The Devil’s Kiss

The Devil's Kiss

Author: Sarwat Chadda

Publication: 2009, Disney/Hyperion

Pages: 327

Overall Rating:  bth_45_zps06f87659[1]                      

Rating for Action: bth_3-star-rating_zps73bdba73[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_3-star-rating_zps73bdba73[1]

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary:  Billi Sangrael is a member of the KnightsTemplar.  In ancient times their order was charged with fighting in the Crusades and defending Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land.  Now they fight demons and the unholy, protecting the rest of the world from vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and far more menacing ethereal enemies.  Over the centuries the order has shrunk.  There are only nine members left, and Billi is the first girl to ever join their ranks.  But her father, Arthur Sangrael, would have it no other way.  He is a hard and pitiless man who’s first and only love is the Knights Templar and he has raised Billi to be a warrior.  But Billi doesn’t want this life.  She just wants to be normal, to go to school and have friends.  She hates Arthur for what he’s done to her, and in a moment of rebellion she befriends the dark and mysterious Michael.  Unfortunately for Billi – and the rest of the world – Michael is not what he seems.  And when she discovers his true identify, and the reason he chose to befriend her, Billi will be forced to learn what it truly means to be a Knight Templar.

Age of Main Character: 16

What I Liked the Most: Even though this book is written in the 3rd person, Chadda has done and incredible job of dropping us inside Billi’s head and making her come alive.  It was easy to get swept up in Billi’s character, in her desire for a normal life and her desperation as she prepares to go to war with Michael and a host of other powerful ethereal beings.

Chadda also weaves in bits and pieces of the actual history of the Knights Templar, mixing it together with magic, mysticism, and “the bloody mantle of the Bataille Ténébreuse” – their war against the unholy – in a way that makes it feel like this really could be a modern day extension of the order.

I thought it was a nice touch to make Billi a Muslim – on her mother’s side at least.  Given the Templar’s history of battling Muslims in the Crusades, it was cool to make one of the few remaining Templars in the world a Muslim.

What I Liked the Least: For all the time spent talking about how much of her life Billi has given over to training and all the discussion of the various bruises she has to keep hidden, there are very few instances in the book where Billi has to do any actual fighting, and her final battle against Michael is won less through combat than through magic.  That’s not to say there aren’t some good action sequences in the book.  I just thought it was odd that Chadda paid so much attention to showing us how Billi’s training while giving her so few opportunities to actually demonstrate her skills.

How Good was the Action?  Let’s put it this way, for a novel featuring a female heroine with a healthy dose of romantic longing the action is actually pretty good.  Normally, the novels that fall into this category have only a couple of action scenes with most of the narrative focused on relationships and emotions.  In this case, for all the fact that Billi doesn’t do a lot of actual fighting, there’s still a pretty decent balance between her emotional longings and her battle against Michael and the unholy.

The action scenes are brimming with tension and Billi’s emotional reactions to the fighting taking place around her are spot on, making it very easy to get caught up in the action.  The only downside is that Chadda doesn’t provide a lot of blow-by-blow details.  Most of the fight descriptions tend to be like this, “She backed away, deflecting attacks that came on like an avalanche.  Michael’s blows smashed against the Silver Sword, and her arms ached from each assault.”

How Engaging was the Story? As I said, Chadda really gets you inside Billi’s head, into her hopes, frustrations and fears.  It was easy to get caught up in her emotional battles with the requirements of being a Templar and her struggle to live up to her father’s unflinching demands.  And the whole storyline with Michael was great fun as the last ragtag remnants of the Templars go to war against the Angel of Death and his army of vampires.

Overall Assessment: The Devil’s Kiss is a beautifully written book about a ragtag group of modern day knights caught up in a struggle with the forces of evil.  It’s a perfect choice for anyone interested in a dark and sometimes bloody tale with a touch of romance and dose of tense, well written action.

Profanity: Some

Sex: None

Violence: Yes.  Most of it’s not too direct, but there are scenes where Billi has to kill a ghost inhabiting the body of a young boy, where someone is stabbed through the chest with a sword and other similar acts of violence.  Most contain little to no blood, though there are a few fairly gruesome descriptions of the unholy.

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