Saturday, March 10, 2012

Book Review: Soul Thief, by Jana Oliver (fourth review for the 2012 TBR Reading Challenge)

Here's my fourth review for this
wonderful challenge!!

For the rules and a list of hosting blogs,
just click on the challenge button in my sidebar.

There are great prizes involved,
so be sure to check out
the rules and consider joining in!

Title: Soul Thief (The Demon Trappers #2)
Author: Jana Oliver
Format: Trade Paperback, 339 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
Genres: YA Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

This second book in The Demon Trappers series opens with a horrible disaster -- a throng of demons has broken through the holy water circle at The Tabernacle, where the Demon Trappers Guild meets on a regular basis, in order to discuss pending matters.  Riley's father suddenly appears, warning her about the attack only seconds before the evil horde comes storming in... Pyro Fiends set the building on fire, and many trappers are killed, either in the ensuing inferno, or in close combat with demons.  The entire city of Atlanta is shaken by this tragic, totally unexpected event, which has not only destroyed the Tabernacle itself, but the surrounding area, as well.  The city's mayor sees only one solution: to call in the Vatican's fearful Demon Hunters, much to the dismay of the trappers, who feel displaced, and have never gotten along with the hunters. 

Incredibly, the finger of suspicion comes to rest on Riley herself.

There's so much going on in this book!  Simon, who became Riley's boyfriend in the first novel, has been injured in the attack, and it takes Riley's secret deal with Heaven to bring him through.  Beck is constantly worried about Riley, as usual, feeling responsible for her safety.  And handsome, mysterious Ori, the freelance demon hunter, turns out to be the biggest surprise of all. 

Oliver has a real gift for character development, although, in this installment, I didn't always like who her characters really turned out to be, or the choices they made.  Riley in particular, who has remained a very strong central character, comes across as rather indecisive in certain sections of the book.  Well, I guess falling in love will do that to the most strong-willed woman.  

The plot mixes magic with Catholic beliefs, as the first book did.  This mixture attracts and repels me at the same time.  I feel pulled two ways.  I felt particularly uncomfortable while I was reading about the summoning of a spirit.  However, the most abhorrent thing was the fact that the dead could be "reanimated", as the author puts it, when summoned by a necromancer.  In other words, they became zombies.  Incredibly enough, they were then sold to the highest bidders as servants, remaining with their masters for a year, at the end of which their bodies began to disintegrate...It bothered me that no one in either the first or second book seemed interested in putting a stop to this evil practice.  True, the demons were a priority, but still, this was something that should have been banned.  Instead, it was totally legal, which was even more troubling.  Because of this, I will never include these books in my Favorites list, either on my blog or on Goodreads.

What I loved the most about this book, in spite of the uncomfortable aspects of it mentioned above, were the characters, their penchant for introspection, and the nearly non-stop action.  One event seamlessly flowed into another with barely a pause.  I also loved the ever-present theme of the war against Hell's minions.  

I wanted to hate this book, much as I wanted to hate the first one.  I simply couldn't, however.  It's much too good!  The pacing is just right, the interlocking psychological motivations of the characters is absolutely fascinating, and well, so is the window into the supernatural world provided by the story, even though it's a bit frightening.

Mortimer, a necromancer who is one of the minor characters, emerges as a very compelling one in his own right.  His compassion toward Riley made me like him in spite of his chosen career.  When, toward the end of the novel, Riley has gotten into deep trouble, he's the one who takes her in and hides her.  

I also like Ayden the witch, another minor character, and the one who performs the spirit summoning ceremony.  She does this in order to help Riley, who is desperately searching for clues about her father's disappearance.  Ayden comes across as very compassionate herself, as well as very down-to-earth.  

Then there's Peter, Riley's best friend.  His mother, whom he has nicknamed "The Warden", doesn't like Riley, and tries her best to keep them from seeing each other.  Peter staunchly stands by Riley, even helping her unearth some clues about the holy water mystery still going on, which started in the first book.

One of the most interesting things about the book, though, is the relationship between Riley and Denver Beck, her father's former apprentice.  There are definite undercurrents that indicate they really care deeply for each other.  Yet, they somehow can't seem to admit this, either to each other, or even to themselves.  They're intent on keeping each other at arm's length.  Riley has fallen for Simon, and guiltily feels attracted to Ori.  These two are a convenient cover for her buried feelings for Beck.  As for the latter, he has busied himself with Justine, a reporter whom Riley immediately dislikes.  Similarly, Beck also dislikes Ori.  Hint, hint!!

I was disappointed that Riley, in spite of her determination to bring down demons, didn't get to do that much trapping in this novel.  True, she's just an apprentice, but she is, after all, the main character.  I really wish that Oliver had written at least one good fight in which Riley could have trapped an important demon.  

My biggest disappointment, though, was Ori himself.  He just didn't turn out to be what I was expecting.  But then, real life does throw us some very unexpected twists at times, and people are not always what they seem to be.  I know this from personal experience. 

In spite of my reservations about this book, I love the characters so much, and the events described are so exciting, that I simply can't give it anything less than four stars.  I would have given it five, had it not been for the already mentioned aspects of it that made me so uncomfortable.  This is solidly entertaining writing!  I found myself feeling compelled to read it to the very end, and am anxiously awaiting the third installment in this amazing trilogy!  How's that for mixed feelings?


Where To Buy:  Amazon

Jana Oliver


  1. Not a bad rating for a book that you wanted to hate.
    I have been mildly curious about this series. I just might have to give it a try.
    Thank you for your wonderfully penned review. I can always count on you for your insight.
    -FABR Steph@FiveAlarmBookReviews

    1. Yes, I'm surprised at that rating myself! I really SHOULD be hating this book; it contains elements of the occult that definitely clash with Christianity. But I've always been fascinated by the supernatural, Christianity itself has plenty of that! What bothered me the most was the whole zombie scenario. I felt so bad for them!

      Thank you so much for complimenting my review!! I really enjoy writing book reviews! I only wish I were able to read faster, and had more time, so I could review more books...

      Thanks again for the great comment!! : )

  2. This sounds like a really interesting book. I love the new pictures on your blog header, by the way. Are you going to use Swan Kingdom for Shelf Candy? Because if not that's certainly one the most beautiful covers I have ever seen!

    I gave you an award! Come see :)

    1. Oh, it definitely is, in spite of the objectionable elements!

      As for the cover of "The Swan Kingdom", the answer is "Yes, I'm planning to use it in a Shelf Candy post!" I haven't done so yet because I don't know where I put the darn book...I have so many of them here, sometimes I lose track of where I put them! Lol. You see, I need to have the book at hand in order to see who created the cover. Otherwise, I can't Google the artist(s)! But what the heck, maybe I'll put it in anyway. I agree -- it IS one of the most beautiful covers ever!!

      Now I'll go check out this award!

      Thanks for the great comment!! : )


THIS IS NOW AN AWARD-FREE, AND TAG-FREE BLOG. Thanks for the compliment, though! : )

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