Format: Uncorrected review ARC
Review by: Onnica
Genre: YA Paranormal
I shamelessly grovelled for a copy of this book – I just couldn’t wait to see what happened next for Niko, Ari and the bargain made with Death. I was sucked into this world from the get go and I just wanted to see whether Ari and Niko would be able to outwit death and finally be together. Let’s face it – Ari is due a break. *Spoiler* She’s lost her sister, her best friend has sacrificed himself for her and now she could potentially lose Niko – it’s been a rough few months for our heroine!
Plot: [contains spoilers from Book One] At the end of book one, Ari had entered into a deal with Death to make Niko human and no longer a Reaper. She accepted to be blinded for a year and have her memories of him wiped as the price for his freedom. However, when she wakes, not only can she see but she remembers Niko all too well. What the hell went wrong? Turns out that Death has got himself into a little situation. Someone in the Underworld has betrayed him and has stabbed him with a really huge sword that only a ‘Redeemer’ can pull out. Meanwhile, Niko lies in a coffin, his transformation not quite complete. Time’s running out for him and Ari whose soul is separated from her body. What is a girl to do, but strike up another bargain with Death? If she successfully passes through the Underworld, finds the Redeemer, convinces him or her to return to pull out the sword then both Ari and Niko will be free. Simple right? Not quite. Death seems to have a number of enemies who would usurp him – principally Balthazar, who’s bent on taking Death’s place and will stop at nothing to gain his rightful seat. Unable to take over Death’s dominion in its current state, he reluctantly agrees to team up with Ari to achieve their separate goals. He’s single-minded and isn’t going to let an adolescent derail his plans.
Review: This second book is completely different from the first one. It is ram-packed with action. Ari and Balthazar are on a quest and it felt like a full-on Labyrinth-type adventure story. I feel that I should warn you however: if you’re hoping for the next stage in Ari and Niko’s relationship, you’re in for a disappointment. He barely features – it’s like the ‘New Moon’ of the Reaper series. Disappointment aside, there is plenty of action to get your teeth into. Ari shows what she’s made of. She stands up to the ferocious Balthazar despite being scared of him. She gives as good as she gets in their verbal sparring and often comes out on top. Kate did mention at the back of the book that it took a long time to write the book and she lost the story for a while – I can understand this as SO MUCH happens in the story – which isn’t a criticism but it was a bit difficult to follow all of the machinations and plot strands. I’m looking forward even more to book three as I want to see how all of these strands will come together – and hopefully there’ll be lots more Nikolas too!
In the end I’m giving this a: 7/10
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: 9 Ari for me is a great character. She’s bright, perky without being annoying and has bucket-loads of courage. She’s not much of a whiner or a crier – she just gets on with the mission without waiting for someone to rescue her or think for her.
How much did I like the hero: 6 Balthazar cannot be described as a hero. He’s a total anti-hero who is supposed to have goodness deep down. That goodness is buried pretty darn deep – even his changing attitudes towards Ari didn’t make me warm to him all that much. I guess I’m firmly planted in Team Nikolas! Balthazar is ruthless, driven and prone to bad language. I’m sure plenty will like the bad-guy-but-good-really persona, but I wasn’t fully sold.
How believable is the plot: 7 Again it is fantasy – there are a whole host of demons, witches heavenly bodies and fluffy pink creatures (yes you read that last part right) to read about which is fun and as I said before reminded me of the film Labyrinth. Fortunately, David Bowie in spandex is nowhere in sight!
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc.: 8 Kate Evangelista’s writing style is very rich in detail so there’s absolutely no room for waffle and superfluous scenes. I’m grateful for this as she doesn’t frustrate the reader – she gets to the point and builds the suspense really well and maintains it.
How much did I want to keep reading: 9 The suspense kept me going – I needed to know what was on the next page and then the next. Would Ari make it back in time to save Death and Niko? Would she soften towards Balthazar? The questions were answered but then even more have opened up! Book three please come quickly…
Final Score: 7/10 for a funny, adventurous and exciting continuation in the Reaper series. The reader gets a lot of plot for their money and there is plenty of intrigue, but I’m hoping to get back to some romance in the final book.