The Demon Trapper’s Daughter (titled Forsaken in the UK) is set in Atlanta, 2018. It’s not precisely a post-apocalyptic setting, but it’s a depressed one, with economic woes plaguing much of the population and demons living openly among humans. These aren’t angsty, misunderstood demons either, but fiends from Hell; the small ones are nuisances and the big ones are deadly.
Seventeen-year-old Riley Blackthorne is an apprentice demon trapper. Her father is himself a prominent trapper, which causes trouble for Riley on two fronts. Other trappers think she’s trying to coast by on his name, and the demons hold grudges and would love to have a shot at Paul Blackthorne’s daughter.
The book begins with what’s supposed to be an easy mission; Riley is assigned to trap a Biblio-Fiend, a low-level demon whose mayhem is limited to damaging books. Everything goes wrong, though, and this becomes the first indication that the demons aren’t acting in the usual way. Demons always prowled alone, but now they’re teaming up with other demons to pose a greater threat. Adding to the danger, the trappers’ supply of Holy Water isn’t working as well as it’s supposed to. Trapping just became much more dangerous, and soon Riley has a family tragedy to deal with.
The Demon Trapper’s Daughter is a grimmer book than you might be expecting. There’s a heartbreaking death, followed by grueling efforts to keep necromancers from stealing the body from the grave. And that’s not to even mention the other destruction dished out by the demons…
Riley is an engaging heroine. She’s in a stormy mood for most of the book, but she has plenty of reasons for that. She’s stubborn, and sometimes too brave for her own good. She’s exactly what a spirited “everygirl” might be if placed in such a difficult situation. The other point-of-view character, Denver Beck, is harder to get a grip on. At times he’s a great hero who’d do anything for Riley. Other times he comes off as a bit of a pig; it’s hard for me to like a character when he spends part of his first scene catcalling girls on the street. His dialogue is also written in a distracting accent. Despite a five-year age difference, I suspect he’s being set up as Riley’s eventual love interest (though she dates someone else in this installment).
The plot is filled with tension and sadness, and occasionally a touch of humor. It’s mainly driven by the mystery of the strange demon behavior and by Riley’s everyday struggles to get by on a limited income and survive in the face of dangers. Riley has to worry about things like bills and replacing demon-damaged clothing, which lends a welcome dose of realism to the story.
If you’re looking for an action-filled YA urban fantasy, and want to read about a young girl in the process of becoming a butt-kicking heroine, The Demon Trapper’s Daughter may be just what you’re looking for. I look forward to future Demon Trapper novels.