Crimson Soul, by Tim Cody

Publisher: Self-Published

Format: Kindle Edition, 2006

I don’t know what to say about this one. I really wanted to like it. I mean, come on, is any book more up my alley? Granted there was zero romance but it was like a combination of that Buffy episode where she wakes up in the mental institution and has to convince everyone that she is the slayer and not some crazy wacko combined with the Supernatural season 3 final episode (I kept hearing Ellen [no relation] yell “it’s a damn door to Hell!”). I just couldn’t completely get there, no matter how hard I tried.

Also: about the cover. I saw two – one that I liked with the Japanese-style gate, and one with a girl who looks like Abby from NCIS. I have no idea why the latter was there as I got zero Abby vibes from Crimson.

Plot: Crimson is a resident at a mental health facility who is convinced she isn’t crazy, she’s the latest in a long line of “bell maidens” – the one person on Earth who is able to stop the opening of a gate to Hell (The Bell Gate). How will she do this? Well she has to find the gate and then kill herself in front of it the moment she turns 18 (any earlier or later and the world is toast). The Bell Maiden gets a sidekick – the Bell Servant – whose #1 job is to kill the Belle Maiden if Crimson is unable to go through with the self-sacrifice. Crimson quickly realizes that her roomie Melissa is her Bell Servant and they set off on an adventure to escape the institute, find the Gate, and stop the opening of a gateway to hell.

Review: You guys I was SOOO into this book at the beginning. Potentially crazy people, end of the world, gates to Hell…this is so in my wheel house. And then when Melissa and Crimson were trying to escape from the Institute something went wrong and Melissa died. WHAT! Crazy right? Except not so much. It turned out that Melissa and Crimson were “dreaming”  about potential disasters (or just able to come back from the dead as you later learn). Well that happens once and then there’s another scary situation and a death…and then the girls wake up. At this point I’m just flashing to “Groundhog’s Day” and realize that any time something goes wrong it doesn’t matter because Melissa and Crimson will “wake up”, realize what went wrong, take different actions and survive (for now). So basically the book took away all potential negative consequences of their actions…which also took away all suspense. By the time it came for Crimson to actually sacrifice herself I just was so desensitized to her death that I barely paid attention to it.

There were subplots about Melissa’s terrible parents which really got to me, Crimson’s abusive parents which for some reason I had zero interest in, a prophetic butterfly, and the legend of the Bell Maidens. But in the end this wouldn’t be an Ellen review without a rant and all I have to say is: I WAS TRICKED!!!! You guys, I don’t know if this is the first in a trilogy but there is definitely a sequel. WHAT!!!! Please see my opinion on surprise trilogies! On a side note I do have to admit I was actually a little disappointed that this wasn’t more like the Buffy episode – it would have been awesome if this was all in her head.

In the end I’m giving this a 6/10. Did I dislike it? No. Did I love it? No. I just wish that there hadn’t been all the do-overs, and I really liked Melissa.

Based on the following criteria:

How much did I like the heroine: 7. I’m giving Crimson high scores because I think she has a lot of initiative despite the terrible hand she’s been dealt. She teaches herself how to read, believes 100% in her destiny despite what others have to say, and is willing to fight as much as necessary to fulfill that destiny. I wasn’t completely emotionally involved in the character, but I think that was the whole “it’s all just a dream” scenario that kept occurring.

How much did I like the love interest: Well there isn’t one. But I thought her best friend Melissa was awesomesauce. At first she just wants a friend but then she realizes Crimson is for real and – despite her understandable fears – is willing to help Crimson. I think my favorite part of the whole book was when Melissa gets all worried that Kitten will end up a resident of “Hell’s new mansion” if they don’t leave Melissa’s house – their temporary safe haven – soon. So I’m giving this a 5. It wasn’t a love interest but it was a great friendship, which is sometimes more important.

How believable is the plot: Um, a gate to hell? Which has to be closed by an 18 year old girl who must kill herself in front of it in order to make it close? Two people in a mental facility being sane? An enchanted butterfly helping out the girls? 0.

How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 9. Generally not bad but there were a few odd phrases. “Crimson…juked around the orderly” – what the heck does that even mean??

How much did I want to keep reading: 4. I’m giving this a “higher” score just because I was SO into it at the beginning. But after the second “dream” instance it lost me.

Glasses of wine I drank while reading: 3. One for each of the “dreams” I think. I just started getting so mad. There need to be consequences!!! It just sucked all the drama out of the book.

Final Score: I’m going to give this a 6. There was just SO much potential, but then the “dreams” got in the way. But I really liked Melissa and the friendship she and Crimson had. Especially when Crimson was facing her crazy balls family.


****Disclaimer: I got this book for free from the author. I swear I didn’t bribe him in any way, or get paid for my review. And we might not be legit enough to need this disclaimer but after working at a law firm for many years it’s better safe than sorry!****

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  1. Pingback: Monday Funday! It’s time for our weekly Roundup! | I Love YA Fiction

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