Review: Devil’s Punch by Ann Aguirre

October 4, 2013 Books, Reading, Reviews 0 ★★★★

I finally finished reading Ann Aguirre’s fourth Corine Solomon novel, Devil’s Punch, last night, and let me just say “OH MY GOD, I CAN’T BELIEVE IT ENDED LIKE THAT.”

I’m going to try for spoiler-free for this book, but there will inevitably be spoilers for the first three books in the series in this review.

So when Devil’s Punch starts, we’re back with Corine in Mexico City as she tries to rebuild her shop and her life after the events of the last book.  She’s going to give Chance another chance (heh), and she’s learning how to use her mother’s witchcraft.  She’s also missing her best friend, Shannon, whom she rescued in her old hometown, and Jesse, her former flame, both of whom have forgotten completely about Corine thanks to a spell gone wrong.

But the story makes a jump there that we haven’t seen before in Corine’s universe.  Usually she has to solve a problem, save a person, etc, and that’s no different.  The difference is that she and Chance have to go into another world.

So far we’ve had hints that there might be something beyond the regular world, what with Shannon’s ghostly radio and the existence of Kel, the nephilim, but in Devil’s Punch, we find out that Sheol, the demon realm, is a very real place.  Shannon has been kidnapped, and Corine is willing to do anything to get her back, including allying herself with the demon Greydusk and letting a heretofore unknown part of her loose from the prison of her heritage.

Ms. Aguirre takes an interesting narrative chance with this book, and beware of spoilers in this paragraph.  At one point, Corine lets the demon queen Ninlil, who has been bound to her family for many generations, take over to save her life, and for quite a long time in the novel, the first person point of view switches seamlessly between Ninlil and Corine, depending on who’s in the driver’s seat at that moment.  I’ve seen several reviews complaining about this, but I actually liked it quite a bit.  Ninlil was a fascinating character that I actually found myself liking in spite of myself.  I wouldn’t want to be her best friend or anything, but there’s a lot there to be interested in.  And having the two personalities fighting for dominance was also interesting to read.

Most of the novel is set in Sheol, specifically in the capital city of Xibalba, and I really like the worldbuilding.  The descriptions of the city and the landscape are very visual and evocative, and I’d love to see some artwork for this book.  It was awesome to see Corine slowly starting to draw parallels between demons and humans, to see them as people instead of just monsters, no matter how monstrous they looked.  So often demons are just… well, demonized in urban fantasy, and while there were some seriously horrible demons in this novel, I really liked how sympathetic some of them were.

The end had me gasping out loud and cursing the skies because aaaargh when is the next book coming out?  I’m not going to spoil it, of course, but I flopped around on the couch for a while, trying to get the angst out of my system.