Tainted (Blood Lily Chronicles #1) by Julie Kenner
Lily Carlyle has never been a good girl. She’s lied, cheated and stolen, but she did it all to protect her younger sister. To keep food on the table after their mother died. She’d made a promise, after all. A promise to take care of her sister. To keep the family together. And that’s a promise she’s determined to keep.
Even to the death…
When her younger sister is brutally attacked, a vengeful Lily determines to exact her own justice on the monster responsible. She succeeds—at the cost of her own life. As she lies dying, she is given a second chance: though what she has done is evil, she can earn her way into Paradise by fighting for the forces of good.
…and wakes in the body of Alice Purdue—a Boston barmaid who has more than a little familiarity with the battle raging between the Light and the Darkness. Each side is mustering their forces for all-out war—and Lily is going to become an assassin for the Light.
It’s a job she believes she can really get into—but she doesn’t realize that she may not be able to get out…
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Tainted is the first book I’ve read by Julie Kenner, bought on a whim last year. It’s been sitting on my TBR pile for a while, along with the next book in the series, Torn, as I ploughed through a whole bunch of other stuff. Part of my hesitation was the cover. I had buyer’s remorse after I bought Tainted because Lily looks like a busty, slightly constipated pirate. Don’t get me wrong – the back of the book still made the story sound great but I’m greatly influenced by covers and so it took me a while to come around on this one. In the end, though, I found Tainted to be a pleasant diversion.
The premise of Tainted reminded me a lot of Kelly Meding‘s Dreg City books: bad-but-not-really-bad girl gets transferred to a sexy new body to right wrongs, fight evil, and meet smoking hot guys who probably have problems of their own. Nonetheless, I did get past this feeling rather quickly, since the protagonists are different enough and it’s been a while since I read As Lie the Dead. Lily is convincingly confused about her new life but adapts with relative ease to being Alice, even though Alice’s life keeps surprising her. It would have been fun to see her struggle a bit more but Alice was conveniently not very social so there wasn’t an overwhelming amount for Lily to put together. Harder for her was the training to kill demons and the need to stay away from her old life.
The plot of Tainted follows a fairly predictable path. Lily fights to reconcile her new life with her old, to master her new gifts, and to figure out who ended Alice’s life. She also has to stop demons from opening the Ninth Gate to Hell. It’s all pretty straightforward until the end of the book, when some great game-changing revelations pop up, kind of out of nowhere. It was nice to be surprised at this point and I’m happy with what happened because it’s made me curious about Torn.
Overall, I’d have to evaluate Tainted as decent but not extraordinary. I liked it and will definitely read Torn in the near future because of the aforementioned surprise twists and I need to know what’s going to happen to Lily and Deacon (her love interest with issues).