This is going to be a different review from my usual. Regular readers to my blog know that I very, very rarely DNF a book.
To me, a DNF doesn't necessarily mean the book is horrifically offensive or badly written. After all, I pushed all the way through Fool Me Once and Whitney, My Love.
Nowadays, though, I've started reading differently. I read slower than I would like (I'm sure everyone with a TBR thinks they read slower than they would like), so lately when I'm with books that are tiresome, I've found myself skimming. But I've never yet brought myself to DNF (Did Not Finish) a book.
Until this one, and it was a tough call, let me tell you.
I loved the previous book in this series, Demon Angel. I thought it had excellent world-building (the idea of angelic Guardians guarding the human race from demons and vampires), fantastic characters (Lilith is one of my favourite heroines ever), and a great love story.
Demon Moon, on the other hand, had a lot of stuff. Incredibly detailed, pointless, and probably unnecessary stuff. And two characters with really complicated and detailed magical backstories and less-developed actual, uh, human problems who have to make a romance in all of that.
So our hero is Colin. I loved him from his appearances in Demon Angel and in Meljean Brook's story "Falling for Anthony" from the otherwise-terrible Hot Spell anthology. So you'd think I'd like him here. Well, he's not bad, but ... he's a vampire, only he's a special vampire because he got turned by a nosferatu (a bald, creepy proto-vampire) instead of another vampire, and he's also special because his blood was tainted by a magic sword used to kill a dragon, and he's also super duper special because for some forgotten and doubtless complicated reason he is also capable of seeing into the Chaos realm whenever he looks at a mirror. And he also, like, spent a week in Chaos. For reasons. And this screwed him up, I think. Because of reasons.
And our heroine is Savi - a human girl who was practically raised by Hugh (the hero of Demon Angel) and her grandmother after her parents were murdered, so she also knows Colin by association. And she's also a brilliant computer programmer - who's secretly working for the government. For reasons. And when the novel opens, she actually gets mysterious superpowers after she uses computer wire, spit, and a mouthful of hellhound venom to take out a nosferatu who's smuggled his way onto her airplane. Yeah.
Oh, and she and Colin apparently spent a week in Caelum (the non-denominational version of Heaven for this book, it seems, although we still have Hell), something I did not at all remember from the previous books, and it was apparently a very emotionally contentious time for the both of them because they spend pages and pages hinting and circling around what happened instead of just out and telling us. ARGH!
From the first hundred and fifty pages I read, the external plot is that the nosferatu that were trapped in Chaos by the Good Guys in the last book due to some incredibly complicated shenanigans are now trying to escape, using other incredibly complicated shenanigans - calling for Savi, Colin, Hugh, Lilith, Selah and Michael to come up with EVEN MORE COMPLICATED SHENANIGANS to save the day.
At least that's what I got out of it. In my opinion, this novel was way, way, WAY too complicated for only the second book of a series. I constantly felt like I was missing something and that I had to keep up. I couldn't get involved with the story or invested in the characters because I was too busy trying to keep all the useless, unnecessary worldbuilding facts straight (what's the difference between a vampire's bloodlust and sex-lust? I HAVE NO CLUE but apparently it's really important in the early stages of the romance). There's Earth, Caelum, Hell and the Chaos Realm. There are vampires, nosferatu, Guardians, demons, hellhounds, werewolves, and wyrmwolves. Each with their own rules and special powers and this Guardian can teleport, but this Guardian can't and this demon can but only on Sundays, etc etc. etc.
After about a hundred and fifty pages, I gave up, exhausted. I didn't want to read anymore, I didn't care about the characters at all, the romance at this stage was just so one-note (Colin wants to get into Savi's pants but he has to do it in a douchey-seductive-vampire way because he doesn't want to reveal that he has feelings and Savi really doesn't want people to bite her but Colin is sexy so she'll let him). Just ... no. When I realized that reading this book had become a chore, and that there were 300 pages left, I just gave up. Life is short.
It reminded me of Marjorie Liu and her Dirk & Steele series, and how she's managed to have such a wonderful, detailed paranormal series while avoiding these very pitfalls. I was confused by Meljean Brook's second book (even after reading the first one and the "Falling for Anthony" short story), but I started what turned out to be the eighth in Marjorie M. Liu's series (The Wild Road, which has one of the best virgin heroes of all time) and loved the hell out of it.
Even so, giving up this book was difficult - I like the author herself, it wasn't badly written, there were a lot of original concepts throughout, and I'm sure I would have found the characters and their romance more interesting if the romance had been better incorporated into a streamlined paranormal plot instead of feeling like a distraction to the all-encompassing, overelaborate paranormal plot.
That being said, readers, have you read her other books? Are they still worth reading or will skipping Demon Moon leave me even more in the dark than I already am? Is The Iron Duke any good?