Sunday, January 2, 2011

Review: The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver

Rebellious teen Demon Trapper Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself-and that's exactly what Lucifer is counting on.

It’s the year 2018, and with human society seriously disrupted by the economic upheavals of the previous decade, Lucifer has increased the number of demons in all major cities. Atlanta is no exception. Fortunately, humans are protected by Demon Trappers, who work to keep homes and streets safe from the things that go bump in the night.
Seventeen-year-old Riley, only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing attraction to fellow Trapper apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving citizens from Grade One Hellspawn. Business as usual, really, for a demon-trapping teen. When a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood, she realizes that she’s caught in the middle of a battle between Heaven and Hell. (from

First off, I would like to pose a question. Why is it that UF/PNR/YA writers like to pick on Atlanta? I have never been there so I have no personal feelings toward it one way or another but it seems that lately, when a book is set there, the city is one step away from being demolished! In The Demon Trapper's Daughter, Atlanta is bankrupt. There is a huge gulf between the classes and folks just barely scrape together a living. Demons are everywhere and they wreak havoc as much as possible. In the beginning of TDTD, Riley is sent to a university law library to capture a "Biblio-Fiend," a tiny demon who lives to ruin books. It's favorite method of destruction: peeing. These little buggers like to sneak into libraries (and if there's rare books there all the better) and pee everywhere, shredding pages as they go. Their kryptonite: boring literature. Riley read it part of the first page of Moby Dick and it was down for the count. (I can relate.) Into it's little sippy cup prison it went. Only...not.

And with that opening snafu, The Demon Trapper's Daughter kept me up until 2:30 am last night. I just couldn't put it down. I laughed and I cried and I rolled my eyes many times. I marveled at this clever world that Jana Oliver has created with it's different classes of demons, some ridiculous but most very dangerous. My favorite, besides the ones that pee, is the "Geo-Fiend," a class Five demon that you can't fight unless you're able to get them to touch the ground. They float, you see, and use earth magics to use the elements as their weapons. Plus, they're just BIG. Nasty, but cool.

Riley is a typical teenager with abandonment issues. She's clingy with her dad because her mom died of cancer. Riley only exists in extremes with her feelings; she used to have a crush on her dad's trapping partner, Beck, but now she hates him. She is almost to the point of obsession of making her dad proud of her as a trapper. She is in constant fear of disappointing him. It doesn't occur to her that her father already loves her and is proud of her but wishes that she did something else with her life, something way less dangerous. Riley is loyal and intelligent but just a bit clueless about the men in her life. I liked her but will like her even more after she can get over herself just a bitty bit.

As for the book as a whole, it is a well-written, evenly paced story with plenty of action. I was particularly amused by the necromancer parade that visited the cemetery while Riley stood vigil. There's not much romance here either unless you count a few kisses between Riley and the do-gooder Simon. A nice guy for certain but not the one who will last until the end, I think. Neither will the mysterious boy; that's where Beck will come in (eventually). I appreciated the lack of girly swooning here; it's obvious that while boys are an important part of a teenage girl's life, for Riley, they're not the top priority at the moment.

There is a subplot in TDTD that is touched on a few times but is barely explained until you are smacked over the head with part of it at the end. I'm hoping that the next book in this series has more to tell on the subject because my interest is piqued. The Demon Trapper's Daughter is the first book in a new series that I definitely want more of. It will be available on February 1, 2011.

On second thought,  you know what? Sorry, Atlanta. Any writer who wants to pick on you is fine with me.

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