Starts out very strong, stumbles a bit in the middle and then about 65% til the end gets very strong again.
Dagan Krayl is a half-human, half god. He is also a soul reaper. It is a very special sort of job where he passes judgement on, and sucks the soul out of, some of the most heinous evil doers and feeds them to his father, the God Sutekh. His father rules the underworld and the souls of the evil is like a delicacy to him.
Dagan is having a typical day on the job, manually ripping the heart out of a raping murderer when he happens upon the latest victim-to-be of said raper/murderer.
Roxy Tam is a young woman who was orphaned at a very young age and came up through the foster system. As a result she is somewhat vulnerable and trusts the wrong people, as evidenced by the fact that she is tied up in a basement ready to be raped and murdered when she and Dagan first meet. During the course of that meeting, Roxy is confronted with things that she'd never in a million years thought possible as she witnesses Dagan doing his thing. For his part Dagan is also very drawn to the human woman. It is a memorable meeting and neither comes from it unscathed. Yet Dagan disappears, leaving Roxy to live what he hopes will be a normal, more careful life.
Eleven years later, the underworld is in chaos and on the edge of all out war between all the deities. One of Dagan's brothers has been killed. This should not be possible, but it is true. In his quest to find the killer Dagan crosses paths with Roxy again. Eleven years has wrought major changes in Roxy. No longer is she the wide eyed teenager. Now she is a member of the Asetan Guard, a warrior sect devoted to the goddess Aset, a goddess who is (im)mortal enemies with Dagan's own father. She is also on the trail of the killer. The meet again but this time they aren't able to just go their separate ways.
As I was reading the more difficult-to-be-interested-in middle parts of the book, I was sure that I'd force myself to finish it and that would be it. This is not a stand-alone, the mystery element of the murderer does not end in this book. And since this is a (so far) 4-part series I am thinking it won't end til around the 4th book or so. So while the mystery is intriguing and it would be great to know who the killer is, I wasn't invested enough, at that point, to really want to follow through. But then book picked up steam and ended excitingly enough that now I actually do want to read the follow up book.
The beginning was excellent. The set up with Roxy in the basement knowing she is about to die, Dagan in all his glowy golden sexiness appearing there to rip out her murderer's heart, and the whole scene with how he deals with the people who were about the kill Roxy was an awesome hook.
Unfortunately the book falters almost immediately after. I did really enjoy the mythos. It felt different from all other paranormal books that use gods as part of their world-building. For one thing, it focused primarily on the Egyptian pantheon of gods and goddesses and that is rare in paranormal/UF. Another thing, that i found pretty cool actually, is that in this world, All
gods and goddesses exist. I dig the logic is that since there is not just one theology present in the world that they all get represented here as well. So in this book, all the the gods of the underworld share the underworld. When their particular worshipers die, then it is to that area of the underworld/afterlife they go. So Satan, Hel, Hades and various other 'afterlife' type deities get various shout-outs. There is even a big conference of the after-lifers so they can all talk about the egregious murder of Sutekh's son.
But like I mentioned earlier, the point after the intro begins a section where Dagan and Roxy are both separately doing their thing and it reads as somewhat muddled. Dagan we know is looking for his brother's killer. It is Roxy's areas that seem all over the place. We find out some interesting things about her and her abilities. But the writing is choppy and many things seem way to oblique. Scenes seem to shift without any real transition. I put the book down several times and actually read and finished about three four other books in the meantime.
But I brought myself back to finish. And then at around the 60-70% point, Roxy and Dagan actually talk for real and in the course of that conversation finally admit they have a thing for each other and then BAM! the book takes off. Threads come together, a lot of the oblique stuff is brought into sharper focus, some things are explained to clarity and the ending is as exciting and interesting as the beginning was.
So yeah, I think I'll be following up with the second book.