Death’s Hand by S. M. Reine
Series: The Descent #1
Source: Personal shelf
Elise Kavanagh doesn’t want to hunt demons anymore. It’s been five years since she killed her last enemy, and life has been quiet since then. She went to college. Got a job, and then lost it. Made a friend or two. Lived a normal life. Now her former partner, a powerful witch named James Faulkner, wants Elise to fight one more time. The daughter of a coven member has been possessed, and Elise is the only exorcist nearby.
Becoming a hero again would mean risking discovery by old enemies. But digging into the case reveals that it might already be too late–bodies are disappearing, demons slither through the night, and the cogs of apocalypse are beginning to turn once more. Some enemies aren’t willing to let the secrets of the past stay dead…
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I bought the first three books in this series on a whim because the bundle was $0.99 on Amazon.com. It sounded like an intriguing premise so I thought I’d give it a shot, though I have heard mixed things about it. I figured it was worth a shot at $0.33 per book. 🙂
I’ve come out of Death’s Hand with mixed feelings. I liked the kopis and apsis idea (Greek for sword and shield) — a team of a demon hunter and witch who fight pretty much everything evil. It’s a really neat idea and I wish it had been better explained in the novel. The kopis and apsis are linked in magical ways but we don’t get a lot of explanation about how they are paired together or how these relationships work for people other than Elise and James. It’s something I definitely hope to see explained in greater depth in subsequent novels because I think it’s a very unique aspect of S. M. Reine’s worldbuilding for this series.
I wasn’t as fond of the time jumping that happened between chapters. The book jumps between three main time periods across a decade: (1) when James (the apsis) first meets Elise (the kopis), (2) when Elise and James fight the death goddess, and (3) present day, which is 2009. They happen a lot and it was a bit too much jumping for me. I wouldn’t have minded as much if we could have lived in each period for a bit longer, though I do understand how this is a useful storytelling device since it allows the author to really trickle the information out without having to write long passages of exposition. That being said, I really enjoyed the content of each of the three time periods and was always ready to learn more about each of these moments in their lives.
And it’s because of this time jumping that we see just how horrible it was on Elise and James’ last mission, when they averted an apocalypse. It helps put their retirement into perspective and also shows how brave it is for them to return to the field, particularly in Elise’s case since she really suffered for that mission.
Another thing I really liked about this book is the lack of romance between Elise and James. I’m sure part of that is because James found Elise when she was still a young girl but I’m happy they didn’t blur the lines, despite feelings that may have popped up every once in a while. It makes Elise and James’ relationship more complicated on some levels but simpler on others, which makes for great reading. It also allows them to have other romantic interests, something that James is a bit better at than Elise.
Since I bought the bundle, I’l definitely be giving the rest of the books a shot. At $0.33 a story, it’s a good deal but, at the same time, Death’s Hand isn’t the best urban fantasy I’ve read lately. But it’s a solid start to a series and I’m curious to see where things go from here.