TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 21 November 2010
Allay had been born human. But ten years ago, as a teenager, she stumbled across a dying demon and ended up absorbing its essence. Since then, Allay has been the only living hybrid. She resides in New York City, working as a bartender on the Lower East Side, where she draws energy from her patrons' pain. Drawing the energy not only comforts her customers, but also feeds Allay. Allay is not the first hybrid, but few survive long due to their tendencies to go insane. The essence of a hybrid is extremely sweet and lures demons from all over. To survive, Allay has the protection of Vex, one of the most powerful demons in the world. To earn Vex's protection, Allay passes off payments from the Fellowship of Truth to various individuals, who in turn deliver them to many of the city's high-powered businessmen. The Fellowship of Truth had been founded by Vex long ago, as churches are often above even the law.
Shock was Allay's first demon friend. She is still the only demon Allay full trusts. Like Allay, Shock feeds from her clients. However, Shock is an EMT, easing the pains of her patients as she feeds. Allay is worried when Shock arrives radiating fear and pain. In Allay's apartment above the bar, Shock "splits", creating a new demon. Shock wants Allay to absorb (a.k.a. kill) it. This would renew Allay for two centuries - and Allay is in dire need of replenishing. But Allay refuses to commit murder, even to save her own life. Thus Shock's offspring, Petrify, disappears into the night.
The birth of a new and vulnerable demon quickly lures other demons to the bar. The demon Pique looks like a harmless geek, but he openly attacks Allay in front of many humans. Allay lives only because a human, Theo Ram, manages to break Pique's hold. Allay now has Ram and Shock recovering in her apartment as she begins trying to contact Vex. (Pique is one of Vex's line.)
Throughout history there have been unexplained disappearances of demons. Long ago one demon briefly survived to tell of a demon with the unheard-of ability to conceal his signature essence. Since no demon could possibly mask his signature from others, the entity became a bogeyman among the demons. Few believe the stealth-demon is real; however, after Allay twice saves Shock from an assassin with no signature, she decides to leave Shock in a secure place while she goes to see Vex in person. Dread, Vex's second-in-command at the Prophet's Center, gives Allay a luxury suite as she waits for Vex to return within the next day or so.
Meanwhile, Theo Ram has decided that Allay needs a bodyguard and has taken the position whether Allay likes it or not. The attraction between Allay and Ram sizzles, but Allay refuses to be responsible for placing Ram, a fragile human, in danger. Yet upon Vex's return, Allay learns why Vex has always protected her and keeps her close. Allay and Ram find themselves in the middle of a brewing war between Vex and Glory, who rules Harlem.
***** FIVE STARS! A fascinating and thrilling look into a hidden demon population. The author shows that, just as with humans, there are both good and bad demons. The power structures and demon hierarchy are simple to comprehend, making it easy for me to understand what is going on in Allay's world. Suspense, lies, and betrayals run amuck while unexpected twists and turns kept me reading far too long into the night. Downright captivating! *****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.