Sasha – Our female protagonist. Her father was killed, her mother deported. She is sent to live with some extended family and is thrust into a world of supernatural beings: the Mephisto and the Anabo, Lucifer and God. Her story, and how it intersects with Jax is the romance de jour.
Jax – a Mephisto, charged with sending Lost Souls to Hell on Earth to keep them from Eryx’s grasp. He meets Sasha and knows she is destined to be his.
Eryx – another one of Jax’s brothers. But, he is evil to the core. He tries to steal souls while the other brothers try to prevent him from getting them. If he steals enough he can take over Hell and beat Lucifer and steal free will from all humans.
Melanie – the evil aunt Sasha is sent to live with. She was evil before pledging herself to Eryx.
Brett – Melanie and Tim’s son; he’s one of the most popular kids in school and he’s pledged to Eryx.
Tim – Sasha’s uncle. Melanie was Sasha’s dad’s sister and Tim married her. He “rescues” Sasha when her mom is deported, but her retreat isn’t exactly a peaceful or nice place to end up.
Chris – another of Sasha’s cousin. Although he is different from Brett, and in fact he hates Brett. But he doesn’t do a great job of being an overt ally to Sasha.
Jax’s brothers: Kyros (aka Key), Titus (aka Ty), Xenos (aka Zee), Phoenix, and Denys. All other Mephisto. Phoenix met his Anabo (Jane) but lost her to Eryx over 100 years ago.
Main Premise: (Basically from the review to avoid spoilers) Sasha, desperate to know why her father was killed goes to a meeting with a friend where she will meet the head (a guy named Alex) of this secret group (called the Ravens) who can fulfill her desires for a little pledge of loyalty. Never mind its an evil cult where people are required to renounce God in order to get what they want. But, Sasha learns right away that the group is much more then just a bunch of kids faking the renunciation to get what they want. Enter Jax, a son of Lucifer (aka a Mephisto) and the supernatural being destined to be her mate. When Sasha’s mom gets deported, she is sent to live with Melanie and Tim. And her Melanie, evil woman that she is, really doesn’t want her there. And that is the understatement of the century…. Turns out that where Sasha has been sent to live, is near where Jax lives. And Jax tells Sasha all about him, his brothers, Eryx (a brother and the real bad guy here) and the Lost Souls that Eryx recruits and help spread evil in the world. The story is the battle between good and evil and between Sasha and her brain and emotions (does she want to be with Jax forever, despite what it would mean for her and her future).
Locations: San Francisco and Tellerude CO.
Other Important Things to Remember for Later: If a Mephisto can fall in love with an Anabo and love her selflessly, he can be redeemed and have a chance at Heaven. She will become Mephisto too, but still mostly Anabo and she will join the boys in their quest to send the Lost Souls to Hell on Earth. Sasha met her mom right before Jax sent her there. She learned that her mom really wanted Tim to love her and that’s why she told Eryx that Sasha was Anabo. All Anabo have a small birthmark – an “A” with what looks like rays of sunshine. The Mephisto have certain powers like the ability to freeze humans and teleport. Once an Anabo has sex with the Mephisto destined for her, she is marked and the others Including Eryx can sense her. Eryx is one of the Mephisto’s brothers; he killed their mother and now doesn’t belong to Heaven or Hell and he wants to take over Hell by capturing as many followers as possible. He does not know that the Anabo can redeem the Mephisto. This fact was depicted in a 500 year old painting that he wanted (but hadn’t seen) and he did not get it or see it. The Mephisto got a fake to him, but it seemed unclear to this reader as to whether or not Sasha’s mom knew and therefore now Eryx knows. Phoenix lost his Anabo when Eryx raped then killed her many years ago and now his is (Sasha’s words) a martyr. There are beings called Skia who are immortal Lost Souls who are supposed to recruit for Eryx; both Skia and Lost Souls pledge their souls to Eryx in exchange for what they want most dearly and they don’t learn until it is too late that they won’t get what they have been promised. And there are ghosts that are destined for purgatory (called Purgs) because they haven’t forgiven God for what ever reason and the Mephisto help them too. Often, they give them jobs in their complex in Colorado. Children of a Mephisto and an Anabo will be born to join the fight against Eryx. All of Tim, Melanie, Mr. Bruno (the Skia who was recruiting in Tellerude), Chris, Brett and the other followers from Tellerude were captured by the Mephisto. There are a few Purgs we’ve met: Decon (a medieval Moor), Margaret and others. And finally, Sasha redeemed Jax – Jax met God at the end and it was awesome! The Ravens is a school “group” which is all about getting recruits to Eryx. They take an oath and become Eryx. All of Erxy’s followers have a dark shadow by their eyes.
Amazing! Absolutely amazing! I can’t remember the last time I read a book that was such a wonderful love story. I was so happy and sad and frustrated and relieved and angry at various times – the fact that I could have all of those emotions over the story I was reading means it was so easy to feel for the characters and become invested in the story. There were so many unique and wonderful things about this story. I just hope that the second lives up to the first.
Sasha, desperate to know why her father was killed goes to a meeting with a friend where she will meet the head of this secret group who can fulfill her desires for a little pledge of loyalty. Never mind its an evil cult where people are required to renounce God in order to get what they want. But, Sasha learns right away that the group is much more then just a bunch of kids faking the renunciation to get what they want. Enter Jax, a son of Hell and the supernatural being destined to be her mate. When Sasha’s mom gets deported, she is sent to live with her Aunt and Uncle. And her Aunt, evil woman that she is, really doesn’t want her there. And that is the understatement of the century…. Turns out that where Sasha has been sent to live, is near where Jax lives. And Jax tells Sasha all about him, his brothers, Eryx (a brother and the real bad guy here) and the Lost Souls that Eryx recruits and help spread evil in the world. The story is the battle between good and evil and between Sasha and her brain and emotions (does she want to be with Jax forever, despite what it would mean for her and her future). I won’t spoil this here (more details and important things to remember for later will be on my blog after publication), but I will say that I was in tears for much of the last chapter, and for certain for the last few pages.
Despite the implication that this is all super religious, it’s not preachy. It is a good vs evil story, but in more of a supernatural way then a religious way. And as a result, it was so much easier to adore the “good” characters and despise the bad. There was action right from the start – the scene with the Ravens beating Sasha set the emotional tone and made sure that it was easy to adore Sasha as a character and set it up so that a reader had to route for her. Jax and his brother were complex and wonderfully written to. How unselfish he was about Sasha made it so easy for the reader to see, despite his and Sasha’s lack of ability to see it, that Jax really could love her.
The uniqueness of this story was wonderful too. The genre was starting to feel a little stale, and this has brought a wonderful breath of fresh air to the genre. All the same vampire, angel, werewolf stuff was starting to get old. This is supernatural and religious (because it’s based on the relationship between God, Lucifer and those who fight good vs evil) but it’s not really a fallen angel story. Yes, she is still his redemption, like so many other books of this type. But, like in Die For Me, she doesn’t just accept that and dive into the supernatural world despite the consequences because she instantly loves him and can’t live without him, it takes time and relationship development. She even really believes that she will leave him because she struggles with what Jax is – it’s just so easily accepted.
The fact that the author takes time to develop this relationship and the bond between the characters, and we learn most of the workings of this world fairly early, is something that made this book so much more enjoyable. I didn’t feel like the author was keeping secrets from me, trying to hook me in by not telling me everything. Instead, the author did it the hard way (and it was so much better as a result!!!). She built a plot, characters, a setting, and an entire universe that because I had all the information I got attached. While I gave the book 5 starts – because everything was first rate – I would give the author 6 if I could because of the effort and thoughtfulness associated with building a world in such a manner. I am reminded of JK Rowling’s ability to do the same. And I don’t say that lightly or often. I will read the next (however many) in this series because of the satisfaction of knowing what the rules to the universe are, because I know the details to the relationship and why the sons of Hell need their Anabo. That is in stark contrast to some recent reads where I was only sticking around to get the missing information, when I have long been bored of the characters and universe.
There were also some wonderfully crafted sentences and pieces of dialogue. A few chuckles when necessary and the perfect amount of sarcasm when also called for. I must say that Ms. Faegen has talent and can turn a phrase with the best authors out there. I am not sure I can praise this book enough.
A note on the title: I sometimes feel compelled to comment on the cover art, the title, or both. Here the cover art is ok – not terrible but not something that would have driven me to picking it up based on that alone (although I think I need a job reading books and writing the snippets, because this snippet “on the jacket” (aka here on goodreads) doesn’t do it justice at all) but it wasn’t terrible either. The title is important, it is the driving force explaining why each Mephisto needs his own Anabo, and we get the explanation fairly early. And it’s a wonderfully romantic idea which is sort of explained in the snippet but isn’t done justice.
The only word of warning – this is clearly written for the YA audience. And while from my perspective, the following is certainly not a criticism, there are a scene or three that were steamier then expected based on the intended audience. If you shy away from the idea of reading about a high school girl loosing her virginity, you might want to be prepared. The author handled it in the most beautiful and tasteful way, but it is there for those who are all anti-teen sex.
Finally, I adore the idea that this series will see a book per Mephisto, taking a page from the more adult PNR scene. I haven’t been able to confirm that but it is the sense I get from the author’s website. That lets us have the universe for some time, a big bad guy in Eryx to battle for the entire series, but lets us get a nice dose of romance in each installment.