Review of Debra Dunbar’s Imp Series
I posted a review for the second novel of this series, Satan’s Sword, on Amazon, but since most of you probably haven’t read it yet, I thought I’d give a more spoiler-free review of the series in general here on my blog. Reading the plot description for Satan’s Sword would give away too much of how A Demon Bound ends. Yet I felt compelled to make sure people heard about these amazing books. If you enjoy urban fantasy, paranormal, demons vs. angels, etc with plenty of humor thrown in, this is probably the novel for you to try. I admit to beginning it with a bit of trepidation since I often have the worst luck finding new UF series I like, but it didn’t take long to see this book would keep me engaged.
The first thing to keep in mind is the main character is from Hel (with one L) and is an imp. We all know that imps love to cause trouble in any way they can. Samantha Martin (Sam) is no different. When A Demon Bound begins, she proves her nature right off the bat by purposely opening her car door right as kids are running past it. Of course, she knows they’re going to collide. This might seem mean, but most of her actions don’t actually hurt or kill anyone so it’s mostly harmless. It’s not to say she doesn’t have a cruel streak, but after forty years of living under the radar on earth and trying to avoid angels that would kill her as soon as she made her presence known, she’s learned to keep a low profile. Things like murder and mayhem have to be set aside unless she wants to die in a very permanent way (the angels can sense if she uses too much of her demonic powers). Another thing she is only beginning to realize, though, is that living that long under a more strict moral code amongst humans is changing her. She isn’t quite the horrible demon that left Hel and she has adapted rather well to living a more strict life . Mix her innate naughtiness in, though, and you have a woman whose practical jokes can be hilarious without being too over the top. She’s a woman after my own heart.
So what does a demon do to get by while on earth if she can’t use much of her powers? Especially if she enjoys nice things that requires money? She’s a slum lord and rather good at it. As a way to live the high life and make humans miserable as is her goal, she owns a ton of low-rent apartment buildings. Sam charges as much rent as she thinks she can get away with (considering her tenants are poor), requires them to do most of their own maintenance, and makes sure they pay all their dues–or else. Most of the places she owns aren’t even close to up to code and should probably be condemned, but as a demon she’s rather good at greasing the right hands so she doesn’t lose her very profitable income.
She also has a savvy manager (a human) who does well keeping up with it all for her. Some people might be turned off by the slum lord aspect, but do keep in mind this is one demon who isn’t quite as bad as she seems. Based on how events progress into book two, I think there is going to be a lot of character growth going on as time passes and it’s going to be fun to watch. There is nothing better than seeing an evil person (who despite everything has a lot of likeable traits) evolve into someone who can do good. It isn’t all going to happen overnight, and as an imp she’ll never be one hundred percent “good”, but I think in the end she’ll be what she needs to be. If that makes any sense.
The plot for “A Demon Bound” deals with Sam’s first interactions with werewolves. She’s generally stayed away from the native earth supernaturals and done her own thing, but her naughty hellhound gets her into a bit of trouble and now she owes the weres a debt. The biggest problem with that? It’s going to put her smack onto the angelic radar she has eluded for longer than any other demon who has visited earth (most just take short vacations to avoid detection). She’s not necessarily weak, but the angel she must go after (Gregory) has a one hundred percent kill rate against demons. Sam’s only about a thousand years old and has less experience in fighting compared to him, especially considering he’s been around since the big break-up that divided heaven and hell. Staying alive has just become a lot more difficult. Lucky for her, Gregory finds her useful. It’s only temporary, but she plans to find a way out as soon as she can.
In addition to her were and angelic problems, she’s also got a hot, young human neighbor (Wyatt) who is finally showing signs of being attracted to her. They’ve been living next to each other for a few years as really good friends, but it’s never progressed beyond that. Since the body she’s using is of a middle-aged woman with looks that are more on the plain side, she has always figured the only way to snatch him up is with the powers she’s always trying to avoid using. Wyatt’s interests in her are heating up, though, and this is one relationship she doesn’t want to ruin after developing it for so long. Somehow she’s got to figure out if being with him is worth the risk of her losing control and consuming his soul (yep, this is a regular need with demons). What happens there, you’ll have to read to find out, but lets just say it isn’t any more easy than her battle against the angel, Gregory.
There are many more great things I could say about this series. The world building is unique and in-depth (without being overly so). Pacing is excellent without any dull or slow moments. The humor is natural and never seems forced. The idea of having a main female character from hel who is also a slum lord is fun and original. I loved watching how Sam handles her role as one of the most powerful beings in the area (compared to other supernaturals) while also handling all her properties and human tenants. You can definitely see the author has an end game in mind as to where Sam’s life is going between all this, but the ride to getting there is not going to be so predictable. The only complaint I really have is the occasional typo (they weren’t too frequent) and a formatting issue in the second book that put over half the novel in italics (on my iPad). The writing was so good, though, that this was only a minor annoyance.
I’m definitely looking forward to the third novel due out sometime early next year and will be picking it up as soon as it is. For those wanting comparable titles, I’d say the closest would be the Georgina Kincaid Series. The main characters are quite different, especially since Sam is an imp and Georgina is a succubus, and the world building varies but readers who enjoy one series will probably enjoy the other as well.