Chase the Dark (Steel & Stone #1) by Annette Marie

23200514I really liked this book and recommend it to everyone who likes urban fantasy with dark & dangerous demons and scary “angels”. The world building is not really unique but still interesting. After humanity almost wiped itself out during something akin to World War III, the demons from the Underwold (dark) and Overworld (bright) revealed themselves and destroyed all mass destruction weapons thus saving Earth, their favorite playground. Humans now live in a kind of dystopian future, where consul intermediaries (try to) keep the peace between humans and demons from both worlds. I really liked the backstory; I just wish Annette Marie would have taken the time to describe the world more. It felt slightly as if something was missing. I didn’t get a real feel for the world the characters lived in. This is mainly because the story is too focused on the action and lacks insight delivered in inner reflections by the main character. From another point of view there is no info-dumping. Yeah to that! Instead the information is told in bits and pieces, strewn in almost as an afterthought. Even though the premise is interesting I think the book could have profited from a little bit more reflection or inner monologue.

The action is fast paced and thus the book never gets boring. I’ve read it in two days and I am really looking forward to the next in the series. Piper, a Haemon (a cross between human and daemon) wants to become a Consul just like her father. But then the Sahar, an ancient amulet, is stolen and Piper is suspected of the theft. On the run from both the demon hunters and human prefects she can only rely on the help of two demons: Ash and Lyre to uncover the truth behind the attack on the consulate and the whereabouts of her father and her uncle. Their journey leads them from attack to attack and fight to fight. From her home consulate to a hospital, an underground fighting club, an abandoned manor in the woods and some few stops in between. I was really drawn into the story but would have wished for a little bit less fighting and more character interaction. All the fighting felt a little bit repetitive interrupted only by some surprising and some not so surprising twists and turns. It’s here that you see clearly the inexperience of a debut author but one that I am sure in time and with more writing will get masterful in delivering a gripping and fascinating story.

What I really loved in this story are the characters and the build-up of the romance. Despite the blurb, there really is no love triangle. Thank God. I loved how the author delivered slowly more and more information about the characters. It was like peeling an onion. Everyone has hidden depths and motives. Some are revealed in this book, some secrets remain to come undone in the future. For me this is exactly the reason to give it 4 instead of 3 stars, because every character here has strengths but also weaknesses. Piper is good fighter, headstrong, with her head on her shoulders. But sometimes she acts rashly and impulsively not thinking everything through and it gets her into bad and dangerous situations. In fact it makes her a really bad consul apprentice as in mediation is clearly not her forte. But also it makes her a good fighter and one who will not so easily give up. She is just the right amount of spunky and fragile and she has humor. I liked her character, a lot. And I’m eagerly waiting to read more about her adventures.

In the end it’s a well done coming of age, action oriented urban fantasy with nasty demons, mythological creatures and a spunky heroine. The romance was well developed, leaving room for more in the future. The book reminded me a little bit of the movie Immortal (2004) and the series Penryn & the End of Days by Susan Ee, although sadly not as dark and freaky. It also reminded me sometimes of The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare with the consulate.

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