>> Monday, October 05, 2009
TITLE: Demon Forged
AUTHOR: Meljean Brook
COPYRIGHT: 2009 (comes out tomorrow, October 6th)
TYPE: Paranormal romance
SERIES: Book 8 in The Guardians series.
REASON FOR READING: I adore this series.
Four centuries ago, Irena and Alejandro would have succumbed to the need smoldering between them — if a demon and a monstrous bargain hadn’t shattered the possibility of love. Torn apart by shame, Irena avoided Alejandro for centuries — until a vampire’s call for help throws her into his arms again.NOTE: If you haven't read the previous books in the series, it's probably best if you don't read this review. I'll try to avoid spoilers for previous books, but this far into the series, I'm pretty sure some will slip in. And anyway, if you want to read this series, you really should be starting at the beginning. I mean, there's certainly enough information in each book to allow them to be read as standalones (it's useful for us who've been reading the other ones, too; this is a fabulously complex world, and my memory isn't perfect), but you'd get so much more out of them if you've read the previous entries. Go read my review of Demon Angel if you want to know what it's all about.
Alejandro can control fire, but he’s never been able to control — or quench — the flames between him and Irena. And he knows Irena, hardened by her hatred for demonkind, will never accept that he now works at a demon’s behest. But even as he fights for a second chance, a shocking betrayal and a deadly prophecy shake the foundations of the Guardian universe, and all Hell threatens to break loose…
Irena and Alejandro are among the oldest of the Guardians. Alejandro is old enough, having been one for four centuries, but next to Irena, he's a newbie. She was already an experienced Guardian when Alejandro became one, and he was actually assigned to her to be trained. There was as much heat and attraction as there was respect in that relationship, but before they could move from the very enjoyable and exciting foreplay to the action, a demon intervened and completely wrecked what was between them. Irena had to make a horrendous bargain to save Alejandro's life, and neither could get over the shame and guilt of the aftermath.
In the hundreds of years since, the two of them have done all they can to keep at a distance. But as we've seen in previous books, this is a pivotal time for the Guardians, what with the threat of the Nephilim rising and the small matter of a potentially disastrous prophecy to understand, not to mention increasing mistrust among the Guardians themselves, arising from the revelations about Michael's past. When Alejandro and Irena are required to work together, what had previously looked like an insurmountable chasm suddenly feels like it doesn't have to keep them apart.
Alejandro and Irena are two fantastic, very unique characters. Irena, especially, is amazing. I think she's a sort of character I'd never read before. She's fierce and wild, almost primitive in some ways, so much so that all the novices are a bit scared of her. From glimpses in earlier books, I thought I might find it hard to warm up to her, but I didn't. Brook is really good at getting you to completely understand her characters, and Irena was no exception. What was most brilliant about this careful characterisation was that I could completely get her and feel that what made her completely different to more modern characters (her "ancientness", for lack of another word) was still there.
Irena and Alejandro's romance must be one of my favourites in the whole series. What came between them was something that wasn't just awful, but designed to do as much damage as possible given the kind of persons they each were (exactly what you would expect from a demon, eh?). Getting over it is not just a matter of communicating and wanting to get over it; it takes true character growth and some hard decisions about what's most important, especially for Irena. It also takes a whole lot of trust and love and respect, and boy, do Irena and Alejandro have that! It made the romance incredibly satisfying.
To make things even more amazing in the relationship department, we finally, finally! get some clues about Michael and what's going to happen with him in this area. Big, gut-wrenching developments there, about which I'll say no more, other than you're going to want to read this. Like everyone, I've always been very intrigued by Michael, so it was really good to start to understand what he's like under the whole enigmatic Doyen role.
Ok, on to the plot. In Demon Forged the romance and the bigger storyline share pretty much equal billing. This is one series that really is going somewhere. It's not just a bunch of completely separate stories which happen to take place in the same universe, maybe with some recurring characters. Oh, no, while we do get plenty of closure in the main relationship developed in each book, there's something bigger that is going on, and it's something that progresses book by book.
I think, though, in previous books the plots have felt a bit more self-contained. I mean, they have always fit in with the larger picture and advanced it, but they still felt like single stories, with their own closure delivered in the book. In Demon Forged the link between the plot and the bigger story arc was clearer... in fact, there didn't seem to be much of a smaller plot at all. At one point, right before the denouement, I was actually feeling a bit anxious. The romance felt like we were almost there, and it wasn't clear where the plot was going. I was afraid the action was about to start to drag. And then... WOW!
I received an ARC quite a bit in advance, and was especially told by the author to be very careful not to let it out of my hands, because something huge happens. I hope Meljean doesn't get offended if I say I thought she was being a bit dramatic. Well, she wasn't. She really, really wasn't. That particular development was huge. In fact, even with the warning, I was surprised by just how huge it was. It was brilliant, too, and takes things in a direction I didn't expect at all. My god, that epilogue! I really and truly can't wait now to find out what's going to happen. And that, my friends, is all I'm going to say about that.
MY GRADE: An A. This keeps getting better and better.