Death’s Hand (Descent #1) – SM Reine



Policing relations between Heaven, Hell, and Earth is messy and violent, but Elise Kavanagh and James Faulkner excelled at it– until coming across a job so brutal that even they couldn’t stand to see one more dead body.

Now they’ve been pretending to be normal for five years, leaving their horrific history a dark secret. Elise works in an office. James owns a business. None of their friends realize they used to be one of the world’s best killing teams.

After years of hiding, something stirs. Bodies are vanishing. Demons scurry in the shadows of the night. A child has been possessed.

Some enemies aren’t willing to let the secrets of the past stay dead…


Note: The cover and the version I’m looking at represents a free collection of the first three books. This review is only for the first book in the collection/series

You know, after not reading urban fantasy for such a long period, I feel like I’ve been practically binging it recently. Between Flex, Kindling the Moon, this and Curse Servant (which will post on Friday) I’ve read four urban titles in as many weeks. It has to be a new record for me! Sitting on my Kindle since July 2014, I just kept forgetting about it until I was browsing Net Galley. The author’s name caught my eye and when I figured out why I thought it sounded familiar, I finally decided to give this a look.

And how did it go?


Descent is a series of urban fantasy/borderline horror novels about an exorcist named Elise and her witch partner James. Having “retired” from the business five years prior after preventing the Apocalypse, they’ve settled into mundane lives. He owns a dance studio and is the head of a local coven. She is perennially broke because she decided to become an accountant and serve only demons, who seemingly don’t care to pay the bills. It’s never explained why she doesn’t just focus on human clients and take on a gig for demons on the side. Or why she would want to do their accounting at all given how many have tried to kill her. Or why demons would even need accountants. There’s apparently a whole thriving sub-culture, but aside from a few scenes early on in a demon-owned casino we see none of that. Why not?

Well, because this book is really nothing more than a string of set-pieces. There are two stories that run through this book: a modern day story of the pair getting dragged back into the old line of work and the story of five years ago. The story of five years ago is almost pure action. The story set today is mostly action, with enough down time to get information needed to move the plot along.

That’s not to say the action doesn’t work, towards the end of the book there’s a great sequence in a cemetery where she’s trying to exorcise many demons at once using a Jerry-rigged loud speaker on a Jeep that was particularly enjoyable, and there are a few scenes that seem genuinely horrifying in their sacrifice. It’s just the action alone isn’t enough to compensate for everything else you look for in a book. Elise and James are underwritten and you don’t care about them. The world has potential that is absolutely wasted because we’re never shown it. There is nothing really new in terms of the exorcisms or the demons or any of it.

About the only thing I can say in favor of it, is that this collection seems to be permanently available free of charge. For that price, die-hard fans of the genre might want to give it ago. It’s not badly done, it’s just not that exciting or deep. There’s not enough here to keep me going, but it might hit the spot for you.

Verdict: Skip it

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