I'm going to try something different today and review this four part series all in one go, in four mini reviews. That way, you can read up to where you want and I won't have four posts with hardly any views! Let's go:
Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper, Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father's footsteps. The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta’s local Trappers’ Guild needs all the help they can get—even from a girl. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils – Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life’s about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen.
But then a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, sudden tragedy strikes the Trappers’ Guild, spinning Riley down a more dangerous path than she ever could have imagined. As her whole world crashes down around her, who can Riley trust with her heart—and her life?
Riley Blackthorne, daughter of legendary Demon Trapper, is the first girl trapper. She is strong-willed, stubborn, tough skin but very insecure - all the makings of a great heroine. I loved the world she lived in, the characters she interacted with, and really admired how she handled herself after her dad died. So what shall we start with? The world building was just incredible. Set slightly in the future, the world is a hunting ground for demons and what I really loved was that this strange aspect of life was completely integrated into modern society! Demons were no secret, they were a common nuisance and danger and the trappers were, I think, treated rather unfairly for the work they do to protect their city.
Riley had great interactions with all sorts of characters. She had great banter with Beck, a sweet chemistry with Simon, but I think the synopsis should have left Ori a mystery. Her fellow trappers like Stewart were amazing characters, with a wealth of knowledge. Then there was Harper, who was a right douche to both Riley and Simon as trappers in training. As much as I understood that they had to start at the bottom, I quite despised Harper for acting so horrible. But Riley learnt a lot from him about being a good trapper and to not let the bad-mouthing ruin her attitude, which comes in handy in later adventures.
All in all, I was incredibly impressed with the beginning of this series. I loved the characters, the demonology history, the balance between modern society and old-fashioned magic, the relaxed writing style and the slips into colloquial Southern twang. If this is where you stop reading in this massive review, go get this book and find out why I loved falling into this world of demons and angels and spheres with Holy Water.
The second books picks up right where Forsaken left us, in the aftermath of the big fight that left the trappers weak. There was an epic battle that finished with hurtful accusations and lots of possible lies, most of which concern her recently-reanimated father. What I loved about this book was that Riley's world was now even bigger than trapping demons, now its the balance between Heaven and Hell and apparently Riley is stuck in the middle. Even as complicated and terrifying as that is, it made for great story-telling and I applaud Ms Oliver for keeping the balance between the action, the religion and the romance.
Speaking of romance, there was development on the boy front. After Riley saved his life by making a deal with Heaven, Simon is beyond confused and might even have the bad guy whispering in his ear. Whatever it is, while Riley is checking up on him, he throws Holy Water on her to make sure she doesn't melt. Like, what?! I get that he had been through a lot and might be losing his faith, but really? Holy Water over your now ex-girlfriend? Following on from douchebag boys, Ori is back. The freelance demon hunter has a secret and I will not ruin it for you, just in case! Even as sweet as he was, I knew there was something off with him and it turns out I was right! And finally Beck... well, Beck is just as complicated as ever, changing his moods so quickly it wasn't a surprise Riley lost her temper with him so often.
Riley is now learning from her mistakes, determined to make things better, not just for her but for those she cares about as well. She is definitely not taking any more shit from boys, whether it be Beck, Simon or Ori. Which I think is very impressive and admirable, especially as it is really difficult to give up on someone you cared about, even if that person is now a massive douche. And that won't make much sense unless you've read it and know what horrible thing Ori did to her. And still on the subject of boys, Riley has finally realised what I noticed at the start: Beck likes her. Silly girl, wasting all that time on idiots when you could be with that hotness!
Oh yeah, and Armageddon happens. Riley takes her stand between angels and demons and rather incredibly, survives to tell the tale! Obviously, as there's one more book in the series! And let me tell you, it was an incredible fight. Everyone was pulled in, even Ozy, the evil super-necromancer who reanimated her father without her permission, and Mort, the friendly summoner, and Ayden who is the best witch I think I've ever read, she is so amazing! All this magic and trapper knowledge makes for an epic battle which was exciting and terrifying. Not just because they were literally fighting Hell, but because Heaven turned up way too late to the party, especially since it was their blooming fight!
The last book in the series describes the aftermath of Armageddon. Which is a relatively rare thing, as we like our "happily ever after" but I loved having one more book to show everyone getting to grips with the aftermath of such a horrifying and challenging event. But the main focus of this book, at least the first half, is Beck's past. Riley and Beck are finally admitting that they have feelings for each other but Beck fears that his past will scare her away. And it turns out that Beck's secrets are terrifying in a very different way to the demons and fighting Hell but just as scary.
After the battle between Heaven and Hell, now the trappers have a civil unrest in Hell to worry about. The Prince of Darkness himself, Lucifer to those who dare speak his name, is apparently having trouble controlling his subjects and that fight is coming topside. Now Riley has to show the talents that Ori has been secretly teaching her: to fight Arch-fiends and the Fallen. Plus, you know, protecting those she loves and her city. The usual. Everyone has an agenda in this fight and it really wasn't fair that Riley was stuck in the middle, once again playing the pawn. Luckily, it doesn't last long and she plays her part and is then granted her life back. Just in time to enjoy her future with Beck!
I loved this series. It was full of drama and secrets, with incredible mythology and well-written twisting plot lines. It was surprising and romantic, annoying and frightening but I loved it so much. Riley is now one of my favourite heroines and I am so proud of her for learning from her mistakes and finally getting a good lot in life.