Monday, May 27, 2024

Hell for Hire by Rachel Aaron: review

4/5 stars on Goodreads

Hell for Hire by Rachel Aaron

Hell for Hire starts a new Tear Down Heaven UF series. It’s set in a modern-day Seattle and a world where humans are ignorant about the supernatural around them. It’s not a fun or good world for non-humans. 5000 years ago, Gilgamesh conquered the Paradise that held both heaven and hell, killed its rulers and enslaved all demons. Magic is strictly regulated for warlocks and sorcerers. Only Blackwood witches hiding inside magical forests are allowed to do free magic. And they’re all women.

Adrian Blackwood has been given to warlocks as a child to train with them, a concession Blackwood witches do to keep their freedom. But he escaped and trained as a witch, and the warlocks have hunted him ever since. He’s come to the other side of the States to Seattle to grow his own Blackwood forest, to lure the warlocks there and fight them once and for all.

He hires security that turns out to be four free demons who really shouldn’t exist, as all are enslaved by warlocks. Their leader, Bex, turns out to be more than meets the eye, and she draws the ire of the heavens on them too in addition to the warlocks. Fighting Gilgamesh is something she’s been doing for a long time, but for the first time, she has magical help.

This was a good start to a series. The world is interesting and based on a fresh mythology, and Adrian’s magic is fascinating. Adrian and Bex are great characters with backstories that were only brushed here. A romance may be building between them, but it’s only hinted at here. Side characters, Bex’s demon team and Adrians familiar Boston, remained a bit one-dimensional, but perhaps we get to know them better in following books.

Nevertheless, this didn’t hit me quite as hard as Aaron’s previous UF series set in post-apocalyptic Detroit. The pace was slow, the third person point of view was distancing, and there was no proper plot that the characters would be driving, just events. This is sort of a two-act book, where there is preparation for an event that is known from the start, and then the event, the final battle. No highs, lows, or turning points in between. It feels short an act and low on emotions.  The ending is good though, and sets the war to come. It’ll be interesting to see how the odd group pulls that off.

I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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