Reviewed: December 1, 2010
Series: Raine Benares, Book 3
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 384 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Raine Benares was a Seeker with modest magical talents before donning a necklace that bonded her to the soul-sucking rock of unimaginable power known as the Sahgred. Now she's had a few weeks of fending off both the rock's insidious influences and the attempts of the power-hungry to use her or kill her for their own nefarious purposes. So far she hasn't found anyone able to separate her from her unwanted duty of being the Sahgred's bondservant - and she's been trying. A lot. On the bright side, she's also managed to not get herself or anyone she cares about killed. On the less bright side, that fact doesn't mean the forces of darkness around her don't keep upping the ante.
When a shopping expedition turns into a demon free-for-all, Raine knows that's just how her life is going lately. She's hardly surprised when she finds out the Saghred's protective wards are failing and demons are pouring out of a Hellgate someone opened on the Isle of Mid. Demons and the Saghred are definitely a couple of unmixy things, and Raine's up to her pointed ears in danger as she and her friends race to find and close the Hellgate and stop the insane goblin Rudra Muralin from forging an alliance with the Demon Queen before Mid becomes a demonic smorgasbord and the Saghred is forced to release its souls. And if that wasn't enough of a good time, there's always Sarad Nukpana, less crazy, more pure sadistic evil, who's only a whisper away as he manipulates from inside the Saghred.
Yeah, if it wasn't for the two gorgeous men who care about her, one a source of light, Paladin Mychael Eiliesor, and the other cloaked in darkness, goblin dark mage Tamnais Nathrach, Raine wouldn't be having any fun at all. Oh...wait...even with the two lovelies, she's not having any fun. Not that they wouldn't line up for it if she so much as blinked at them the right way, but a girl's got to have priorities, and staying alive while not corrupting the two men she cares most about is right up there on her list.
The Trouble with Demons is an action-packed thrill ride of danger that takes off fast and goes nearly supersonic as it races along towards its conclusion. Raine and her friends and family are in full sardonic form and the narrative, told in first person from Raine's point of view, is full of her dry, sarcastic wit. It's hard not to like the fiercely loyal but doubly stubborn elf who seems especially adept at stumbling into life-threatening situations. Supported by a rich cast of secondary and ancillary characters full of charm and personality with a backdrop of a wildly vibrant world that's been well defined, the strength of the series lies with the irrepressible Raine and it shines because of her.
That's not to say the series plot arc isn't good, or the individual books don't have intriguing plot threads - it is, and they do. The problem is that in this book in particular, there was tons of action but little story arc progression. A few new wrinkles were added, and a bit more information, but strip that away and Raine is almost exactly where she was at the end of the last book. She's still shackled to the Saghred with all the same nasty implications, still has no clue how to get free of it, still has enemies gunning for her (the same enemies), and she's still conflicted over her relationships with Mychael and Tam. In fact, instead of making strides forward, Raine and crew are actually slightly worse off than they were at the end Armed & Magical (Raine Benares, Book 2) courtesy of an old enemy that made a reemergence.
After three books of increasing conflict and badness piling up on Raine's head, I'm starting to wonder if anything is ever going to go her way, and questioning how soon before we start to see some resolution to the myriad of plot threads introduced so far.
Another issue I had with this book actually extends to the series as a whole. There is a lot of repetition of information and phrasing in the narrative and significantly more exposition than necessary. By now I'm more than passingly familiar with the fact that Raine is a Benares, and all that implies. In each book she mentions that again and again...ad nauseum...and as I'm neither suffering from memory loss nor any other cognitive malady, it's the least appealing aspect of the series for me.
The excessive exposition isn't what I'd prefer, either, but it's easy enough to skim through and I do appreciate the points that I do need refreshed. I just don't need nearly enough refreshing as is provided in each book. For readers new to the series, there's enough provided to get them up to speed without having to read the first two books, but honestly, I wouldn't recommend it. There's too much between the characters - the nuances, the emotions, the bonds - that can't be glossed over in condensed form and which add so much to the series.
I'm a big fan of the series, even with the issues I have, because I'm a big fan of Raine and the rest of the characters. I just hope that subsequent books in the series start resolving some of the many plot threads that have been piling up, including the romantic triangle between Raine, Mychael, and Tam. To be completely honest, though, while I normally have little tolerance for romantic triangles, the one between those three isn't bothering me too much. Of course that's mostly because there hasn't been time for Raine to breathe, let alone expand her dating resume.
I get the feeling that's something she'd like to see change. And really...who could blame her?
Do you have any thoughts, feelings, and/or questions about this review?
This is your chance to express yourself. I would love to hear from you!