Book Review: Hellsbane by Paige Cuccaro (Series, #1)
Emma Jane Hellsbane has always had the ability to sense other people’s emotions, and she turned that into a comfortable career as a “psychic.” All that changes when the cute jock from highschool who mysteriously disappeared halfway through senior year lands on her doorstep with a clawed stomach. She swiftly finds out that he’s a nephilim–half human, half fallen angel–and so is she. Without intending to, Emma Jane finds herself swept into the war between the angels and the fallen, as well as attempting to pay off the debt for her father’s sin.
This was a classic case of not a bad book but I’m not the right audience for it. I definitely don’t think the summary of the book that I read was quite as clear about the book’s Christian leanings as the one I just wrote for ya’ll. If it was, I wouldn’t have picked it up.
What we have here is what I’m thinking is probably a new category of Christian fiction I was completely unaware of –Christian paranormal clean romance. Now, I know at least two of my followers who would absolutely LOVE this book for exactly those reasons. Alas, that’s exactly why I didn’t like it.
The Christian mores and doctrines have a strong presence. We even go so far as to have Emma Jane come from a Catholic family but be an agnostic herself until hell and heaven literally show up on her doorstep. As an agnostic myself, I found it rather patronizing to have an agnostic character proven wrong by flesh and blood angels and demons. Y’know, like that would ever actually happen in real life? The whole scene just felt smug. On the other hand, I could totally see as a Christian enjoying seeing someone convert from agnostic back to Catholic. And yes, this book is heavily Catholic. There is a lot of talk of saints and levels of sin and etc… This of course means that there are things that I just don’t agree with (like the whole Emma Jane being held responsible for her father’s sin), but that’s only natural considering that this book is geared toward people who believe in those sorts of things. Kind of like how I can’t stand The Chronicles of Narnia for similar reasons.
The fact that this is a Christian romance also means that there is ZERO SEX. There is one pretty tame kiss. If you want clean romance, this is your book, but if you’re like me it, um, is not.
The only thing that bothered me that I can’t chalk up to not being the target audience is the surprising lack of racial diversity in a book set in Pittsburgh. Seriously, woman, I know there are black people in Pittsburgh! And we’re not just talking oh the characters are white. They all seem to be blonde-haired, blue-eyed white people. This would make sense maybe in um….Wisconsin perhaps. Not Pittsburgh. Cuccaro really should focus on more diversity in her future books.
These things said, Cuccaro is generally a good writer. The plot is complex, the characters well-rounded, and the sentences are well-written.
Overall, this book is well-written for its target audience–Christian, probably Catholic readers looking for some clean paranormal romance. If this sounds like you, you should check it out.
3 out of 5 stars