Monday, July 16, 2012

Double Review: Soul Thief + Forgiven

Jana Oliver
Paranormal Young Adult
St. Martin's Press
Available Now
Bought/Received from publisher for review

SOUL THIEF (the story from Goodreads)
*the synopsis for Forgiven contains spoilers from Soul Thief, so I'm leaving that out*

Riley Blackthorne is beginning to learn that there are worse things than death by demon. And love is just one of them…

Seventeen-year-old Riley has about had it up to here. After the devastating battle at the Tabernacle, trappers are dead and injured, her boyfriend Simon is gravely injured, and now her beloved late father’s been illegally poached from his grave by a very powerful necromancer. As if that’s not enough, there's Ori, one sizzling hot freelance demon hunter who’s made himself Riley’s unofficial body guard, and Beck, a super over-protective “friend” who acts more like a grouchy granddad.With all the hassles, Riley’s almost ready to leave Atlanta altogether.
But as Atlanta’s demon count increases, the Vatican finally sends its own Demon Hunters to take care of the city’s “little” problem, and pandemonium breaks loose. Only Riley knows that she might be the center of Hell’s attention: an extremely powerful Grade 5 demon is stalking her, and her luck can't last forever… 

Soul Thief and Forgiven are books that build beautifully upon their predecessor, giving us much-desired character growth while intensifying the demonic presence in Atlanta until we’re on the edge of our seats wondering what’s in store for young Riley both physically and emotionally. The world of the demon trappers is a dark one, the number of those fighting evil greatly overwhelmed by the number of demons intent on destroying them, but through it all we have characters who acknowledge they’re outnumbered and yet refuse to accept it, standing strong against an onslaught from Heaven, Hell, and humanity itself. Ms. Oliver does a magnificent job creating her world – one that’s close enough to our own as to be familiar and recognizable, and one that’s richly enhanced by each and every individual that occupies it.

The first book in the series introduced us to Riley Blackthorne, a strong and captivating young woman who challenged us at every turn. Our relationship with her was often troubled due to her relationship with fellow trapper Beck, her lack of maturity in dealing with him hindering our ability to fully support her, but in both Soul Thief and Forgiven we see her put in a great deal of effort to salvage a relationship with the man she’s wanted forever and who rejected her a few years prior. She’s infinitely more patient with him, accepting his verbal jabs without always returning one of her own, and all the while trying–though admittedly sometimes in vain–to open channels of communication with him instead of bottling up her hurt and anger until she can only release it by hurling an insult in his direction.

Riley and Beck are truly the highlights of this series, their relationship a painful dance of want and need accompanied by a healthy dose of fear that they are unworthy of the other person’s love. While both sides make huge steps forward in dealing with one another, things are in no way easy for them, and they often revert back to what they know best – defending themselves and their hearts through offense. Riley and Beck are both a colorful array of emotional bruises, making it extraordinarily difficult to watch as they poke the other person's tender flesh with a practiced finger, knowing just where to touch to inflict the most damage before retreating behind the armor both have painstakingly donned to protect themselves. Where the Riley and Beck of The Demon Trapper’s Daughter repeatedly cut one another with their verbal blades before retreating to separately lick their wounds, the Riley and Beck of Soul Thief and Forgiven don’t always run after leaving the other bleeding, instead they attempt to acknowledge the wound and the reasons for causing it so they can avoid the same injury moving forward.

Forgiven concludes with Riley and Beck both in difficult situations, but the final lines leave us with a great deal of hope for the future, everything we’ve learned about Riley thus far telling us she’s a fighter who won’t back down from a challenge. Foretold promises to be the most intense of the series, things between our two protagonists finally reaching the point where they’re going to have to decide if simply wanting to be together will be enough to make it happen, and I for one can't wait to get my hands on it.

Rating: 4/5


  1. Oh I thought it was a Trilogy and it was done now? Anyways I had similar problems with the first book, you said

    " her relationship with fellow trapper Beck, her lack of maturity in dealing with him hindering our ability to fully support her, "

    and that was exactly my problem with them! But, I loved Beck and I truly want to get back into this series, now that I hear you liked it so much!

  2. I too am dying to get my hands on the last book. I like that both characters have matured so much throughout the series. It leaves me anxious as to what is going to happen in Foretold.

  3. I LOVE this series...Soul Thief was amazing!!! Forgiven was great but I didn't think it was as good as Soul Thief ,Foretold is out this August (EEEP!! ) December for US though..
    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

  4. I was kind of on the fence about continuing this series after the first book, but your double review makes me want to pick the series back up. Well played, Jenny. Well played.

  5. With so many varied reviews on the first book, I left it on the shelf for when I had time (haha). But, after your reviews of the next two, I might have to get into this series. Love that the MC grows and matures, which helps her relationship. Like Amanda said, "Well played." Heh!

  6. Like EEP!!! I cant read this review, I haven't even read the first book yet, I wasn't going to read it because I thought the main character was a demon, but now I know its about a demon hunter so Im going to give the series a go....:) So Ill read this review later

  7. I've wanted to check out this series forever, I don't know why I haven't! These are ones I actually don't even own!

  8. When I first looked at the covers I thought they were two different books, it just did not fit. But hey who cares in the end if the book is good

  9. "their relationship a painful dance of want and need"

    Oh, Jenny! You have such a way with words. *licks your brain*

    I still have yet to read book one, but now I really want to, just to check out Riley and Beck for myself.

  10. I desprately need to get back to this series. I love Riley and Beck and the dark world of the demons. I just hope the duo gets it right and realizes they are right for each other. So glad this series continues to excel! Thanks for sharing you fantastic views on these, Jenny!

  11. Danny - Danny, I originally thought it was a trilogy as well, but there's definitely a 4th book. I got really irritated in book one, but I really enjoyed these two:)

    Nicole - ME TOO! I need to know how things work out for Riley and Beck!

    Krazzyme - I thought both of these books were great, I'm a little addicted to this series now:)(

    Amanda - hahaha thank you :) I highly recommend continuing, I didn't want to really after I finished book one, but I'm really glad I did:)

    Mary - Growth is huge for me. If they're irritating in the beginning but I know they mature as things continue on, I'm willing to be forgiving. Stick with Riley after book one!

    Tina - She's not a demon, I promise! And there's no possession type stuff in this one, the demons are more monsters than Exorcist type stuff:)

    Ashley - GET ON IT! The first book was a bit of a struggle for me with Riley, but both of these were awesome I thought:)

    Linda - They are 2 different books, same series though.

    Missie - I love you. That is all. Also, Riley and Beck might be new favorites - they're deliciously dysfunctional:)

    Heidi - YES! We must compare notes!

  12. I've been seeing this series around lately and I'm interested in seeing what it's like. I'm glad that you really did enjoy the books. Now, I'm sure to get myself copies of the books. Riley and Beck seem like great characters who have grown from the previous books.
    I love the ideas behind the series.
    Lovely review, Jenny. :)

  13. I really, really, REALLY need to get my hands on a copy of Forgiven! I was so angry with Riley after the second book so I put off reading the third book to cool down a bit, but after the way everyone has been gushing about it, I don't think I can resist :') I'm really happy to hear that it ends with hope instead of a cliffhanger. That makes me even more excited to read it! <3

    Amazing reviews, Jenny! :)

  14. Amazing review. Funny thing: I've never heard of these books before but now I really, really want to get my hands on them!

    ~Kailia @ Reading the Best

  15. Nick - I loved how much Riley and Beck grow throughout. They can be really frustrating at times, no doubt, but I really do enjoy them:)

    Mimi - I was angry with Riley too, but I had Forgiven and was able to start it right away, so I didn't sit around stewing very long luckily:) I think you'll really like the third book!

    Kailia - YAY! Glad I could bring them to your attention:)

  16. ECKKK! Love this series so much. Riley is my kind of gal. I love how much she grows within the series. I can't wait to see how it ends :))

  17. Two reviews in one?!?! Awesome!!! Anyway I STILL need to start this series but the fact that you enjoyed these two really makes me want to get to it asap! The relationship between the characters and the ending both sound wonderful! Thanks for sharing Jenny! Wonderful double review!


  18. Oh I agree Jenny, I can't wait to get my hands on Foretold! Beck and Riley have definitely been the highlight of this series for me too. There's a sense of inevitability surrounding their relationship, but I love the journey that they've taken us on to get there, however excruciating it may have been at times. ;) I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how things wrap up in the final book. Amazing review! :)

  19. I absolutely LOVE this series. I still have to read FORGIVEN, but I love the banter between Riley and Beck. And I'm glad I'm not the only one! Great review, Jenny, as always! :)

  20. OMG! This is an amazing review. You saw deep inside Riley and Beck's damaged hearts and understood exactly what is driving them together and apart. They have to be the most emotionally complex characters I've ever written and it's been a challenge to show their growth over the course of the books. But there is growth and, as you say, it all comes down to FORETOLD.

    I will genuinely miss these guys when the story is completed.


  21. I'm really happy to hear you ended up liking them! I've heard some really great things about this series from a friend and have been super curious ever since, but I've never really taken the step to finally picking it up! I'm starting to think I should give it a try though. :) Great review!

  22. I'm absolutely in love with this series! Beck is definitely one of my favorite leading men right now. I read Forgiven about a week ago and I'm just dying to get my hands on Foretold! I'm glad you liked these two Jenny!

  23. Oh my God Jenny... OH MY GOD!! I read the first book and truth be told, I liked it but it didn't hooked me enough to read its sequel. Now with your review... Holy cow! Im SO gonna pick these two books soon because you just did it for me! Specially when it come to Riley and Beck's relationship oh my god!! It seems to be so at the edge and complicated at the same time!! I LOVE drama!!! kyaaaa!! and you said it so beautifully; "their relationship a painful dance of want and need accompanied by a healthy dose of fear that they are unworthy of the other person’s love" You brilliant girl! Im SOLD!!

    Happy reading my dear ^.^

  24. I was on the fence about this series for awhile, but I really like what you had to say in your review, so I think I'll add it to my tbr! I think it was the world building that first intrigued me about this series so I'm glad you thought so highly of it! And I can deal with any immaturity with characters and relationships in the first book so long as it improves later on in the series, so that's good to hear as well. Thanks so much for this review, Jenny!

  25. After I read the first book in this series, I wasn't interested in continuing - even though I love the concept. But your review has me reconsidering. I like that Riley grows up. That was my issue with her in the first book. I do love Beck.

  26. I have had the first one for ages but still haven't read it. Now I know that even if I don't LOVE it, to give the second one a chance at least. Good to know!

  27. Sounds like you have found me more books to want. That and having me want that 3rd book as well. *sigh* Guess I will have a huge wishlist again...

  28. I think the Riley-Beck relationship would annoy me, Jenny. I've just started reading The Demon Trapper's Daughter (although I keep putting it away) and so far it's been okay so let's hope it stays that way.

  29. Sounds like the 2nd and 3rd books are stronger than the first. I like the cover change. I have Soul Thief so I guess I should give it a try. Your review is encouraging as I know we had the same misgivings about The Demon Trapper's Daughter, though I think you liked Beck more than me.