Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “There are monsters in both worlds…and friends of neither.”
Seven years ago, the Veil that separates humanity from what lies beyond was torn apart, and New Orleans was engulfed in a supernatural war. Now, those with paranormal powers have been confined in a walled community that humans call the District. Those who live there call it Devil’s Isle.
Claire Donnelly has a secret. In a world where magic is forbidden and those caught using it are punished by incarceration in a prison called the Devil’s Isle; Claire is known as a sensitive. One in a few who developed magic after the Veil between humanity and the fae opened; spilling war, death, destruction into the world. As store owner in the recovering war torn New Orleans, Claire keeps her head down and hopes no one ever suspects what she is. When she is forced to use her magic to defend a young woman and herself from an attack, Claire is caught by a young man and forced to confide in him or face arrest.
Liam Quinn is a bounty hunter who hunts sensitives and other supernatural beings and takes them to Devil’s Isle. Having lost most of his family during the war and its consequences afterwards, he has good reasons for having issues with sensitives. He knows what Claire is and worst, what she can become if she doesn’t learn to control her powers. He offers to help her find a teacher to train her, though he warns her the minute she becomes dangerous, he will not hesitate to take her in.
When it becomes clear that the Veil is attempting to reopen, Clare and Liam will have to learn to trust one another if they want to keep New Orleans from being destroyed altogether.
Though Chloe Neill is best known for her best-selling PNR Chicagoland Vampire series, I see potential for this newest UF endeavor. Set in modern day New Orleans, Neill starts this series off by building a strong foundation, mixing fact and fiction to create a new world to explore and an engaging character ensemble. Steady pacing engages the reader through the beginning is a little slow moving as Neill gives us the necessary facts needed to understand the past in order to go forward in the story. Bigotry, deception, fear, and betrayal play a large part in helping to amp up the action as it increases and the story picks up speed, racing to the finale. Even with the multiple story lines; you never feel overwhelmed or confusion.
Claire is a likable mixture of vulnerability, loyalty, and bravery. Scared of what she is and could eventually become, she doesn’t hide herself away. Raised by her father, she continues to run their family store after his death during the war. Her love for New Orleans and it’s inhabitants remains steadfast as even she struggles to find her place in a world that doesn’t want her kind. She goes into enemy territory multiple times, knowing if caught it could mean the end of her freedom, to try to save lives and discover the truth about what is happening. She is the perfect affordable UF heroine-one you know will continue to evolve and grow as time goes by.
Liam is one of my favorite types of heroes. Gorgeous and built, this alpha/beta mix has a sweet and considerate nature that mixes well with the reluctant heroic vibe that generates from him. Some low key angst and internal baggage explains his general weariness towards Claire without making him come off as a jerk. Not one to keep things hidden, he is as honest as he can be with Claire from the start, wanting to gain her trust without promising her all will be fine because he knows he may eventually fail in that promise.
Chemistry wise, Liam and Claire click almost instantaneously. Neill chooses to build a friendship between them with a ‘possibility’ but no assurances as neither is in any position to pursue anything remotely romantic at this time.The storyline and subplots take up the majority, leaving the potential for romance a nice side dish to complement the story.
Heavy characterization is what gives this story the push it needs to keep from becoming run of the mill. A multitude of personable characters add depth, cohesiveness, and some light moments to the story; allowing readers to view what has happened from different viewpoints. I enjoyed meeting the various paranormals; learning that brought them through the Veil and why. Neill makes a heavy point in that there is a gray area to the war and subsequent imprisonment and these people hold the answers. There is a youthful feel to the characters and their actions. For most of them, the war started when they were in their late teens and their dialogue and attitudes in the face of opposition reflects that.
Overall I enjoyed Neill’s newest release overall though I wasn’t blown away by it. There was a curious lack of excitement, anticipation, and tension. Our hero and heroine are perfect…almost too perfect. Liam is nice. Claire is nice. Almost everyone we meet is in essence…nice. There isn’t much antagonism between anyone and any that appears is quickly dealt with. Same with the conflicts. There was never any doubt in my mind that Claire could and would handle anything thrown her way because the story foreshadows that using Claire’s personality and willingness to help and learn. I think I would have enjoyed more if we had seen any of the characters face true adversity with the possibility of losing.
Regardless of my issues, I will read book two as I am curious to learn more about Claire, Liam, and this new brave world.