The Devil’s Kiss by Sarwat Chadda
**I read an Advanced Reader Copy of this book.**
The teenage daughter of the Grand Master of the Templars in modern day England deals with a double life as a trainee templar and the return of a dark angel of death intent on spreading a plague.
I liked the story and the easy-flowing prose. I would recommend it for YA readers, but not for adults. The writing was so cinematic I could actually picture each scene, and the story is definitely exciting and fast-paced.
But the characters lacked some complexity. Billi whines about how tough her life is, but as the only intersection with the real world we see is her being bullied at school (quickly taken care of by her psychic friend) the poignancy of her double life (she has to maintain school grades while battling vampires) is somewhat limited. In the end there are no consequences for Billi in the real world of her battles with the otherworld.
The Templars themselves remain somewhat hazy for me: how they get money to live, how they recruit, why it seems they’re the only ones in the world fighting ghuls and vampires.
The story, while very interesting for the Judeo-Christian-Islamic influences, in the end did not reach an emotional depth for me. I loved how Billi would say things like “Still can’t eat pork” when the only food left in her fridge was sausages. However, the characters remained somewhat flat. Yes, Billi was the bad ass fighter and her friend the boy, Kay, was the psychic seer who didn’t fight. However, we never get any real depth to Kay or to Billi’s father, Arthur, to make us care about them. The romantic element is very light. I can’t say that the “he understands how I love/hate my father” really convinced me as a reason for Billi to fall for Michael. But I did love how the little detail of her noticing the way a guy’s throat is the way the book signaled Billi’s attraction for a guy.
Disney Hyperion books is the publisher, and in a way, the book screams disney to me: vividly drawn scenes with instantly recognizable characters who are heroic and pure and probably very appealing to the right age group.