Devil’s Punch: A Corine Solomon Novel
Ann Aguirre is one of my favorite science fiction authors. Her novels are always engrossing and filled with memorable characters. Her fantasy series is no exception to that opinion. There is always something to delight in her tales, whether it’s the setting or the action or the people. Devil’s Punch leaves our world behind to explore one inhabited by demons.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“As a handler, Corine Solomon can touch any object and learn its history. Her power is a gift, but one that’s thrown her life off track. The magical inheritance she received from her mother is dangerously powerful, and Corine has managed to mark herself as a black witch by dealing with demons to solve her problems.
Back home, Corine is trying to rebuild her pawnshop and her life with her ex Chance, despite the target on her back. But when the demons she provoked kidnap her best friend in retaliation, Corine puts everything on hold to save her. It’s undoubtedly a trap, but Corine would do anything to save those she loves, even if it means sacrificing herself…”
This book is very different from those that came before it. For one thing, Corine’s “handler” skills play very little part in the plot. For another, the majority of the story takes place in the demonic realm. It’s quite a change, given that the previous books were set in places in and around the Southwest and parts of Mexico (with a slight detour into Peru).
Since the books were dealing much more heavily with demons—and with Corine’s own connection with them—I found this extended look at their world interesting. Aguirre does an excellent job of not only painting the scene, but also at creating a complex society for the denizens of this dimension. As much as I missed the goings-on in Mexico, I wanted to see more of this culture.
I did think that the novel dragged just a bit in a couple of sections, but given that the author was introducing an entirely new world and society, it’s not too surprising. The book definitely picks up speed in the final third and all the prep work that the author did up to that point pays off quite well. It’s worth sticking through a few slow spots to get to the big finish.
The author also took this opportunity to introduce a great minor character, a demon named Greydusk. He reminded me a lot of a character in her Sirantha Jax novels that I particularly like. Although alien in his manners and point of view, Greydusk becomes one of Corine’s staunchest supporters, and Aguirre cleverly uses his differences to make him a likeable character. It shows that just because he’s not human, it doesn’t mean that he can’t be a friend and ally.
Sadly, all things must come to an end, and as this is the next to last Corine Solomon novel, events happen that radically alter the direction of the plot. I’m eager to see how this all resolves in the final book. Devil’s Punch is an unexpected story, and it’s nothing like what readers are used to, but Aguirre still delivers a tale full of suspense and thrills.
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on May 16, 2012.