Chloe Neill introduces readers to a very different New Orleans than we’re used to seeing in this first installment of her new Urban Fantasy series, Devil’s Isle. It’s been seven years since paranormal beings tore through the veil into this world, kicking off a bloody war with humanity. The veil is closed and the war is over, but the aftermath lingers on. The earth is scorched. Resources are scarce. And magic has bled over into some unsuspecting humans, turning them into Sensitives. They are hunted and interned on a nearby island unless they hide their magic. And hiding has become Claire’s specialty.
Claire is a Sensitive who runs her late father’s mercantile store. She keeps her life small intentionally, with even her good friends Tadji and Gunnar unaware of what she can do. Everything is going ok until she chooses to use her telekinesis to save a woman under attack by wraiths… sensitives who have lost control of their magic. She quickly meets Liam, a wraith bounty hunter, who recognizes what she is –and offers to help her learn to control her magic before it can control her. From there, things get only more complicated, as Claire learns new truths about the so-called enemy; deals with a maybe-romance with Liam; and squares off with the group making new wraiths in the commission of an even more devastating plan.
I liked the world-building here. Born and raised in the New Orleans area, I always appreciate being able to picture the area in context of a book. (Even if I did blink twice at Liam saying he went to Xavier, an HBCU.) Neill did a good job setting the stage for the current condition of the city and if there is anywhere on earth that people would stick it out and stay in their communities despite the wreckage, it would definitely be NOLA.
The characters were ok. I felt like I knew and understood Claire pretty well, but I didn’t feel super-connected to her. Liam… even a little less so. Maybe that will change as more of their history and whatnot is revealed in future books. But here, they were just alright. And their almost-romance was pretty lackluster. The secondary characters were almost totally flat, which is a shame because there was potential there; it was just never realized.
The book ends with some unanswered questions: specifically about how the wraiths were becoming more sentient. And while there is no cliffhanger, Neill sets up an easy path to follow for future stories.
While I didn’t love this book, I did like it ok. I think I will give book two a try. I hope it will grab me more than this one.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Chloe Neill
Release Date: August 4, 2015