I am a huge sucker for romances that have creative world-building surrounding them particularly those set in stories with blended genres. This one is a Dystopian Paranormal Western. Yummy!
The Prologue is left vague and mysterious about a baby being born that should have never been conceived, dying mother’s secret legacy through this child and the adoption of the child by a good, hopeful woman.
Life is hard and all about survival for the humans who live in the desert town of Freetown practically on the ruins of what had once been a thriving city and its outlying areas that have been devastated since the goddesses left leaving the demons full rein. Only the tough survive and it is a man’s world. Hunter has a reputation and is known as the Demon Slayer. He doesn’t trust the Priestess who runs Freetown when she hires him to go after a girl thief living on the goddess’ mountain saying she is demon spawn, but he agrees because he hates the thought of anything tainted by demon for what they did to his sister and many others. When Hunter encounters Aerie, he realizes that his job to bring her in and turn her over to the Priestess who will give her to the demons is not as easy anymore. He both hates what she is, but also sees that she truly is pure and innocent undeserving of the fate he has planned for her. Swirling around Hunter and Aerie is intrigue created by Mamna the conniving priestess and the demon lord who suspects Aerie is his daughter and the daughter of the goddess female who betrayed him.
The world building plays a huge part in this plot with a very interesting take on a world that has slid into a post-technology western frontier feel to it that included the concept that frightening demons roam free and there isn’t much use for the softer feelings and emotions. Though the current situation is described well; I wasn’t sure how everything got the way it did. I had the notion reading the story that this part of the world was sealed off from the rest to keep the demons contained so it might not be a global post-apocalyptic thing. It seemed that something cataclysmic occurred, beyond the demons, that caused the sands to cover over the cities and breed strange creatures like a huge lizard-like animal that can be ridden or things that can be used to pull carts and wagons that aren’t oxen.
Being curious and a bit confused about the setting didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the plot itself that is told from both Aerie and Hunter’s perspective along with a little from Blade. I loved the slow to grow relationship between Aerie and Hunter, the intrigue going on with Mamna (now she was a real piece of work that I loved to hate), the vengeful need of the demon lord (felt sorry for him in ways) and even the scenes with Hunter’s friend, Blade whom I’m glad to see gets his own story in the next installment.
I did feel that some of the explanation and resolution of Aerie’s parents’ issues and the detail about goddess and demons in the last half of the story though interesting did bog down the pace of the story a bit especially when that’s when stuff got really exciting. I was also left a bit confused by the resolution to Aerie’s big decision which she must make that occurred during the grand finale, but that is smoothed over by my happiness for how things ended for Aerie and Hunter along with the mysterious, but adorable Scratch. I hope they all get some scene-time in the next book.
Those who enjoy a mash-up of Dystopian Paranormal Romance in a frontier-like setting should give this one a try.
Thank you to Netgalley for the copy I received for review purposes.
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