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Review: Soul Thief by Jana Oliver

WARNING: If you haven't read The Demon Trapper's Daughter, book one in the Demon Trappers series, then it would probably be a good idea to stay away from this review.

Soul Thief by Jana Oliver

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Release Date: August 30, 2011

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: ARC/Blog Tour
Purchase: Book Depo. | Amazon | Kindle

About the Book:

Riley Blackthorne is beginning to learn that there are worse things than death by demon. And love is just one of them...

Seventeen-year-old Riley has about had it up to here. After the devastating battle at the Tabernacle, trappers are dead and injured, her boyfriend Simon is gravely injured, and now her beloved late father’s been illegally poached from his grave by a very powerful necromancer. As if that’s not enough, there's Ori, one sizzling hot freelance demon hunter who’s made himself Riley’s unofficial body guard, and Beck, a super over-protective “friend” who acts more like a grouchy granddad. With all the hassles, Riley’s almost ready to leave Atlanta altogether.

But as Atlanta’s demon count increases, the Vatican finally sends its own Demon Hunters to take care of the city’s "little" problem, and pandemonium breaks loose. Only Riley knows that she might be the center of Hell’s attention: an extremely powerful Grade 5 demon is stalking her, and her luck can't last forever...
Soul Thief starts off directly after The Demon Trapper's Daughter left off, and with that said, the same feeling I had while reading the first book came back to me. But it was short lived. To say I'd expected so much for the sequel is the absolute truth. And yet, for me, it didn't deliver.

I think the pacing was the real problem. It didn't move fast enough for me, especially for a book set in a world full of demons and angels, and their captors and devotees. I keep feeling like a full-scale war, a big battle or something exciting and epic is looming closer, but still from a considerable distance. I enjoyed Soul Thief's predecessor, and made allowances for it's semi-slow pacing, because it was the starter book, the intro to the series. But in the sequel I expected more of a BAM! kind of deal. The search for Riley's dad was a bit tedious, in that she didn't explore any very intriguing avenues to locate him. The only aspect of her investigation that I found remotely interesting was being amongst the necromancers, but I came to find that they weren't nearly as exciting as I'd thought them to be. Since a good chunk of the book was consumed by the search for her father's corpse, I felt... bored. Where was the perilous action, the deadly fights against the hellish fiends everyone's so worked up about?

The fighting, especially toward the end of book one, was one of it's biggest appeals for me. That and Beck. And unsurprisingly, Beck and Riley's, I don't know, thing antagonized my already rising level of frustration with the book. In book one, the tension between the two was a good thing, even when Riley began seeing Simon (and don't even get me started on him), but during take two I just grew aggravated. Perhaps it's my innate impatience, that generally comes out while reading. But more likely it was the fact that their complex relationship was losing it's appeal... until the second half of the book.

Have I mentioned, yet, that my feelings for this book are also complex, like, immensely? One minute I was bored, the next faintly intrigued, leading up to engrossment, then down to frustration and annoyance, suspicion, concluding with a surprising eagerness for the sequel. My interest was piqued when, finally, a freakish demonic attack happens, the whole business with Ori and the reasons for his involvement with Riley are unveiled, and I got to learn some rather astonishing deets about the Prince of Hell and his role in the Good vs. Evil dilemma. Then when Riley and Ori's relationship turns toward the unexpected very quickly, the irritation came into play. Beck was no better, and I couldn't help but be angry at him for his reactions to some of the trouble that crops up toward the end. 

By the end though, Jana managed to snag me again. To the point where I'm confused, edgy and restless to learn what's going to happen next, and that growing anticipation, that burning hope for what Beck and Riley could have, what--I'm hoping--they will have together has been rekindled somehow. And if I'm not mistaken, this is all boiling up to one gigantic, battle-tastic ending to the trilogy. I'm at the edge of my seat, and I'll be devastated if I'm even partially disappointed come the third book.


Riley dug in her messenger bag, retrieved a pen, and began a list on a crisp white napkin.
Find Dad
Bust Holy Water Scam
Save the World
Buy Groceries
Do Laundry
As she saw it, if number three on the list didn't work out, the last two weren't going to be an issue. (6)

"She and Simon have taken a fancy ta each other, did ya know? They were holdin' hands and kissin' before the meetin'. They didn't think I saw them."
"Kissin'?" Beck felt something heavy form in his chest, like a stone weighing on his heart. Had to be because of the demon wound; they always made you feel sick. It wouldn't do for him to think of Riley as more than just Paul's little girl.
"Ya didn't know?" the master asked, all innocence. 
Beck shook his head. He'd known Riley and Simon were spending time together. They were both apprenticing with Harper and saw each other every day. But he hadn't realized their relationship had gone that far. She was only seventeen, and now that both of her parents were dead he felt responsible for her. Sort of like a big brother. Sort of something more. (9) About that brother part...*cough* Yeah, right. *cough*