Touch of the Demon (Kara Gillian #5)
December 31, 2012
Blurb via Goodreads:
She’s used to summoning supernatural creatures from the demon realm to our world, but now the tables have been turned and she’s the one who’s been summoned. Kara is the prisoner of yet another demonic lord, but she quickly discovers that she’s far more than a mere hostage. Yet waiting for rescue has never been her style, and Kara has no intention of being a pawn in someone else’s game.
There’s intrigue to spare as she digs into the origin of the demonic lords and discovers the machinations of humans and demons alike. Kara is shocked to discover that she has her own history in the demon realm, and that the ties between her and the demonic lords Rhyzkahl and Szerain go back farther than she could have ever imagined. But treachery runs rampant among all the lords, and she’s going to have to stay sharp in order to keep from being used to further their own agendas. The lords have a secret that dates back to earth’s ancient history, and it could have devastating repercussions for both worlds.
Yet more than anything else, Kara’s abilities as a homicide detective will be put to the test—because this time the murder she has to solve is her own.
Books With Balls is a special reviewing segment here at Lurv where an author goes where no other author can, meaning this author’s style is unique. It’s a book with balls. Big meaty ones.
Number of Balls (scale of 1-5, 5 being best): 5
Why is this book ballsy?
Answer: I can’t reveal exactly why, it’d be a huge spoiler, but Rowland takes some huge risks with Kara in this installment. It’s ugly. It’s pretty horrifying. It’s absolutely riveting and took the book and series to whole different level. The author really made it work.
After my disappointment with book 4, I’d begun to wonder when Rowland was going to take the plot somewhere a little heavier duty. Considering that was the fourth in the series, after all, I’d expected it to be a little more bang for the series buck. That bang came in the form of book 5 and I’m delighted to say it was completely worth the wait after all. Touch of the Demon holds nothing back and takes Kara on a darker path than I doubt any of us expected (though I had my suspicions about certain sex-i-fied demons aheeeem).
Before we go any further, yep, there will be past book spoilers (like, immediately following this statement), but I’ll try my best not to give away anything about the current book. When last we saw Kara, she’d been summoned to the demon realm and had some kind of collar fastened about her neck. Oh the suckage that wrought on us agonized readers! And of course it picks up right where it left off and we learn that she’s become the property, more or less, of another demon lord named Mzatal, pulled from Earth by his boy wonder human summoner, Idris. For the first several chapters, Kara is terrified of what they want of her, and it doesn’t become clear for quite some time. All we know is what Kara does, which is next to nothing about whatever is going on (As has been the case for, ooooh FOUR books. Huff.). What’s clear though is that Kara wishes to escape and find her way back to the only demon she feels she can trust, the ever-sexy Rhyzkahl. Mzatal isn’t giving her a lot of confidence that he harbors the warm fuzzies for her and I admit I felt he probably didn’t either. The book begins at a tense, fast pace that doesn’t let up for almost the whole book, with a lot of well-done mystery that the reader will be rewarded for waiting patiently for.
Hmm, what to say, what to…or rather what not to say. I can say a crap ton of interesting things happen in this book, but that’s boring as hell. So, so boring compared to the goods in Touch of the Demon. Goods as in Finally, Something Happens. Not necessarily good things happen to Kara. For the most part, I would say this is not a happy installment for our favorite amateur demon summoner. First I kind of hated Mzatal because it seems he’s bound to hurt her, and if you’re like me, you’ve really come to care about the character of Kara Gillian. Despite her inept knowledge of demons and summoning. In spite of some foolish things she’s done. Given how awful things eventually go for her in the demon realm, you’d think this wouldn’t be such a great read for me, but we finally begin to see the light with many a point in the series arc. Characters we thought we knew by now were revealed, their true colors shining through so brightly a reader’s bound to need some shades. Kara finally begins to have a Real Clue what it means to be a summoner as well as some training. I mean, hallelujah! That woman has needed some true summoner training all her life. Her ineptness has always been one of my few peeves with the series. She also experiences these weird flashbacks and memories of another summoner that used to receive training from a few of the demonic lords, and there was a sentence that caught my eye and made me giggle:
And there I was alone in the bath chamber staring at a tub already full of steaming water and no clue what happened to Giovanni. Like a fucking cliffhanger. Gah! I tried to get the image back but no luck.
Could this possibly have been a salute to the keen disappointment many readers expressed in the last book’s crushing cliffhanger? Heee!
I’ve seen several reviews upset at how much of the book takes place in the demon realm, citing this installment as a switchover to high fantasy and no longer residing in the urban fantasy distinction. I disagree. Yes, it takes place for the most part in the demon realm, but the series has dropped clues for a while now that a visit to the demon realm could be possible. Plus, it’s an integral part of the book, whether we’d visited or not up to this point in the series. It’s where those bad ass demons live and are summoned from. It just makes sense that we’d eventually get an extended look at it.
And I liked the demon realm. A lot. Rowland does a fantastic job of segueing into the alien-like world the demons are from, as well as explaining to readers through Kara’s experiences what the place is like. Basically, there are a certain number of demon lords, all of whom hold their own kingdoms within the demon realm. They own lavish estates, for lack of better terms, adorned with expansive mansions, villas or fortresses. I kind of got a Medieval vibe at times, though that’s not absolutely correct. The different parts of the realm are connected by magical groves that act as some kind of transportation device – here I got a Mortal Combat visual, when they’d go down that warpy tunnel-y thing to travel to other places. The demon realm is recovering from a long ago disaster, and the destruction of some of these lavish homes and the surrounding countryside are evident in crumbling towers and craters the size of a meteor landing. It’s a beautiful, alien-esque world and Kara gets to experience it pretty much to its fullest. She also gets to experience demon cuisine, and let’s just say some of the descriptions are not a little gag-inducing.
We get to meet some interesting and integral new characters, some of which are already mentioned. Mzatal has far more to him than first expected, as does Rhyzkahl. Hopefully without giving too much away, I’ll say that I have never fully trusted Rhyzkahl, though I’ve always been for his and Kara’s sexy times. And speaking of sexy times – they’re back this time. Thank you, Rowland – they. are. BACK. And I mean back with a vengeance. Quick, grab a fan before opening the book. Is mucho nice.
But that aside, yes, lots of interesting characters, Idris, Mzatal’s summoner being one. I really came to like him, and it’s clear from the end of this book he’ll continue to be very important in the next. We meet several other demon lords, all of whom are pretty good at concealing their true motives.
A few nitpicks – Kara is a tad annoying at times when she starts going all super supreme confident. I want her to be confident and I want her to kick all the ass, I just got tired of her repeating that she and her compatriots were going to kick all the ass ( <— a real, actual line she proudly proclaims). For one, it’s cool once or twice, but several times in a few chapters and sometimes within pages of the last, it gets cheesetastic and lame. Especially cuz, they’re not always managing to kick all the ass. Thy make a valient effort and they definitely kick some of the ass, but I wouldn’t say all of it.
And one more – back to the sexy times. Kara is a free spirit and unashamed of her body’s needs. I get that and I respect it. I just don’t want her to sleep with every demon she wants to trust, is all. Other than that, I’m still all for hawt demon smutty sex. Two big human thumbs up plus some razor-tipped demon ones!
Touch of the Demon will leave you absolutely shocked and breathless at certain points in the book, maybe punch you in the face even because there is some serious bad stuff going down. But that’s OK. The series has need something to jar it back into a rocking series arc pace and this one does so in spades. We get to find out lots of information. But of course we’re also still left with plenty of questions. Still, I’m happy. I feel back on track with this series. I’m excited to perv gawk at some more hawt demon sex. I can’t wait to see what demon lord shitnannery goes down next. I can’t wait to see Kara kick some more of that ass – so long as she doesn’t feel the need to keep saying it over and over. I am excited to see her grow in her powers, something she’s always deserved. Till next year! *SOB*