IQ "What else can we do but fight?" [Arthur]
"Even when it's hopeless?" [Billi]
"Especially when it's hopeless." Arthur pg. 249
Bilquis SanGreal is fifteen and facing a life of violence and protecting the weak. Her father is Master of the Knights Templar and it's Billi turn to join them, she's the first girl to become a member. She is the youngest member and she often feels alone in a world of older men especially since her own father could care less about her. When Billi's childhood friend, Kay, returns from Jerusalem she thinks things will get better. But Kay has changed. He looks better than ever but he is even more committed to the Knights Templar. Billi is thinking of leaving the Knights, so she can't understand why Kay wants to stick with the Knights. Then Billi meets Michael, he's gorgeous and understands her better than anyone else. However, there's no room for boys in Bili's life, especially if they don't know about the Order. On top of all the confusing boy drama, one of the fallen angels is determined to bring all the lost souls back to God, no matter how deadly the cost.
I'm really tempted to write a long and gushy review for this book. There are a few flaws but this book almost gave me a heart attack and I loved it every minute of it. I was disappointed at the Michael storyline, I thought it ran predictable but it doesn't really matter because once the truth about Michael is revealed, the plot quickly becomes unpredictable. The real world seemed to take a backseat to all the monsters and the work of the Templars. Billi comes to school with bruises from all her fights and her teachers wonder about the bruises, but they never press the issue. Also her father was so cruel and I thought the explanation was too convenient (I happily accepted it though in order to move on to more mystery supernatural stuff). The pacing could be a bit off as well, sudden bursts of violence and terror, than a lull of calm intermixed with a dash of real life. I wanted it to flow a little smoother.
This book has one of the best beginnings. It sucks you right in because it starts with Billi being assigned to murder a child. That's all I'll say about that. My favorite part of the book was probably the violent paranormal aspect of it. The author isn't trying to make nice, "sparkly" vampires or friendly monsters. Oh no, his monsters are more true to their original self; completely and utterly terrifying. There are vampires (called ghuls), werewolves, fallen angels, etc. and all of them are downright nasty. The author doesn't tell us about the wicked battles occurring, he shows us and it's INTENSE. Another part of the book that is extremely well done is how religion is handled. Billi is half Pakistani and her mother was Muslim, but when her mother died, her white Christan father raised her. The Knights Templar are Christians but the book draws upon myths and other religions. It makes several mentions of events that occurred in the Bible and the author uses his imagination to fill in conversations mentioned in the Bible (for example what Moses and the angel talked about after the unleashing of the ten plagues). It's an interesting take and provides quite a lot of food for thought.
And the ending :0 I sort of called it but I wanted so desperately to be wrong. You can't fully predict the whole ending, only bits and pieces. My heart was in my mouth and I was on the edge of my seat towards the end. Finally, you have Billi. All the characters were great (tie for second favorite character goes to Elaine or Percival), but Billi is amazing. She is spirited, the weight of the world is on her shoulders and she acts her age. Sometimes she whines a bit and makes some stupid decisions and then has to clean up the aftermath. But she's a fighter, honest and stubborn. One of my new favorite heroines. Elaine is a straightforward, loving Jewish woman who works with the Templars. She has some amusing lines and cool powers. I'm eager to learn more about her interesting backstory. Percival (Percy) replaced Billi's father, as someone for Billi to look up to. He was in charge of teaching her how to use weapons, but he was one of the few Templars (there are only nine) who remembers that Billi is HUMAN, not just a killing machine. He looks after her (sidenote: he's from Senegal) and we love him for it.
Devil's Kiss is a mesmerizing tale with a valiant and realistic main character at its heart. The monsters are scary, the battle scenes intense, the mythology and religious aspect will make you think and the romantic tension between characters is believable. Each character jumps off the page, a force to be reckoned with, unwilling to remain a background character. This is one of those special books where each time you re-read it, you will find something new to think about. Upon finishing this book, I sent out several Tweets, some to Twitter in general raving about this book and a few to the author. I then immediately looked up when the sequel was coming out. Dear readers it's coming out in 2011!!! *faints* BUT it's already out in the UK! The sequel is the Dark Goddess and I suggest that you order both books together because I'm having a hard time waiting to read the sequel. My hope is that this review does not sound completely garbled and that I have persuaded you to at least look up a summary and other reviews of Devil's Kiss.
Disclosure: Received from the wonderful Book Fairy #3. And it's autographed. Thank you so very much!
PS I own the UK cover which is cool but I love the U.S. cover. Billi looks so fierce with the sword and I love the guy in the background (is it a knight? Kaye? Michael?). Which cover do you like better, the U.S. or UK?
*I will be out of town (on a service trip!) from July 24-August 1. I have no Internet access but I look forward to reading your comments and emails when I get back.