The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver
Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 340 pages (plus an preview of the next novel!)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: Received by the publisher for an honest review
Cover: I really like this cover. It coveys the grittiness of the novel (with the city in the background) and the model's pose made me think that Riley would be tough. The glowing sphere adds a hint of magic! Plus, can't be the converse!
First Sentence: "Riley Blackthorne rolled her eyes."
Mini-Review: A gritty, action packed thriller with a leading character you can't help but root for. I loved every minute of it!
Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary demon trapper Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following her father's footsteps. The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta's local Trappers Guild needs all the help it can get--even from a girl. When she's not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice Simon, Riley's out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils--Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life's about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen.
But then a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley's routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood. And as if that wasn't enough, sudden tragedy strikes the Trappers Guild, spinning Riley down a more dangerous path than she ever could have imagined. As her whole world crashes down around her, who can Riley trust with her heart--and her life?
The Demon Trapper's Daughter throws you into a world not too off in the future, where demons are over running the world and Atlanta is falling apart underneath the weight of it. It is in this gritty, rich environment that we met Riley Blackthorne, apprentice demon trapper from the Atlanta Guild, an all male society that traps demons for the church. The world building, the characters, and the plot all come together to make an exciting YA debut that you won't want to miss.
Riley is how a strong heroine is meant to be written. She's completely devoted to what she does because she wants to live up to her father's legend and geniunely wants to be good at her craft. While she's got some insercurities, she doesn't let those insecuritires rule her and she believes in herself enough to stand up for what is right. It is because of this that I loved Riley. This is one of the first femlae characters I've run across that I felt could actually handle herself in a tough situation. Even if she didn't always know what she was doing, she trusted her gut enough to react and that saved her a lot. She's one chick I want around if something was going to go down. I felt for Riley and her plight and I believed in it. Because of this, I was invested in the novel.
To have a truly great female lead is one thing, but then to get the added bonus of Beck is enough to make a girl go crazy with glee. He's the type of guy you can't help but fall in love with. He's certainly not perfect but boy is he a lot of fun. When he showed up at Riley's door and asked her to go hunting with him, I'd have taken his hand in a heartbeat. The chapters that followed him are what made this novel truly gritty and really helped flesh out the story. I liked switching the spotlight to him so I could see what he was really thinking. More importantly, it was interesting to get his point of view on the male dominated society of trappers and how Riley fit in. He's like the older friend you wish your big brother had... all the better to see you with my dear, especially when you're sweaty and shirtless. Major. Literary. Crush.
The rest of the characters helped flesh out who Riley and Beck were. Everyone should have a friend like Peter, who a lot of bit rock 'n' roll with his hacking powers (though the ending disappointed me). I appreciated how much Riley and Beck really loved Paul Blackthorne. I was expecting a domineering jerk from the first two chapters when Riley was so fearful of her father being disappointed of her and was truly happy when he turned out to be a really good guy. Harper was deliciously awful and so easy to hate. They all really made the story come to life.
But by far, the star of the show was Atlanta in 2018. I don't ever want to live there but it truly made for an interesting setting. With necromancer now out and raising the dead for the rich to use a servants, the government collapsing onto itself, the streets not safe, shops closing their doors and the rise of the old fashioned farmer's market for magical goods such as holy water and magic spheres. Demons run rampant in the street and in order to help catch them, the trappers have cateogorized them into levels and only let certain trappers let catch certain levels. They even have nifty catching guides they carry around. So since Riley was an apprentice, she is only able to catch level 1's and the occasional 2's.
I found myself with another third person narration which I am not a fan of but again, the author was able to break away that wall that is usually blocking the reader from the character and I have to say that it really worked well. Oliver had a way of phrasing things that really brought the writing to life. When Riley was sad, I was too.
The Demon Trapper's Daughter truly is an exciting start to a promising series. I loved everything about it. With so many questions left unanswered, you can bet I'll be clamoring to read the second one. I'm proud to be trapped by Riley and am anxiously waiting for more. Don't miss this one!