Reading level: Adult
Trade paperback: 400 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Pocket Books
Release date: December 26, 2012
Series: The Imnada Brotherhood #1
Source: Review copy via Edelweiss
Reviewed by: Jenn
A rising star on the Covent Garden stage, Bianca Parrino believes she has everything she wants. Independence. Wealth. And a life finally free of her violent, abusive husband. But when her close friend, Adam, is murdered and Bianca is suspected in his death, she is unwittingly drawn into the search for his killer and soon must question everything she believes—about her friend, about herself, and about a world she never knew existed.
A member of the mysterious race of shape-shifting Imnada and part of an elite military unit, Captain Mac Flannery gathered intelligence during the Napoleonic wars. As a result of a savage massacre, Mac and the men he served with are cursed. Now one of them has been found murdered, and Mac suspects the existence of the Imnada has been discovered at last. His only link to unearthing the truth is the beautiful actress who turns up unexpectedly at Adam’s funeral.
Before long, Mac has more to contend with than Bianca’s overt mistrust, his ill-fated attraction to the haughty and beautiful actress, and his ongoing search for an end to the curse. Because Adam’s killer is back, and Mac is next on his list.
I love a good Regency romance every once in a while and so I couldn't wait to give Alexa Egan's series a try. On the whole, I enjoyed it, though it did have some flaws.
To start with the good stuff, though, I have to say how much I loved the setting and world building. Alexa Egan has created a very cool world and the mythology is nicely explored without overloading the reader. In this world, there are the Imnada, a race of shapechangers decended from aliens, and there are the Others, who are fey (at least as far as I can tell). The Imnada and Others are engaged in an ancient blood feud which have forced the Imnada to live in secret. Mac Flannery and three fellow Imnada and soldiers in the British military are cursed by a dying Other, and are forced to shift every evening, as soon as night falls. As a result, they've been exiled from their people because they're considered tainted. It's a pretty crappy lifestyle and they've all dealt with it in the own ways. They come back together after one of their number, Adam, is murdered, and learn that Adam has found a cure for the curse. Mystery, danger, and romance ensue, in ways that really kept me interested.
There's also a really interesting subplot that revolves around the politics between the Imnada and Others. The Imnada have been in hiding for generations but there are some Imnada who want to reveal themselves and make a truce with the Others. It's a divisive topic and I really got into this plot line. I hope there's more of it in future novels in the series.
In terms of characters, things are less well done. I thought Bianca was an excellent heroine. She's smart, a bit battered by life but still plucky. I instantly empathized with her and really enjoyed how her story was revealed. I also liked Mac, though not as much as Bianca. He's a damaged guy with a ton of baggage, mostly having to do with being exiled. He deals with some of his problems over the course of the novel but some of this resolution felt a bit forced to me. Some of the supporting characters were also quite memorable but others were a bit murky. For example, I had some difficulty separating Mac fellow exiles from one another for a large part of the novel because they felt underdeveloped, though this was generally resolved towards the end as they accrued more page time. There are also some reveals about certain characters (who shall remain unnamed to avoid spoilers) that were big surprises, which I usually love. Except in this case, I felt like I'd missed out on a really good chunk of story, to the point where I started wondering if there was another novel before this one involving these characters. I also found the main baddy to be a bit flat. We're told her motivation, we're shown her bad deeds, but I didn't find her to be a compelling foe.
Despite my issues with some of the characters, I did enjoy DEMON'S CURSE and plan to try AWAKEN THE CURSE, an e-prequel that's available now. If you're looking for a Regency romance with a brave heroine and an interesting supernatural landscape, you should keep DEMON'S CURSE in mind.
P.S. If you'd like more info about the series, you should check out this awesome interview with Alexa Egon on Literary Escapism!