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awakening sc mitchell

Book Review: Awakening, by S.C. Mitchell

I picked up a freebie copy of S.C. Mitchell‘s Awakening (Demon Gate Chronicles, #1) from Amazon. I read it as part of my March Awakening Challenge, where I set out to read eight books titled Awakening.

awakening by sc mitchell

Demons among us…

Thousands of years ago, a portal opened between Earth and the demon dimension of Ballor. Since that time, demons have been crossing over to hide among us cloaked in illusion.

Jack Hughes is cursed. Each full moon, his body is taken over by a demonic force. He’s learned to cope by locking himself in a cell each night to keep the demon from breaking free. It’s a dark secret he’s not willing to share with anyone, until one night when the demon breaks out.

Sorceress Anna Brown is one of the leading experts on demons for the Arcanists. She knows Jack’s secret and how to help him, if he’ll let her. The local demons are after Anna. She has a power they want to control. Does she have enough magic to save Jack and keep the local Demon Lord at bay?

my review

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this is super bad, though I might say it’s bad. Either way it’s far too simple and uni-dimensional to be called good. There is no depth here, not of characters, plot, mystery, world, anything. It makes for a predictable and uninteresting read.

On a personal note, I work assiduously to avoid rape in the books I read for entertainment. Despite that, it creeps in pretty regularly. It always annoys me. But it is especially annoying when authors use it as a short-hand for evil. Want a character to be an obvious villain? Make him a rapist, no further development needed apparently. But it’s even worse still when authors do this and don’t have the decency to call it rape. Mitchell has a horde of demons who keep harems to breed lesser demons and he references it repeatedly. But the sanitized language hides the horror of what he’s actually suggesting. The word rape isn’t once used in this context, despite rape being referenced multiple times. If you’re going to base a large portion of your plot on rapists raping, then have the decency to use the language.

Speaking of demons, it was painfully obvious that almost no real thought or creativity went into them. Mitchell held in his hands the chance to create something new and interesting, and I thought he might when one of the first demons was mentioned to be sexless. But as soon as we meet the rest of the demons we run right into patriarchal, no-thought plotting. The male thinks about his female mate as a good mate because she knows her place (below him), but he’s ready to trade her for someone younger and fresher. He leers and threatens rape (by any other name), etc. He’s a blunt instrument of a villain and the demons in general are cardboard cutouts.

All in all, disappoint but readable.

Review of Blood Demon (Demon Assassin Series, #1), by A.C. Wilds

I picked up a copy of A.C. WildsBlood Demon through Booksrout.

Description from Goodreads:

Meh, not horrible, but awful shallow and not overly smooth. Anima far too easily accepts the word of Torque and turns her back on everything she’s ever known. And then goes straight to assuming/understanding a threat that hasn’t truly been explained to her. The plot hardly hangs together in a followable fashion, leaping from one event to another. I felt NO tension in Anima and Torque’s ‘romance.’ And the whole thing ends on a cliffhanger.

It’s readable and I imagine those who are into demon kings and motorcycle club presidents and magical assassins and fallen angels (yes, we have all of those included here) might like it. But it was not a winner for me personally.

Review:

Meh, not horrible, but awful shallow and not overly smooth. Anima far too easily accepts the word of Torque and turns her back on everything she’s ever known. And then goes straight to assuming/understanding a threat that hasn’t truly been explained to her. The plot hardly hangs together in a followable fashion, leaping from one event to another. I felt NO tension in Anima and Torque’s ‘romance.’ And the whole thing ends on a cliffhanger.

It’s readable and I imagine those who are into demon kings and motorcycle club presidents and magical assassins and fallen angels (yes, we have all of those included here) might like it. But it was not a winner for me personally.

Review of the Redneck Apocalypse series, by Eden Hudson

I picked the first book of the Redneck Apocalypse series, Halo Bound, up as an Amazon Freebie. I then bought Hell Bent and God Killer. It would have been cheaper to just buy the boxset, but of course I didn’t think to do that in advance. Oh well. I wrote the following reviews as I finished the books, prior to reading the next in the series.

This description is for Halo Bound, but it describes the whole series well enough:

The holy champion chosen to save the world is enslaved to a sadistic fallen angel and losing the battle for his sanity.

The guy chosen to save the holy champion is his binge-drinking redneck brother.

So, basically, the world is screwed.

Meet the Whitney boys:
Colt—a mentally unstable holy soldier with a rapidly deteriorating hold on reality. His last plan to rid the world of evil either failed horribly or went off without a hitch. With the constant torture and brainwashing, it’s getting hard for him to remember.

Tough—a smart-mouthed honky tonk hero addicted to music, women, and good times. He hasn’t spoken to Colt in five years—not since their disagreement over a nymphomaniac vampire turned into a drunken slugfest—but they’re still brothers. Tough knows he can’t leave Colt fighting for his life and his sanity alone. The question is whether Tough can fight off his personal demons long enough to save Colt from the literal ones. 

Halo Bound, also called How to Kill Youself in a Small Town:

Good enough that I immediately bought book two. (And when you have thousands of ebooks on your reader, buying a new one to continue a series is a big compliment to the author.) 

It started out quite rough. It’s set several years after a big human/fallen angel war and you definitely feel like you’re missing a little something…and like people are just getting on with the new normal a little too easily. There’s no sense of it the new laws are only in effect in Halo or in the rest of the world too. 

Also, the characters are meant to be in there twenties, but they feel very much more like teens. Take the sex out and this could easily be a YA book. I do wish they felt a little older. Lastly, the naming convention for women is a mess. Honestly, Mitzy, Tiffani, Sissy, Tempie and Desty? (I’ll add a post-read edit to mention book two has a Candi too!)

But despite those two real complaints, the book is dark, funny and plot is an interesting one. It grapples with some heavy themes that I appreciate. All in all, worth the read. I’m glad I took a chance on it. 

Be warned however, it’s a cliffhanger. And not the ‘some threads wrap up, while others are left open’ cliffy. The sort where the plot just stops because the book is the prescribed length and the story needs to be broken into a series. 

Hell Bent:

This is an enjoyable second book. The characters are still dealing with some dark issues and it turns out being the chosen of God isn’t all holy robes and angelic music. Being his representative in a Holy War is just as dirty and bloody and shit-stained as any other war…more so. 

I didn’t think this one had quite the depth of book one. A lot more of it is spent in the minds (and spiritual warfare) or two characters. It fills the pages, but the plot didn’t progress as far as I’d hoped. Having said that, I plan to read book three.

God Killer:

This ended largely as you’d expect, given the subject matter. But it was still nice seeing how it came to be. Though, Hudson doesn’t shy away from letting people die. She and George RR Martin must lunch on Mondays or something. But it’s good. As much as it hurt, what sort of Holy War would it really be if everyone miraculously survived? When playing in the field of the divine, humans are small and fragile.

I do have to point out that though book one uses Christian mythos in the plot, I wouldn’t have called it an explicitly Christian novel. Book two is…well it’s a middle book, but I’d mostly say the same for it. But here in book three? I think you really need to buy into the Christian belief to roll with the ending.

This is the spoiler I mentioned above, because I want to address that ending. It basically boils down to God saying ‘X turned their back on me. But I love them and as soon as they call out to me I’m there.’ And when the person does, God saves the day. Now, I’m not oblivious to the story Hudson was telling. I understand that X had to live the horrid life they did so that Y could see one person lose everything over and over again and still choose the path of righteousness. I see that. But why did God wait until the very last moment? Why was it the only one that mattered? X had called out to them many times. His brother literally crawled through the agonies of Hell calling out to him. Their parents raised their children as holy warriors, their belief was so strong. And an entire town walked into almost certain death calling out to him. (That’s just in Halo. One assumes similar things are happening around the world.) Why did none of those calls matter? Only the last one.

This is where I can see an actual Christian simply rolling with God’s plan. Because there obviously was a plan. But as a non-Christian all I see is the same disinterest in human suffering that left Y thinking he was just as cruel as Lucifer himself. The plan seemed to be let humanity suffer until the very end and then claim it was their own fault, as far as I was concerned. So, I really didn’t buy the ending. I appreciate that the writing brought the story full circle and it was well-written, but I don’t possess the needed belief system to make me interpret it the way Hudson obviously intends. I can recognize it, but I soundly reject it as not supported by the evidence. Which left it a little dissatisfying.

I also thought God (or JC as one aspect of him was called) was just a little too guy-next-door. He had no gravitas. And I resented that Desty and Tempie (yeah the naming convention of women was horrible) became rape-barbies. Sure, none of it was graphic. We don’t see them, but we’re certainly told it happened over and over again.

All in all, this is a series with great writing, but one that abandoned me in the end. But for a religious reader, I think this could be a real win. Just know you have to walk through darkness with the characters first. And honestly, that’s what kept me reading the series. Not that I enjoy the horrible things that happened. But I appreciated that Hudson didn’t shy away from them. The characters did horrible things to survive. They made unbearable mistakes. They lost and stole and cheated and sided with the enemy and suffered. But still they struggled on. It’s worth the read.

Note: Please don’t roll up in my comments trying to explain the Bible or biblical lore to me. I understand it well enough for this purpose.