Title: Demon Bound
Author: Meljean Brook
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Stand Alone/ Series: 4th full-length novel in the Guardians series. The books are written such that one could theoretically read them as stand alone novels, but I would highly recommend reading at least the full-length novels in succession to minimize confusion, and to get a better sense of the overall universe and continuity. (Thanks Thea)
Why Did I Read the Book: The Guardians series is my favorite Paranormal romance series and I am Meljean Brook’s fan.
Summary: Alice Grey is known as the Black Widow—a woman trapped in a web spun by the demon Teqon. Jake Hawkins is a novice Guardian whose gift of teleportation could be invaluable to Alice in determining her next move. But can they survive when fear and secrets threaten not just their lives and souls, but the fate of the universe?
Demon Bound is the 7th book in the Guardians series (4th full length novel) and much more than being a stale installment in the middle of a series it actually represents a corner stone and a breath of fresh air. It picks up threads started in the previous books and expands them in what can only be described as a complex, multi-faceted journey – in time and in history that tells and expands the Guardians’ tale; For the hero Jake, who goes from boy to man; And for the heroine Alice, who goes from being bound in every possible way to absolute freedom.
Thesaurus: bind – definition #1 -To place under legal obligation by contract or oath
Jake Hawkins is a Novice Guardian, who died in the Vietnam War and is training under the tutelage of Drifter (hero of Demon Night) to become a full –fledged Guardian. What usually takes 100 years to achieve needs to be cut short by the recent Ascencion in which the majority of Guardians basically quit their “jobs”. Jake sounds and acts like a young, restless man and when we saw him in Demon Night he fucked up his mission and that had serious consequences for Charlie, the heroine of that book. He has a recent found Gift of Teleportation, which he is still trying to control and at the moment it works only he feels fear –one of the things he fears the most is…..
the Guardian Alice Grey, the Librarian in Caelum known as the creepy Black Widow for her Gift which connects her deeply with spiders giving her heightened senses. Alice is bound by a Bargain with a demon called Teqon. A Bargain she stroke before becoming a Guardian, when she was still human: either she will give him Michael’s (the First Guardian and their leader) heart – or she will freeze in hell for eternity.
Her only way out of the Bargain is to find something Teqon wants more than Michael’s heart. Since Teqon works for Belial, she believes that if she can find out more about the Prophecy that says that Belial will one day rise to beat Lucifer, she will be able to get out of it. This ties up nicely Demon Bound to Demon Night by expanding that particular storyline. She believes she can beat the demon by investigating and exploring these Temples that mysteriously appear and disappear, Temples that have been built over the centuries and which have the history of the Guardian’s carved in stone. Her passion for archaeology connects her to Jake who also shares a passion for excavation and when he is able to see past her creepiness they get to work together with this common goal.
Their pursuit for answers leads them to temples all over the world and to Hell until eventually they find more than they were looking for, and the History they learn is much more than they bargained for, with surprising information about the origin of the Nephilim, about Michael, their leader, and possibly tragic consequences for the future of the series.
Thesaurus: bind – definition #2 – to unite with emotional ties or commitment.
It is hard to say what is more incredible about Demon Bound – the plot or the characters. I should probably say both as they prove to be cohesive, coherent which consequently translates as a kick-ass, good quality story.
At first it is the plot that gives the impulse that the characters need to get together – by coincidently putting them at the same place as the book opens. From that moment on, for a little while, the characters take over as we learn more about them and at first what leaps from the pages is the difference between these two:
creepy, Victorian Alice; Prim, proper, lonely Alice. She is bound by her bargain to the Demon and this bind is everything to her. It determines the way she lives – in hiding, in solitude, not bonding with hardly anyone, even though there is enough love in her for her friends which makes it all the more poignant. She doesn’t risk connection because she can’t bear to lose it. She is also bound to her service as a Guardian and in what she believes and is that belief that tells her she can’t and won’t ever fulfill a bargain that will send her to hell anyway. She is bound to spiders even though at first, her Gift has scared her and the why she is stuck with such a Gift is even creepier and sad. She is also bound by fear and by guilt and regret for accepting the bargain in the first place. And again, (can you sense a theme here?) she is also bound to her past – she is a Victorian woman in all , in the way she dresses, in the way she speaks, in the way she still allows what her horrible husband has done to her to consume her nonexistent sexual life in which “settling her nerves” is the most she will experience, until The Novice comes along.
Jake. Wonderful, funny, young Jake. I have fallen in love with him back in demon Night the minute he uttered words quoting Karate Kid. Jake thinks about sex all the time and has no finesse whatsoever and one of the ongoing jokes in the book is how he is always uttering words before thinking about them and in fact, the first time they have a real conversation, there are some words uttered by Jake to Alice, who responds in kind:
Jake decides to be trained by Alice as well as by Drifter once they discover their shared passion for the Temples they find. He tells Alice what he is going to say to Drifter to convince him to let him train with her as well….
“You’re pretty much the only female who doesn’t make me think about sex when I am near you. So I’ll point out that you’ll be good practice for when I am around real women”
ouch. But she replies:
“you may come to me, novice, if it teaches you how to behave around real women. But I suggest you return to Ethan’s training, where you might learn to behave like a real man”
and this is the onset of their relationship, where these two are far apart not only in age but physically and mentally. The Jake that we start with is utterly different from the Jake we end up with – a clear transformation from boy to man.
When he realises he is falling for her against all odds, mid way through the book, the scare is so huge he ends up teleporting them to Hell – the event that propels both the story, their relationship and initiates Jake’s transformation.
In the end he is the one of all heroes in Meljean Brook’s world so far to make the highest sacrifice, to make the toughest decision one that proves how much of a man he truly is. Jake in the end, is Guardian. He is a Man and with his help and his stubborn pursuit of Alice she goes from someone unable to make plans to someone who dared. His greatest gift to Alice and one that opens one of the greatest lines in the whole of the series?
The one that makes her go from being Certain to Uncertain – freeing her from the certainty of doom to the uncertainty of hoping.
Thesaurus: bind – definition #3 – To make certain or irrevocable
And then, of course there is the writing. What I love about Meljean Brook’s writing and which I mentioned before in my review of Demon Night – it how very graphic and very visual her descriptions are – for example there are small gestures that end up describing her characters and make them more REAL. Be it the way Alice walks, or how Jake every time he is thinking he walks around with his hands linked behind his head. I am not a very visual person and it is difficult for me to create images in my head. It is testimony to the writer’s skills that I can visualise almost in a cinematographic way everything that happens in her book. From the fighting, to the archaeological remains becoming alive in my mind to the weapons and the way I was able to see them with my mind’s eye – a good example is Alice’s Naginata. I never heard of this word before and as soon as Meljean spoke of it, I “saw” it and I proceed to google and voila, exactly what I imagined.
This review is already way, way long and I haven’t even mentioned the secondary characters, the new ones that are introduced (Irena! Alejandro!) and the old favroties we get to see again. Or how the sex doesn’t happen until late in the book when they already love each other and how it was not magically amazing from the get go and they had to work at it to make it good. I guess I should let things for you to find out by yourself.
I read Demon Bound for the first time a couple of months ago and I thought it was incredible and I knew it was one of the best books of the year. Before writing this review, I decided to re-read my favorite parts in order to refresh my memory and ended up reading the whole book again and by doing so, I realised how much I loved every.single. line.
Is Demon Bound perfect? No: there are some plot developments that were a bit contrived – like for example, the accident jump into hell that ends up being exactly what was needed to further the story or the long Architect scene (damn you, Thea) also set in hell whereupon a new character dumps historical information and everything is explained. Or how I still don’t understand exactly how Jake was such a young gun even though he was 60 years old: was it the effects of Enthrallment? Or the 30 years spent in orgies?
It is another evidence of Meljean Brook’s writing qualities that despite the above, the chapters in Hell were the best part of the story with the way Alice and Jake team up (seriously the whole sequence in hell is pure fun coupled with nerve-twisting action and unparallel emotional development for Jake ) and Jake ended up being my favorite of her heroes to date; which is to say that Demon Bound’s strengths are numerous and outnumber its weaknesses tenfold.
Golly gee Ana…could this mean?…. Yes, Demon Bound is the ninth book to make my top 10 reads of 2008.
Notable Quotes/ Parts:
There is one scene set in Hell which is absolutely brilliant and according to the author was inspired by a Tim O’Brian’s The Things They Carried. Alice is sick and sleeping. Jake has been walking around the barren scenario for more than 60 hours carrying her in his arms. It reminds him from when he was walking in Vietnam when he did a mental list of the things he had. His new list starts just like the list when he was walking through the jungles in Vietnam and it includes the memories if his grandma and grandpa, his then girlfriend, Barbara the mother of his daughter. It now expands to include the things he has done over the past 40 years as a Guardian – the things he learnt, the friends he has made. Also his fuck ups (including Charlie’s situation in Demon Night), the years he spent doing nothing; The weapons in his cache, the toothpick in his mount and his Gift of Teleportation that he couldn’t allow to go haywire anymore – it goes on and on until the gets to the most important:
He had a woman sleeping against him who was in danger of being trapped in a frozen screaming wasteland, and he had a deep ache that settled in his chest whenever he thought of it. And whether she knew it or not, he had the burden of her bargain on his shoulders now, too. He had the dread and the terror that came with it.
And he had every intention of freeing her, no matter what he had to do to accomplish it. (…)
He had Alice in his arms, but he didn’t have her – and she had over a hundred years’ practice keeping anyone from getting too close.
And that, he thought , was the item that topped a list made in Hell.
Verdict: I don’t think I need to say more – Demon Bound is on the top 5 reads of 2008 and Jake Hawkins is my top 1 hero of 2008. I absolutely adore this series.
Rating: 9 Damn Near Perfection – I am also bound by Rules and even though I would love to give this a 10, I need to take into consideration the very minor issues I listed above.
Additional Thoughts: NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY !!!
Leave a comment on this post until Thursday 3pm Pacific Time when our Smugglers Sorting Hat will pick 4 winners – first winner will win a copy of Demon Bound. The 3 following winners get to pick one book each from Meljean Brook’s awesome backlist.