Saturday, September 27, 2014

Tea Time: Servants of the Storm

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**

Servants of the Storm, Delilah S. Dawson

A year ago Hurricane Josephine swept through Savannah, Georgia, leaving behind nothing but death and destruction — and taking the life of Dovey's best friend, Carly. Since that night, Dovey has been in a medicated haze, numb to everything around her. 

But recently she's started to believe she's seeing things that can't be real ... including Carly at their favorite cafe. Determined to learn the truth, Dovey stops taking her pills. And the world that opens up to her is unlike anything she could have imagined. 

As Dovey slips deeper into the shadowy corners of Savannah — where the dark and horrifying secrets lurk — she learns that the storm that destroyed her city and stole her friend was much more than a force of nature. And now the sinister beings truly responsible are out to finish what they started. 
Dovey's running out of time and torn between two paths. Will she trust her childhood friend Baker, who can't see the threatening darkness but promises to never give up on Dovey and Carly? Or will she plot with the sexy stranger, Isaac, who offers all the answers — for a price? Soon Dovey realizes that the danger closing in has little to do with Carly ... and everything to do with Dovey herself. (source:goodreads)

Cover-Can you believe that creep-tastic cover? Look at how gorgeous and twisted it is. Like, it's almost literally twisted: no girl can stand like that without falling over because of a little thing called gravity, so you know that something seriously sinister is happening, here. Also: the dress makes the girl look...well, girly, and in horror novels that equates into something also seriously sinister.

Ergo: this cover gives me chills. I can't lie: it's one of my favorite covers that I've seen recently, and every time I noticed it somewhere on social media I wanted my own copy for the sole reason of being able to stare at it and appreciate how awesome it looks.

Narrative-SERVANTS (I'm abbreviating) is told in the first person POV from the perspective of the admirably spunky Dovey.  Spunky is just one word I can use to describe the way her personality comes out in this writing, and colorful is another. Dawson managed to do an amazing job in really using the language in her narrative to put the reader in the character's head. It's so southern I could hear the accent in my head as I read along; that same accent was amazingly clear from the first page, when it can typically take a chapter or two for me to really latch on to a particular speech pattern.

And if I say any more I really think I'll accidentally spread over into the character portion of this review, but something else I have to say: the description, too, is fantastic. I hope I'm not spoiling anything when I say that there's a portion of the novel where Dovey is drugged to forget about an event that just happened (an event that's fully described in the narrative), and by the end of the scene even I felt like it was all just a dream. Being able to use language in such a life-like way is a talent I would kill for. Definitely worth the read just for the narrative style, itself.

Plot-The first thing I need to get out of my system about this plot? It kept me up at night. Yep, I said it. There was one night in particular when I said, "Okay, Rae, you can read one more chapter." So I read that chapter, then laid awake long enough to realize that there was no way I'd sleep without nightmares so I picked up the book, again, and waited until a scene ended on a high-ish note.

To sum it up sans-spoilers (well, hopefully): Hurricane Josephine isn't a storm, it's one powerful demon. She takes over the south and basically everyone who died was turned into a servant, forced into demonic servitude for all eternity. Dovey finds this out when she sees her dead best friend, Carly, and embarks on a mission with a ruggedly handsome cambion Isaac to save not only Carly's soul, but hers and Isaac's, and the souls of everyone in town.

This book rocks.

Part of the reason is because Dawson uses cambions, a strange and special and really cool type of demon from old folklore. The reason I love this so much is because once upon a time little high-schooler Rae was actually researching cambions for one of her own writing endeavors, and it's kind of rare to come across someone who's heard of them before. So major brownie points, there.

But I also just love how creepy and original this felt. As already mentioned, Dawson's use of language dropped me right in the middle of the south, and using Dovey's voice the setting was extremely real to me. But I also loved how contemporary the demons were (using drugs to control humans, for example) and the whole "hell no there's no happy ending yet" feel to the whole thing. It was absolutely horrific and it speaks to the part of me that's always loved a good horror novel; it's not often that I find one that's actually worthy of making my skin crawl.

Admittedly, there were a few moments or details that made me slightly cringe. These instances shot me out of the suspense of the book like I was on a slingshot, and it was more because they seemed a bit...ridiculous? I think that's the word I'm looking for. The major one was that, to become a servant to a demon, the demon bit off your pinky finger and as long as they had that piece of your pinky finger, you were there. I eventually accepted it, worked through it, the whole nine yards, but for some reason that took a bit of the dire seriousness out of the plot and I still have no idea why.

Also; there's a huge bombshell about who-or what-Dovey really is. And it was so extremely sudden that I felt like it could have used a better lead-up before bam the reader and Dovey both find out. Then Dovey accepted it really quickly. Given the circumstances, I can kind of understand it, but then again it should have still  been a very large rock to swallow so I'm still not quite sure how I feel about it.

Okay, one more thing: love triangle. There's a love triangle. It doesn't take up too much of the overall plot, but I feel like it's something I should mention in case any of ya'll just love or insanely hate them. Me? It always depends on how it's done, and I'm still admittedly on the fence about this one.

But yeah. Creepy, horrific, and it'll definitely keep you up at night as long as you can get past a few of the the more ridiculous carnival-esque pieces of it.

Characters-I think there are...four characters worth bringing up. *mentally counts* Yep, four that I think are worth talking about due to their prominence within the plot.

The first, obviously, is Dovey. As already mentioned she's a spitfire, full of sarcasm and things that probably shouldn't be said out loud if you want to keep your teeth in your mouth. Being Dovey, she gets away with it and I love her for that. Inquisitive and willing to take risks, and she's loyal to a fault; the moment she even gets a whiff of Carly a year after her death in the hurricane, she destroys her pills that she's been on and begins to try and solve the mystery of what the heck happened to her best friend. Just as much as I loved her personality, I also loved her voice; like I said way up at the top of this thing, her accent and colorful speech made the plot come alive. A few times I kind of rolled my eyes, though; she was smitten with Isaac really fast, and I kind of cringe when that kind of thing happens. Then again,  Isaac has magical powers that make other people smitten with him. So it kind of makes sense. Sort of?

On to Isaac: he's sort of simple. A demon with a clock ticking, and when it runs down he's going to have to make a choice about the rest of his life, and the existence of his soul for all eternity. He's smart and mysterious, and has major connections, and he's secretly plotting to kill the demon woman, Kitty, who he has an extremely complicated relationship with. And he's a bartender. And he's got wickedly gorgeous eyes. (Okay, maybe I'm smitten with him, too).

Kitty. The demon woman wreaking havoc on Dovey's life, friends, family, and home. She's totally evil, and I totally love her for that because heartless demons with a good sense of style and power are probably one of my favorite things ever. And not only is she creating her very own army of loyal servants, she's going to try and start a war against Josephine, herself, and while you don't technically get to meet Josephine the only thing you need to know is that she's got immense power and Kitty's like a cockroach. But Kitty's got ambition and she controls how Dovey's going to spend eternity. So she's got a pretty good shot.

Last is Baker. Sweet, brave, and stupid Baker. I've got to give the kid credit for doing the things he does: he can't see all the demonic things happening around him, so he kind of lets Dovey lead him around blind (there's this scene with an amusement park and after Baker got home I really hope he questioned his life decisions at least a little bit). Then again, he's got reasons: he's a loyal friend to Dovey (and wishes for something more) and he was also a friend to Carly; basically, if Dovey's going on a demon hunt to set their dead best friend free, he doesn't want to get left behind. I did feel like there was a bit of desperation behind him, though, and I'm not quite sure that helped his image too much. Ultimately, I thought he was a sweet kid but was way too obviously out of his league, and in some instances he was a bit more of a naive hindrance than anything else.

One thing I've got to give to each of these characters: they were all fairly believable and realistic, which is definitely something to strive for.

Final Answer: 4.25 / 5

With SERVANTS, there were definitely some instances that I think the author could have made a different choice. But ultimately it was an enjoyable read, suspenseful, and I'm a sucker for a really creep-tastic plot that keeps me up at nights, so I'm sold. And I really hope there's a sequel out there somewhere because that ending kind of killed me.

Tweet It:

One word to describe SERVANTS OF THE STORM @DelilahSDawson? Creep-tastic. (Click to Tweet)

SERVANTS OF THE STORM @DelilahSDawson earns 4.25 / 5 stars from @Rae_Slater. Read the review. (Click to Tweet)

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