The Devil You Know by K.H. Koehler
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I wanted to like this book, but there were too many small issues to tolerate.
+ the hero
The only noteworthy thing about Nick was that he was bi. Other than that, he was a stereotypical Urban Fantasy protagonist. He has a destiny he doesn’t want to face, a power he doesn’t practice to attain mastery, and a tendency to jump into trouble without preparation.
I had a hard time believing the character was an ex-cop, a psychic detective, and a prince of Hell. He frequently let the bad guys get the upper hand. He solved mysteries slowly and often late so shit was already happening, and he’s scrambling to save himself and others. He pissed off his allies and physically hurt his best friend when she warned him against Vivian. Worst of all, he allowed himself to be seduced by Vivian.
+ the romantic interest
The biggest issue I had with the book was Vivian. I didn’t like it when she was introduced as a damsel in distress, and I outright hated her when she developed into a femme fatale. She wasn’t entirely unpitiable, but 97% of the time, it was all “Nick, save me,” “Nick, fuck me,” “Nick teach me magic so that I may later use it for evil purposes in future books.” Nick wasn’t Vivian’s white knight; he was her stooge.
+ the beginning
The beginning would have better off starting at chapter 3. Chapter 1 tried to parody a mystery novel; the first line was “Like a bad detective novel, it started with a woman.” But it quickly felt flat and became the cliche it was parodying. Go figure.
Worse, when Nick told Vivian about magic being real stuff, trying to do that hide-in-plain-sight, tongue-in-cheek thing, he came off as creepy and an incredibly obvious mouthpiece for info-dumping worldbuilding.
On another issue, Nick didn’t ping Vivian as part daemon immediately, yet it was told multiple times how he had an above-average radar of sensing the supernatural. Either Nick was deluding himself which I don’t think is the case or the story contradicted itself which I think is the case.
+ the middle
The middle dragged. Many seemingly unrelated things were happening, and I doubted their relevancy to the plot multiple times. I felt that Nick should strongly reconsider his priorities and focus on helping the people he could actually help instead of taking every case that entered his door.
The sex scene was unexpected and admittedly hot but nevertheless I didn’t like it because it was with Vivian. Any scene with Vivian had me going red. She was a like a fly I couldn’t waved away.
+ the ending
The ending was fast-paced but done in a clunky manner. I didn’t like how Malach and Nick buddied up like cops to confront the bad guys. It discredited the multiple tellings of the mutual, supposedly sustaining enmity that was established for the reader in the beginning of the story.
On the bright side, the conflict was nicely wrapped up, and I liked the foreshadowing of a war between Heaven and Hell where the lines between evil and good are super blurry. In spite of the incohesiveness, all the little plotlines that I thought that were irrelevant were finally given relevance.
I rate The Devil You Know 2-stars for it was okay. Nick needed a cold slap to common sense, and Vivian needed to fuck off. The pacing was uneven, and the story had many unignorable inconsistencies. Still, the series has potential, and I do sincerely look forward to the sequel.
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