Night Shift

Saint City Sinners

To Hell and Back

The Demon's Librarian
by Lilith Saintcrow
(ImaJinn, $14, PG-13 for violence) ISBN 978-1-9334-1744-8
Urban fantasy up-and-comer Lilith Saintcrow presents us with what may be the first in a new series, The Demon's Librarian. For certain, it is not part of her two mainstream series, Dante Valentine or Jill Kismet. However, it does bear a strong resemblance in many aspects to her Watcher Society series, also published by ImaJinn.

That aside, The Demon's Librarian was more enjoyable than the Watcher series had been since its first novel. Head librarian of the Jericho City library, Francesca Barnes doesn't know what she's in for when she discovers another library hidden within her own. Especially not when it becomes clear to her that its content about sorcerers and demons isn't just a load of junk. Unfortunately, this discovery comes when Chess realizes that there is something devouring small children in her town - and that she's the only one with the knowledge to prevent the killings by killing the demon committing them.

Ryan is a part-demon member of an elite bodyguard squad. Who their wards, the Malik, are is never made very clear, but Ryan is big and tough and magical while his partner, Paul, seems not nearly so much of any of the above. Ryan is drawn to Chess by the scent of sorcery on her, and quickly comes to realize that Paul was dead wrong when he made the assessment that Francesca Barnes didn't have a smidge of magical talent. At first, it seems that she is just a talented dabbler. However, Ryan soon begins to wonder if Chess isn't a Golden (something else that isn't much elaborated upon), something the world hasn't seen for half a millennia. Unfortunately for the two of them, another, darker, faction has noticed the same thing and wants to apply Chess's developing powers to their own agenda.

Another thing Paul was wrong about: there is absolutely nothing unattractive about Chess. Unfortunately for Ryan, something in his demon makeup creates a bond between him and the woman he loves that makes him uber-protective to the point of crazy, as well as potentially costing him his job.

Understandably, Chess, whose primary excitement in life prior to this was her somewhat dysfunctional family, is slow to accept her abilities, her newfound importance, and Ryan. Then they are both betrayed, which leads to imprisonment and torture. Both Chessie and Ryan are forced to access abilities neither is comfortable with to save their own lives - and to get revenge.

The Demon's Librarian is not a long book, and the heavy action and heartfelt emotions make it move along very quickly. In fact, if Ryan hadn't been a clone of the watchers from the other series, this would have been a four-heart read. The action, the suspense, the interesting personalities are all there. Someone who hasn't read Saintcrows' other books will be more than pleased. Those who have will still enjoy The Demon's Librarian; they'll just walk away from it less satisfied.

--Sarrah Knight

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