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Devil's Kiss Hardcover – September 1, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—Sarwat Chadda's fast-paced novel (Hyperion, 2009) combines modern London with a fantasy world of ghuls (vampire/ghoul), weres, the Grigori (fallen angels), the Knights Templar, Arthurian characters, and a dash of Harry Potter. Thanks to a prophesy, Bilquis (Billi) SanGreal is the only female member of the Knights Templar. Since she is also the youngest, she tries to combine school with a rigorous training and patrolling schedule which she resents. This makes her easy prey for the attention of Mike, a handsome and mysterious young man who appears to understand her better than anyone else. But Mike isn't what he appears. He's the Archangel Michael on a quest to bring forth his watcher brothers and sisters, trapped in the ether by Solomon's mirror—protected through the ages by the Templars. Filled with Biblical lore, magical words and symbols, and medieval history, the novel takes listeners on a roller-coaster ride, leading to a tumultuous denouement. Anna Flosnik does an excellent job of voicing all the characters. A highly recommended listen.—Suanne Roush, Osceola High School, Seminole, FL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
Starred review. Chadda's fast-paced debut introduces 15-year-old Billi SanGreal, who is drafted into the modern remnants of the once-great Knights Templar by her fanatical, emotionally distant father, leader of the order ("How was school?" he asks while she's still "covered in slimy gore" after an exorcism). Though skilled in weaponry and educated in obscure religious history, Billi is a poor fit for the Templars: the lone girl in an otherwise all-male organization, of Muslim extraction but surrounded by Christians and lacking the unblinking ruthlessness required by the eternal war between the Knights and the forces of darkness. Nonetheless, she finds herself standing between the Angel of Death, Michael, who has become blinded by imagined glories of enforced salvation, and the multitude of innocents Michael would happily slaughter in the name of God. Scenes of spiritual warfare are gripping (and often gruesome), as is the undercurrent of supernatural romance. Chadda offers an original take on familiar creatures like vampires, the undead and fallen angels, but it's Billi's personality and tumult of emotions that will keep readers hooked. A promising beginning to both this series and Chadda's career. Ages 13-up. --Publishers Weekly, September 7, 2009
This fast-paced debut novel introduces readers to a modern London in which humanity is threatened by the hungry dead. The Knights Templar, an ancient order now operating in secret, is all that stands between the regular world and supernatural threats-and loner Billi is the only girl ever to become a member of that order. It is not a position of honor, however: her father, leader of the Order, demands ridiculously high standards without ever giving her a word of support, comfort, or love. Instead, he praises Kay, once Billi's best friend and possible love interest. She longs for a normal, simple life, which will have some readers sympathizing with her, while others more familiar with the genre will realize long before Billi does that normal is well outside her reach. Urban fantasy readers will also see plot twists before they are resolved. Chadda does an excellent job of drawing on Christian, Jewish, and Muslim folk stories to create the mythology for this world. Billi's mother's Muslim background and her father's oddly secular Christian devotion provide the book with a feeling of authenticity, as those traditions are meshed over the course of the book. The open ending leaves room for sequels, and Billi's growth makes her a more appealing narrator for future installments. Devil's Kiss will certainly find an audience, despite its prickly narrator.-Alana Joli Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT --School Library Journal, November 2009
Forget the jacket blurb's come-on to paranormal-romance fans, this is an old-fashioned high-octane horror tale, dripping with ghastly portents, eldritch violence and an embittered heroine facing down the looming Apocalypse. Billi SanGreal has been training since childhood to fight alongside the remnants of the Knights Templar, the mysterious medieval order founded to oppose the dark powers. Now dwindled to a handful of battle-scarred men, none is more grim and cold than their master, her father. Billi takes comfort in her friendship with the young psychic Kay, but when he carelessly invokes a long-dormant evil, she must confront a force more powerful, more monstrous, more tempting than anything she could imagine. The glorious splendor of the Templar mythos is deftly contrasted with the squalid dreariness of their present, illuminating the refuge they find in the cleaner, simpler problems of ghouls and werewolves and the fleeting beauty of innocence they so brutally defend. But Billi, in her anger-from simmering to white-hot-and her pain-physical, emotional and spiritual-dominates the story with gritty, fierce humanity. Love, loss, betrayal and sacrifice, leavened only with the bittersweet grace of doing what must be done. Deus vult! (Horror. 12 & up) --Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2009
Top customer reviews
I thought it was a really good story that completely depressed me. Billi's life was so sad, with her father trying to make her hate him because of misreading a prophecy, dying children, and then the ending. Yes there was hope, but, I was not in the mood for an unhappily-ever-after book. Good if you are interested in a harsher, more gritty read.
Update: I rarely go back to change a review, but this one has stuck with me, past the first reading. And now with book 2 coming out, I'm finding that I really appreciate how different the tone was in this book, how gritty it was, and how that makes it stand out. I'm really looking forward to the next one.
Billi's Father is the master of the Knights Templar, while her mother, a Pakistani Muslim, was killed by one the very monsters Billi, her father, and the other Knights fight against each and every day. Billi is being trained as a Templar, much to the irritation of the older, more cantankerous of the Order. Despite the training, all Billi really cares about is having a normal life. She wants to be able to do her homework at night without having to assist in slayings and Ghul, Were, or Grigori attacks. She wants to meet boys and have a real relationship. Most of all, she wants her friend, Kay, another Templar in training, to return from Jerusalem where he is learning to hone his psychic abilities.
When Kay returns, though, his powers get him in trouble. He underestimates his abilities and almost allows a group of angry fallen angels (Grigori) escape hell. They were able to close the portal, but not before the Grigori are able to call for their one free brother- The Angel of Death. The Knights are preparing for a fight, but Billi just wants to spend time with the mysterious new guy she just met- Michael. What Billi doesn't know is that her unconventional and sometimes terrifying life is about to get a whole lot scarier.
Packed with history and mystical fiction, this book is really a page-turner. I read it in one sitting and was sad to see it end. The characters are deep and complex while the story is tinted with dark creatures, religion, and a modern girl who just wants to listen to her iPod and enjoy being a teenager. I love how Chadda is able to combine an ancient mysterious order with the life of an average present-day teenager. This is a great book for both guys and girls, with enough action to keep anyone interested. It isn't too gory, but there are some harsh parts with the creepy Ghuls. If you have a student who is a little bit darker than Harry Potter or Twilight, but still likes the magical, mystical type of book, this one is sure to be a screaming success! Now I am just going to keep my fingers crossed that Chadda decides to continue Billi's story!
The book starts off in an extremely grim spot. Billi Sangreal is on her way to becoming a Templar like her father always wanted but there is one final step. The Ordeal. Holy Batman of Tests! Hers is a whopper. There is a six year old escapee who is actually a ghul running around, even though he is cute and cuddly his soul is gone, but Billi has a heart so it goes a little something like this:
He's just a little boy...
"No, Billi!" shouted Arthur, but too late. Billi dropped to her knees and embraced Alex. She pulled him close to her heart and-
the chill seeps into her pores, saturation her skin with ice. Like venom, black ichor floods her veins, pumping her with Alexs's despair, envy, and
that he was snatched from the sunlight by sweaty hands and crushing fingers, in the dirt and fallen leaves, never to feel the
he misses so much and wants more than anything, and so he sucks it from her, leaving only coldness that is brittle and bone-deep, the air out of her lungs white frost, and her
blisters, and tears freeze on her cheeks, and she stares into Alex's eyes, black and malice-filled, remembering only the
that he cannot forget, and it eats him, an abysmal virus that he can't contain, so she must
like he did, and the cold burns her heart as he infests her with his darkness burrowing deeper and-
So even though he is only six you can see what type of beast the Templar's are up against and why they are still in business. There is a lot of mythology surrounding the Templar in this book but it isn't the same hum-drum stuff. I went through a phase where I tried to read that hence me buying this book. I DNF'd a lot. I was like "Oh yeah Templar's woohoo" but when I got it home it was all conspiracy theory, shadow government stuff. What Chadda did that was so very interesting is use an almost shadow world full of ghuls and rogue agents of God who the Templar's protect. Billi's mother was lost in an earlier battle, that you learn more about in the ending of the book.
I do have to say that if you find Billi a bit whiny in the beginning stick with her, she grows on your by the end. Try to place yourself in her situation, ratty apartment, despondent dad, best friend shows up after being gone a year. She doesn't even really want to be a Templar. I think Billi evolves through-out this book and I truly enjoyed seeing this evolution of character. Sarwat Chadda is an amazing author, I loved the bits of story like the one I excerpted for you above where you see the really dark stuff, and I laughed out loud a lot too. I will say he writes like a British drama so don't get overly attached to any of the characters.
It was also oh so refreshing to read a book where the main character wasn't white! Billi is half Pakistani and I loved the description of her so much. You could just see her kicking some ghul ass with a sword.
If you haven't read this book you should pick it up. Dark Goddess book two in the Billi Sangreal Series is out now!