Review: Death's Hand by S.M. Reine ★★★★★

Death's Hand by S.M. Reine
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Descent #1
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 9781937733001
Page Count: 366
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Copy: Own Purchase
Reviewed by: Janice
Synopsis: 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...


REVIEW


Holy hell. What a ride!

The story begins several years after the events in the novella, Death's Avatar. After saving the world, the demon-slaying duo, Elise and James, are now retired and doing their best to lead normal, quiet lives. Elise is, of all things, an accountant, and her witchy companion, James, has a dance studio. The biggest concern Elise has is keeping her business afloat....until James asks her to meet with the Martinez family, whose young daughter, Lucinde, may be possesed by a demon. Elise is understandably reluctant to get involved. She doesn't hunt demons anymore, doesn't perform exorcisms. Those days are behind her. But James is determined to help the Martinez family, and so Elise grudgingly agrees. Little do they know, there is a lot more at stake than the life & soul of a young girl. The fate of the world itself hangs in the balance.

Death's Hand is a perfect blend of urban fantasy & horror genres. Told from alternating third person POV's, it features a genuinely kickass heroine, some seriously brutal action sequences, and more than a few creepy moments. When it comes to world-building, the author seems to follow the "less is more" policy. It's a risky move on Reine's part, and one that may alienate some readers. In my case, it didn't. I didn't need to know every little detail of Elise's world and back story, and frankly, I enjoyed the hints, teasers & flashbacks much more than if everything had been laid out for me in all its gory detail.

There's a tiny bit of romance in the book, but not between Elise and James. I'll admit, I was a bit disappointed by that. Here they are, bound as kopis & apsis (demon hunter and witch), with over 10 years of shared history, and yet, as far as I could tell, they've both stayed firmly on their respective sides of the relationship line. I thought a few times that one of them might be open to something more, but the hints were very subtle and there's a good chance I was reading into it. Or not. I honestly don't know. Their relationship is very...murky. There's a weird intimacy between them that even now, I can't quite capture in words. Sometimes they act like father and daughter (James is 12 years older), other times like comrades-in-arms, and then there were those brief and tantalizing moments when everything else just sort of falls away, leaving just the two of them in their own private world. I suspect my hopes of an Elise/James romance are doomed to be dashed, but for once, I don't mind. They are so utterly fascinating, I simply must keep reading about them.

**Note: If you plan on reading this series, I strongly recommend you read the novella, Death's Avatar, first.

5 Stars ★★★★★

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