Monday, January 30, 2012

Review of Nadia Lee's The Last Slayer

Title: The Last Slayer
Author: Nadia Lee
Publisher: Carina Press
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Publication Date: December 26, 2011
Rating: 4 out of 5

Nadia Lee’s The Last Slayer is a fun novel in a new Urban Fantasy series that leans more towards the Fantasy side of UF. I had a hard time rating this book at first, because I really loved it, but I felt there were a few issues. That said, Ashera del Cid, the eponymous last slayer, is a likeable heroine with a mysterious past, and the world she inhabits will draw you in from the first page.

When the book begins, Ashera del Cid is a very homely demon hunter, killing succubi and incubi who attack humans in their dreams. Ashera was abandoned as a baby and was passed from foster home to foster home until she was rescued by Jack, her current boss and foster father. His daughter Valerie (who’s a real looker) is Ashera’s best friend, and from the beginning Ashera makes it clear that she’s the best demon hunter employed by Jack and has no regrets about not being as beautiful as Valerie.

Ashera’s life suddenly takes a turn for the worst on her birthday when she’s tricked by a succubus and “marked”, then attacked by wyrms. None of this makes sense to her, and when the dragonlord Ramiel appears and tells her that he’s sworn to protect her, she’s even more confused. Ramiel escorts Ashera to another dimension, and she has to learn to defend herself from other dragonlords while fighting a sizzling attraction to Ramiel as well.

There were so many things to love about this book. First, Ashera is a terrific new urban fantasy heroine, very kickass and extremely capable. She faces several formidable enemies, undergoes a dramatic transformation, and learns just enough about her past to drive a weaker woman nuts. Even though it’s mentioned early on in the novel that Ashera is ugly, I actually forgot until reminded later in the book, because I was so intrigued by her story.

Second, I absolutely loved the world building in The Last Slayer. It was creative and fascinating, and we learn just enough about the culture surrounding the dragons and the dragonlords that our interest is piqued without the information becoming overwhelming. My favorite has to be the little household wyrm, Toshi - very funny! I also like that we learn about this new world through Ashera’s experience. While this leaves us with a lot of questions at the end of the book, the story arc in this novel is resolved.  

My main quibble is with the character of Ramiel. The chemistry between the hero and heroine is smoldering, but I was never fully convinced of Ramiel’s interest in Ashera. The two spend some time together, but there are some serious trust issues between them, mainly because Ramiel seems determined not to tell Ashera things she needs to know. Also, part of her transformation leads to Ashera’s questioning Ramiel’s interest in her, with good reason.

Overall, this was a great first book in the series! I had a hard time putting it down, and that’s always a big plus. I definitely recommend this one, especially if you’re a fan of fantasy.

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