Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Devil's Paw (Imp #4) by Debra Dunbar

Having defeated her nemesis in hell, Sam is hoping to settle into a normal life (well normal of an imp living on earth anyway) by throwing her boyfriend Wyatt a birthday party.  Sam doesn't get to enjoy the good life for long because Gregory shows up with the head of yet another demon which has been drained of its energy.  The situation escalates when an angel is also found drained.  Sam is a devouring demon and therefore not only very rare but potentially a suspect.  In order to avoid being blamed for the death of an angel, Sam and Gregory must hunt down the real killer quickly.

I love the Imp series but Devil's Paw did have a problem with over description.  At times it did effect the pacing of the book.  Dunbar really went over the top describing the interior of a home which Sam was investigating and I found my eyes sliding from the page.  It's the first time that I have been forced to skim read any section of this series.   Though Sam and Gregory were working together to solve the mystery of drained and dead demons and an angel, it really didn't make sense to me that Sam continued to withhold information from Gregory.  Sam is a smart protagonist and she essentially fridged her largest weapon, by not informing Gregory,  given that the Iblis sword isn't the most reliable weapon.  Clearly this is a set up to have Sam get captured and forced into a position of asking Gregory to sever the bond.  I can see that it makes sense from a big picture scenario but felt that in context of the story, it didn't work.

In many ways, Sam has changed so much from the demon we met in A Demon Bound. Sure, Sam is not above creating interesting piercings to disturb the TSA, provoking Gregory every chance she gets, or eating raw seal, but when it really counts, Sam cares deeply about those she claims as hers.  Wyatt's sister was changed with a channgling at birth and for his birthday, Sam decides to rectify the situation by arranging to buy Nyalla, his biological sister from the elves.  Sam even advises Amber, the demon/elf hybrid to wait to have sex which is totally against her imp instincts but in the best interests of Amber.

Perhaps one of the largest indicators of how Sam has changed, is her willingness to add demons to her household when Baphomet and Raim are killed.  When Sam is captured, she struggles desperately to try and save Stab, a low level demon.   The scenes between these two are absolutely touching. In her attempt to save Stab, Sam becomes so much more than the trouble loving Imp - she becomes a hero.

Devil's Paw introduces us to Nyalla but there isn't much interaction with Sam's friends because she is off on a demon hunt with Gregory for the majority of the book.  As much as I love each and every single interaction Sam has with Gregory, I think we see her at her most changed when she is interacting with the humans Sam has declared hers.  That being said, things are heating up between Gregory and Sam and I for one am so excited about this, as much as I love her relationship with Wyatt.  Sam maybe the cockroach to Gregory but it's clear that things are heating up between them. When Sam is attacked by a rogue mage, Gregory hunts him down and kills him.  Even though Gregory is determined to reform Sam, to the point where he uses the favors he has accumulated from her to force her into giving up some of the souls she Owns, he is so drawn to her that he cannot help kissing her and reaching out to her with his spirit. Okay, so I squeed but it's truly squee worthy I swear.

Unfortunately, with Michelle and Leethu not having much to do with Devil's Paw, the presence of people of colour in this book is scant to say the least.  We learn that Sam used to have a great relationship with the demon Baphomet but they grew apart over the years as Sam started taking on more human traits and Baphomet stayed true to the demon he is.  Everything we learn about Baphomet is in the past because Sam spends the book investigating his death.  Sam does manage to get Baphomet justice but it doesn't make up for the lack of people of colour in this book, particularly because a large part of Devil's Paw is set in Alaska, where there is a large indigenous population.

Sam continues to be the bisexual protagonist who has no romantic entanglements with women at all. In Devil's Paw, there isn't even a reference to her being attracted to women in large part because she is caught up with the investigation and her changing relationship with Gregory. Given that Sam doesn't really believe in monogamy, I don't understand why this continues to be the case.

I love the Imp series and have been reading these books in one sitting.  They are laugh out loud funny, filled with depth of emotion and the world continues to grow in marvelous ways. I love that angels can get drunk on sweet and sour sauce and adore Sam's antics when she lets her Imp side run free.  Sam continues to evolve and with each new book, she's clearly becoming something new.  Now that Sam has had her bond to Gregory broken, I want to know where this story is going.  How will this change her relationships?  Will she continue to grow as the Iblis?  Quite simply, I want more.