Coming in at 188 pages, Torn is a very short book that somehow still manages to feel extremely long. When we last left Lily, she had discovered that rather than working on the side of the good, she had actually been tricked into opening the 9th gate. If that were the only problem with being fooled that would be bad enough, but her sister Rose's body has been invaded by a demon. Johnson makes it clear that he the price of Rose's freedom is the Oris Clef - the key which throws open all of the gates to hell. Unfortunately another demon faction also wants the key. Deacon Camphire the demon who Lily feels inextricably attracted to wants her to abandon the search for the Oris Clef in favour of finding the one key that will lock all the doors. At stake for him, is the possibility of redemption.
The only thing Lily knows for sure is that she must find a way to save Rose. This is her mantra repeatedly and yet she seems to be quite willing to palm Rose off on others. She feels the urge to hunt a demon, she dumps Rose. She has a mission to go on to retrieve part of the key, she dumps Rose. It's easy to see why Deacon could suggest that maybe Rose is disposable after all.
Lily moves from one location to another attempting to gather the pieces of the key but the archangel Gabriel is stalker her. At first, she assumes that he is a demon because of the tattoos on his face but Deacon explains that he is heaven's warrior. Can Lily save her sister, and stop the gates from being opened -does she even want to?
In the first book of this series, there was a lot of world building that was absent in this story. Unfortunately, without this world building, all that is challenging about this story is erased. One of the prominent challenges in was classism. Though the story itself was not original, I enjoyed the fact that Kenner went of her way to detail how one's class location greatly effects one's life chances. Considerin that this story is extremely erased - no characters of colour, no disabled and no GLBT characters the focus on class at least added a real world element. It was further intriguing because class based issues are something that rarely gets discussing in this genre, making it one of the best things about Tainted. When Kenner stopped discussing class, she effectively got rid of the best thing about this series. Now there is absolutely nothing to differentiate it from all of the other books in this genre.
- Loss of control around hot guy - check
- feeling sexually aroused but blaming magic - check
- no female equal - check
- dead parents - check
- ass kicking protagonist - check
- complete erasure of historically maginalized people - check
In short, Torn is a very disappointing return to what had started off as a great series. Reproducing that which has been done time and time again is neither original or interesting. I think what saddens me the most, is that Kenner is clearly better than this.