. I do feel like the progression of their relationship this time was at least more natural than the one between her and her demon lord. They’re like polar opposites compared to her deal with Rhyzkahl, more sweet bumbling teenagers than rawr-tageous sex fiends. So do be aware there’s some love triangle things a-doin’, but I find it’s a rare one in that I don’t mind it. Usually they tend to be frustrating, but as much as not knowing much of anything about either man grates on me at this point in the series, it’s also partly what’s keeping me interested. I just hope some more solid things are revealed soon or I will really will begin to feel strung along.

I still think this is a fun series as a whole, this installment just happened to be more of a downer for me than anything else. That being said, I’ve loved the books so much till now that I still have hopes for the next one. And I can still appreciate parts of Sins of the Demon, I just prefer to keep on with loving the entire thing like the spoiled reader I am (I hate feeling down in any way about this series). The thing is, too, I think I liked this book more when I first finished it, but now that I’ve let it sit for a while, the rant, it came out I suppose. Still, come on book 5, counting on you, babe!

Rating: Two and a Half Scoops

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  1. I’m reading this next and will try to keep an open mind even without the hot demon smut.

    Waaa, but I so wanted hot demon smut.*pout*

  2. Being decidedly pro-Ryan, I was happy for the lack of demon-smut. I was more upset about the lack of Ryan scenes! I see what you mean about mid-series slump. I was really hoping for more info, but I’m also happy with some of the juicy non-Rhyzkahl demon lord info we got. Also Kara is still one of the best UF heroines out there, and I appreciate that she seems to grow in each book, especially with her confidence around what she can and can’t handle with respect to demon summoning.

    On the whole, I thought the book was great on it’s own merit. The story was fast paced, the plot was tight, characters were consistent, etc. But I agree a few more revelations would have been a great help from a series standpoint.

    Also, I’m choosing to believe Eilahn will be back for book 5. If anyone, including Ms. Rowland tries to say otherwise, I will plug my ears and refuse to listen.

    • I may have waited too long to do my review because I’m struggling to remember what demon lord info was revealed. I hate my swiss cheese memory!

      I totally agree that Kara is one of the best UF heroines to date, despite my feelings on this particular book. I tend not to react this strongly and with such disappointment unless it’s a series and characters I’ve truly come to love. With respect to her summoning skills, that too is another area I wish we had seen a bit more progression in. I think you’re right in that her confidence is growing, but she is still lacking so much information, and confidence only gets a character so far before they need experience to step in and she’s lacking int hat a lot with the incredibly large elephants looming everwhere. Everywhere she turned in this installment was a brick wall and when the hero or heroine is so kept in the dark they begin to feel like just a pawn, which isn’t how I’d hope Kara to be. I know something could be happening that will enable her to break free from this entrapment somehow, it seems a catalyst is always necessary in UF, but the pawn-like buildup has been building up for a while now. Which, again, is why this series felt like such a mid-series-hump to me. It was kind of like being in limbo for me as a reader, so I don’t feel the book stands on its own at all. The pacing for me was incredibly slow with all the obstacles constantly in her way. It felt like she was just running in circles. Not the kind of progression I’d hope to see based on past books, all of which have had pretty good progression of the series arc.

  3. I’m with you on missing the Rhyzkhal smex in this one! She gets to see him once in a blue moon and she passes up the smex because she’s having a snit? Excuse me??!!! Plus I am NOT in the Ryan camp and their relationship while it works as friends/colleagues for me does NOT work on the romantic level. That relationship feels so forced and unnatural to me, plus with the further revelations about his secret past mis-deeds… uh-ohs. I finished this and while I appreciate a good cliffhanger I really prefer them in series where the next book is already published! ;) My favorite scene in the book has to be when a certain popcorn loving 12th level demon helps her out (Kerschak? I can’t ever remember their names — sorry) that was awesome!

    • You know, I kind of agree that Ryan and Kara’s romantic elements feel forced. I can see that after this installment. I wonder if it’s because they were so awkward around each other, her knowing some shocking details about him that he doesn’t, etc.

      This cliffhanger would be easier to deal with if the next one was coming out in, say, a month. And I just can’t get enough of the demons in this book, or how much they all like Kara lol! Well, the “good” ones anyway. :D

  4. I have given up on this series because I can’t access them as ebooks. The first 2 were available on Kobo but the others have never arrived.

    • That really sucks that you can’t access them. Has Kobo helped in the matter? I don’t use their ebooks so don’t know much about them, but it seems I’ve seen others that have been dissatisfied with Kobo’s service.

  5. Its about the publishers making books available so it is a geo restrictions issue. If I want an agency publisher book then for an epub version I really only have one source and that is Kobo

  6. I agree with you that there was a severe lack of Rhyzkal but I have to say the bits we got were pretty much revealing. My head is still spinning regarding what was so precious to him that Szerain destroyed. I strongly believe it is about a woman/lovemate. I loved Elaihn and I hope she’ll be back soon. Her presence also speaks in favour of the demon lord. Clearly he seems to be a good leader bringing about such nice and helpful demons.

    What annoyed me about Kara was the hypocrisy when she thinks about Ryan and Rhyzkal. Now that she knows what/who Ryan is, she says at some point that this fact makes him even hotter in her eyes… while with Rhyzkal she continually reminds us how dangerous and deadly he can be… now, dearest one, I guess Ryan untamed/undisguised won’t be any different. I understand that they have to get it on at some point – if it’s just for their peace of mind…LOL… but how can she say she loves him when she hardly knows who he truely is?

    I’m clearly on the Rhyzkal ship, although I also like Ryan but don’t get the love between him and Kara. Anyway I’m sure one of these two love interests will have his downfall when Kara’s past is revealed and I have the strong feeling that this is connected to Szerain’s punishment.

    • People keep saying that so much *was* revealed in this installment, and I guess I need to reread the book because I’m not seeing it. We’ve been getting hints of all the things you mentioned in the last few books so I guess I wasn’t wowed by anything much this time. I agree with you that it’s implausible that Kara would have such strong feelings for a guy – who is a demon – when she barely knows the real him (I tend to think she just swings really hard for demons lol). But Rhyzkal can be put in the same boat as well. He hasn’t been very forthcoming and just because he protects her doesn’t necessarily mean he cares for her as humans would like to be cared for. You can’t assign human motives and emotions to demon characters. They’re not at all human. I think any demon Kara meets likely has an ulterior motive and is in large part out to serve themselves (or their masters’ motives). Kara is obviously useful, but nothing is certain beyond that. Speaking of not being certain, most of what we’ve gotten has been plenty of things to theorize on. I had hoped for some more concrete info by now.

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