Bite Me (Demon Underground #1) by Parker Blue
I got the Demon Underground series e-books as a three-pack courtesy of Bell Bridge Books and netGalley so I have to start this post off by acknowledging them both. Many thanks! I should also point out what you’ve probably already observed: this post is formatted differently than usual. I’m experimenting with my posting format so please let me know what you think in the comments section! I love getting feedback (good or bad) about the site.
I’m going to talk about the first book, Bite Me, today, and have scheduled posts about the next two books, Try Me and Fang Me, to appear tomorrow and the day after. I had it all written up as one massive post but it seemed like it might be a bit too much to digest so I’m splitting up my thoughts.
Eighteen-year-old Valentine Shapiro got a raw deal in the parent lottery. Her father was part incubus demon, and her mother’s never forgiven her for that. Thrown out of the house by her mother, Val does the only thing that seems to make any sense—she takes aim at the town vampires. A stake a day keeps the demon at bay. Soon enough, she finds herself deep in the underbelly of the city, discovering the secrets of the Demon Underground with the help of her faithful hellhound, Fang, and fighting to save those she loves. Whether they love her back or not.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
This book is being marketed as a YA novel, which I find a bit weird given that Val is part succubus and that her exploration of her powers (and control over her demon side, which she calls Lola) is a key part of the story. Granted, there’s no sex in Bite Me but the fact that the heroine is part succubus and that she regularly goes to a strip club to meet her incubus relative doesn’t seem super YA to me. Having a succubus as the main character in a novel seems like a dicey proposition for an author trying to navigate the YA world to me but, to her credit, Parker Blue has done a good job of keeping things pretty PG.
Once I got past this little quandary, though, I felt free to immerse myself in Val’s world. Parker Blue does a great job of describing San Antonio, a town I was lucky enough to visit last year for a conference. The parts of her story set in the River Walk made me feel like I was back there.
The author has also managed to create an engaging protagonist in Val. I love how scrappy she is and how realistic her reactions are when she’s booted out of her family’s home and forced to fend for herself, all of a sudden, just as she turns 18. I also love Fang, her part-hellhound sidekick, who’s absolutely adorable. Parker Blue’s descriptions of him made me want to squee, they were so cute. I also enjoyed the telepathic relationship that Fang and Val share. Val’s other partner in crime, Dan, is not quite as much fun. His backstory is somewhat explained but I still don’t feel like I know him, at least not as well as Val and Fang. This is probably due, at least partially, to the fact that Bite Me is told from Val’s point of view, in first person.
Plot-wise, Bite Me is great. Val has a bunch of problems on her hands, all centering around vampires, and there are some nice twists and turns, and a mystery of sorts revolving around her sister Jennifer. I don’t want to say too, too much about this part of the book since it would ruin it for new readers but I will say I found the main story arc to be quite satisfying and I was very happy that Bell Bridge included all three books in the package they put on netGalley.
One thing I’m not too sure about is the constant references to Buffy in the book. The first time it came up, I thought it was fun but I liked it less and less as it came up over the course of the story. I’m not really sure why this bothers me since I’m a huge Buffy fan but there you have it. (Maybe because it’s the easy, obvious comparison?) It’s such a tiny quibble but one that I felt compelled to type out.
Look for my post on Try Me tomorrow! Same bat time, same bat channel.