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Series: The Demon’s Apprentice #1
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
When 15 year old Chance Fortunato suddenly finds himself living with his long-lost mother and newfound little sister Deirdre, it’s like living in a dream from which he doesn’t want to wake up. What is all too real to him are the 8 years he’s just spent enslaved to the demon Count, to whom his father traded him for power and riches—and the vicious battle he’s just waged to win his freedom.
Chance doesn’t get to enjoy his idyllic suburban life for long before the mystical underworld he’s just escaped comes calling. As much as he wishes he could ignore it, Chance knows in his heart that he is the only one who can track down the murderer of his new friend and mentor, Sydney Chomsky.
Suspected by the police and hunted by the Wizards’ Conclave, Chance discovers dark secrets in every corner of his new life and quickly learns he can’t go it alone. Only an unlikely alliance with Alexis Cooper, head cheerleader and most popular girl in school, can help him survive the confrontation with an unexpected foe. To bring his mentor’s killer to justice, Chance will have to fight evil on its own terms, and discover whether that makes him a hero…or a monster.
Brace yourself. I have claims to state, and I’m goin MLA style by provin em with support from the text, of which there are almost 20, so let’s get this mango stand jumpin.
First off, might I just express how well-aligned with my tastes our tragic hero, Chance Fortunato, is? He’s the kind of underdog I not only don’t mind rooting for but revel in the chance to do so. He reminded me a lot of Cas Lowood (Anna Dressed in Blood), who is pretty much like any other teenaged boy who just so happens to be AWESOME… oh, and trapped in a hopeless situation surrounded by otherworldly things.
Me, I’m Chance Fortunato. I’m a familiar, which is just a fancy word for slave. I pimp souls for [Dulka the Demon Count] and do his dirty work.
In Cas’ case, it was ghosts and witchcraft. In Chance’s case, it’s everything. Demons, wizards, werewolves, sorcery and much, much more! But much the same as Cas, Chance isn’t perfect, and he doesn’t pretend to be. He’s got his flaws, and his soul’s got the scars to bear the evidence as well as his own back. There’s something about him, though, that keeps him from villainy, and it’s intangible, but it made me love him all the more.
“Give me a chance to make this right somehow,” I whispered into the night. “I’ll do whatever it takes. I swear I will.”
Aside from his redeeming qualities, he’s got a bit of a dark side that kinda comes with the territory of serving a demon for nearly a decade as the price to be paid for being his greedy father’s first-born son. Plus, he’s kinda funny.
The marching band was already going, playing some song I’d never heard before, or maybe playing one I did know so badly I didn’t recognize it in its clever new disguise.
But through it all, he’s still a hormonal teenager, and not to an unrealistic degree.
I caught a familiar flash of red in my peripheral vision and switched my gaze back toward the couch as Alexis moved in from my left and bent over the wounded jock. I barely tore my eyes from the way the leather stretched tight across her ass in time to catch her pulling the bloody bandage from his shoulder.
Moving on. This story is drenched with magic. Or, as it’s referred to the The Demon’s Apprentice‘s universe, magick. It makes sense since he’s a warlock/familiar/slave/sorcerer. From the very first chapter, we get a sense of the energies, auras and objects of power that exist in the world, souls, charms, hexes, marks. I was steeped in it, almost to the chin, and I enjoyed how simply well-thought out every aspect of the sorcery was detailed. And I never really felt like it was information overload, either, even when surrounded by it on all sides.
In the Hive, you could find pretty much anything if you knew who to bribe. Forbidden tomes of Infernal lore, illegal ingredients from endangered creatures, or reality-warping devices were all here, for a price. If you knew where to look and who to ask, you could buy people here, mostly by the hour, and oblivion, usually by the gram.
After cleaning up animal sacrifices, or, for that matter, making them, taking out the trash was easy.
At least in algebra, the formulas stayed the same all the time, and didn’t change with the stars.
I was salivating most the time at the depth and realness that guided the aspects of the supernatural. And even on the more mundane side of The Veil, his new friends Lucas and Wanda are great for high school experience milieu. I particularly enjoyed Lucas, who was the peanut butter to Chance’s jelly in terms of hilarity.
“I’m in charge wherever I am, boy, especially with this bunch. I was making werewolves before your mother was spreading her legs for the locals.”
“Did he just go straight to insulting your Mom, Chance? Because that’s like, the ass end of lame,” Lucas asked from behind me.
“Screw that!” Lucas said vehemently. “This guy knows who we are, and I smarted off to him. We’re as ass-deep in alligators as anyone else in this room. We deserve to know the whole truth!”
Anyway, taking into account that Chance dove headfirst into a high school, there are some cliches that are exploited, but those are almost too easy to dismiss given that there’s pretty much an amazing reason behind most of it. It’s actually pretty dark and desperate, hence the “feed the light some dark” shelf, even aside from the sexual assault (not abused or mistreated or handled lightly, I assure anyone reading this), dark magic and involvement from Hell.
If indie books are something you typically shy away from, but this seems like it’d normally be your cup of tea, don’t discount it. It’s a surprisingly well-written, well-thought out, emotionally charged rollercoaster ride through the dark side. I so look forward to the sequel, Page of Swords.
Sit tight for more awesome quotes. I love ’em so. c:
I did my best [to speak French], but I mangled the words at first. As I went along, it got easier, and I liked having something with a little beauty to it running around in my head.
She put a hand on my shoulder and pulled me to her. I was too messed up to give up even a token protest, though I was probably breaking about a dozen rules of being a teenager by letting my mom hug me in public.
“Well, I have a problem with karma. It’s not perfect. I didn’t do anything to deserve being Dulka’s bitch for eight years. If you think I’m going to get back violence three times as bad for what I did today, then let me tell you something. I have enough scars that I ought to have a little credit on the books. But if not, then fine, I can handle it. I’m used to it by now. What I can’t handle is a system that kicks me around for doing something good for someone, even if I have to get a little bloody to do it, just because someone says violence is always bad.” I stopped as Wanda took a half step back, and felt like an ass when I saw the shocked look on her face.
Conclave vengeance was cold, calculated, and almost always done from a distance. Mr. Chomsky deserved better than that. He deserved better from me. I couldn’t walk away.
Then two hundred pounds of fur, teeth and muscle hit the ground a foot away from me with a muted yelp.
“Bad dog!” I said again, shaking the rod at it for emphasis. “BAD! DOG! No biscuit!”
“Wait for me.”
“Until the sun never rises,” I said, quoting an old oath.
I knew then what it was like to be… pure, whole of body and spirit, and never to have known pain so intense that it made me hallucinate. I knew what it felt like to be free. Not only to be free, but to have always been free, never to have bowed my head to someone I didn’t trust or respect. To have had my dignity intact my entire life. To see all that, and end up back in my own head made me feel ever worse.