Riley Blackthorne has always wanted to follow in her famous father's footsteps. Unfortunately, the rest of the demon trappers don't take kindly to a girl amongst their testosterone-filled ranks -- but if hairy, sharp-toothed demons don't scary Riley, a bunch of old men don't stand a chance. Yet, life in near-future Atlanta is harsh in more ways than one. When the unthinkable happens, Riley is forced to pick up the pieces of her devastated life, protect her father's body from necromancers, bag and tag enough demons to survive, and save the world from the impending apocalypse. Just a typical day for a teenage demon trapper.
This novel launches readers straight into the thick of the action. Jana Oliver holds no punches, immediately introducing readers to the harsh realities of this grim and gritty future. Riley finds herself in one unbearable situation after another, and the men in her Guild are far from supportive (considering she's the only female trapper -- ever). Though this world is bleak, it is brilliantly constructed: descriptive, complex, complete and self-contained. The fascinating demonology ranges from the downright gruesome to the adorably gremlin-like. It is especially intriguing that the demons are not a secret, but a daily fact of life in this brutal future. The mythology Oliver has built is rich, and half the fun is learning more about its intricacies.
Yet, there is an interesting contrast between this grungy world and the quippy narration. Riley is definitely a cynic, and she is strong, smart and determined to prove herself. The novel evokes the hopelessness of this future with apparent ease, and it is impossible not to feel for Riley as she endures the unimaginable. However, though Riley is a sympathetic and rounded character, it is nearly impossible to like the rest of the Guild. The male-dominant world is appallingly misogynistic and crass. While that may be the effect the author was going for, it sometimes made reading uncomfortable. Yet, it is refreshing to read a YA novel in which romance is not the primary focus. The Demon Trapper's Daughter does feature some teen love, but by-and-large it centers on the fur-flying, demon-trapping antics of the Guild -- full of action, danger and mystery. Jana Oliver has created a fascinating, utterly original story that will add spice to the repetitive YA fare.
Disclosure: I received an advance copy of this novel from the publisher. This did not affect my review in any way.
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Part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge.