I talked about this book in a recent CBR Diversion, saying that I hoped I would get it for Christmas. My CBR Fairy Bookmother decided she couldn’t wait until then to see what I thought, so she sent it to me (thank yooooouuu!).
This book was half delightful, half mystifying, and wholly my fault for not doing more digging. I fell for the title and the blurb, but didn’t put it together that ‘urban fantasy’ often means (gasp, ew!) romance. Spoilers ahoy!
Sandy is a hairdresser with a rowdy toddler, a scary disapproving religious mother, and an asshole of a husband who has taken weaponized incompetence to a whole new level. She’s also pregnant and exhausted, and at the end of her rope. When she’s taken over by a vengeance demon who (justifiably) wants to eat worthless Terry, she resists husbandicide. But after a horrible day at work, the husband dumping the kid at the salon so he can go fishing, and a bleeding collapse where her boss doesn’t call the hospital for an hour that results in a miscarriage, after which Terry doesn’t even come visit her, she invites the demon back in.
In no time at all, Sandy’s two best friends have whisked her and her kid away to the city, gotten her an apartment in her rich aunt’s building, found her long-lost brother, and gotten her a job in a swanky salon. Except with Mavka the demon now along for the ride, Sandy can See things. The werewolf bartender. The vampire who runs the restaurant across the street. Her aunt is a witch. And Mavka wants to eat every scumbag male who crosses their path.
Mavka is the best part. She says things like “I will eat your spleen on a bed of parsley!” She can sense bad intentions and bad deeds, and when Sandy lets her take over, they can kick all sorts of ass.
But then Sandy sees this dreamy detective and the whole book goes sideways. She left her asshole husband a day and a half ago! She’s eviscerating sex traffickers in gas station bathrooms! And all of a sudden she’s putting on her red va-va-voom dress and heels to go talk to a detective about bad guys? Then it became such a stereotypical romance, with him growling authoritatively and her being all swoony, and it didn’t work for me. I was totally on Mavka’s side. Men are the enemy! Why are we flirting? There’s also a side plot with one of Sandy’s best friends being blackmailed by someone sending her her own nude pictures and threatening to release them, and Sandy using Mavka’s powers to track down the culprit. So we get several other slimeball men to root against. To make the detective look even better, maybe? Not a lot of shades of gray in this book.
All in all, it was a very fun read. Sandy rolls with the punches admirably well, and the vengeance demon is a hoot. I just foolishly didn’t see the romance coming, and it was a record scratch moment for me. Yes, I want Sandy to be happy, I suppose. But I want Mavka to be happy MORE.
“We all have our demons. I’m just…making friends with mine.”