Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Elven Blood (Imp #3) by Debra Dunbar

Having been chosen by an ancient artifact, Sam is now the Iblis, or in other words Ha-satan.  This is a role that no one in hell wants, including Sam, causing her to wonder if her infamous lucky streak is now at an end.  Unfortunately for Sam, this means that she now has to meet with angels as a member of the angel counsel and as luck or in her case bad luck would have it, this means copious amounts of paperwork, something the trouble loving imp is not the least bit fond of. To make matters worse, there is a demon who has placed a bounty on her head and the elves want her to track down an elf/demon hybrid.  With all of the juggling Sam has to do, will Sam ever manage to finish the requisite forms before Gregory has to punish her?

If you haven't guessed it by now, I am a huge fan of this series.  It's laugh out loud funny and the characters feel extremely real to me.  I love that Sam tortures her Elf escorts by singing sappy love songs, saving Air Supply for her ultimate weapon of choice, after hearing that their music would cause people to void their bowels. Sam has grown so much from the first book in the series from an Imp who makes everyone claim hot wings and throws gum on the floor hoping that it will stick to people shoes, to a demon who has begun to pick up on human morality.  At one time, Sam would have thought nothing about killing and Owning another being but after considering how she would feel if one of her humans were to meet the same fate, Sam actively starts to rethink her position. Being an Imp, some of her change of heart is still about avoiding the paperwork that comes with each kill.

As an imp, Sam's typical modus operandi is to duck and run.  Being the Iblis, she is quickly learning that this is not a tactic that she can take any longer. Just as Wyatt challenges Sam to think about morality in a more human way, Gregory pushes Sam to accept her role as the Iblis, grow her power and throw up a mighty defense against those who seek to kill her.  It is only when Sam faces Haagenti, instead of running that she gets a true sense of herself.  Demons, Elves, and Angels, most certainly don't respect Sam or her potential, so the only way for Sam to survive is to beat them all at their own game.  For Sam that mean beating Haagenti, using angel logic against Gregory and displaying her power while threatening the Elves.

The Sam/Wyatt/ Gregory love triangle is continuing to grow.  Gone is the hesitant Sam who struggled to label how she felt about Wyatt.  Sam now acknowledges that she is probably the only demon to experience love and is desperate to hold onto to it no matter what.  Then there is the issue of Gregory. Sure, angel fucking feels great, and Gregory is a wonderful mentor but her feelings for him are starting to become confusing.  Clearly there is something building between Sam and Gregory and unfortunately, Gregory and Wyatt cannot stand each other.  So far Sam hasn't had to choose but clearly the day is coming.  I particularly loved the scene with Sam leaving to do battle in hell and her bittersweet goodbye to Wyatt in case she is killed.  It is a moment of great tenderness.

Unfortunately, we see far less of Michelle and Cathy this book.  Michelle basically appeared for the purposes of woo woo. It seems that her family is from Haiti and her aunt is a priestess.  Naturally, this is who Sam turns to have to have a barrier erected around Wyatt's home to keep him safe from demons attempting to kill him because he is her favorite human. Mining cultures of colour for woo woo is simply not cool.

Though we lose Michelle and Cathy, Dubar decided to give more page time to Sam's step sister, the succubus Leethu, whose favorite form is an Asian woman. Leethu is bisexual but seems only to have sex with women when she is in a male form.  For most of Elven Blood, Leethu is bored because she is hiding out at Sam's.  Leethu's only distraction is a series of pizza delivery boys whom she has sex with multiple times. I do enjoy the idea of a woman having sex without feeling guilt and shame but I cannot help but wonder why Leethu, who is bisexual never once has sex with a woman and only briefly brings up an attraction to Michelle's aunt? It's worth pointing out that this is yet another book where Sam does not engage in sex with Leethu.  I assume Sam's reason stands from Satan's Sword in which she claimed that Leethu is to fragile for demon sex.  This however does not explain how Sam manages to have sex with Wyatt, who is human without hurting him and Leethu manages to have sex with Dar - another demon.  At this point, I am starting to believe that these characters are bisexual in name only.

Then we have the issue of Amber, the elf/demon hybrid who claims to be heterosexual honest but still asks what Leethu looks like.  Yes, this could very well be Leethu throwing out hormones to build Amber's attraction but it's still problematic.

Leethu also only has an "Asian accent" when she wants something.  Reading that, I wondered if Dunbar has any idea exactly how large Asia is?  Leethu also has an "enigmatic Asian smile" and is absolutely devious. Yes, the tropes are building up.  I really wanted to like this character but it seems that all she did was scream when Gregory showed up, cower, and have sex.  Of all the characters of colour in this series, Leethu has the most time and I find her to be extremely disappointing.

I continue to be intrigued with the Imp series.  It alternates between moments of hilarity and tenderness.  Sam continues to grow as a protagonist and I cannot wait to see how she evolves.  Though the world Dunbar has created is extremely vast, she has taken care to introduce us slowly, as she connects all of the supernatural characters and cultures.  Thus far, each book in the Imp series is a page turner - the kind of book that you promise to put down after one last chapter and just keep barreling forward.  I truly love this story and even though Elven Blood had some problems in terms of its marginalized characters, I loved every minute of it.