Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: Love it
Three hundred years ago, she sold her soul to a demon. Now she wants it back.
For centuries, the woman calling herself Maliha Crayne has lived a second life - as an assassin for the malevolent creature who owns her soul. A haunted killer with the blood of countless victims on her hands, she has finally discovered a way to nullify the demonic pact that chains her: If she saves a life for every one she has taken, she will be free.
But if she fails, her punishments will be unspeakable, unendurable . . . and neverending.
300 years ago, Susannah was happily married, and very pregnant with their first child. She was a healer, and a good one. Then a jealous woman accused her of witch craft, because she wanted Susannah’s life. Her child was born early in jail and died, unattended, and Susannah was burned at the stake. No one stood up for her, not the husband she dearly loved, nor any of the villagers she healed. Her heart burned with vengeance when she died, and she was given a second chance at life. If she agreed to become a demon’s assassin. Susannah agreed, and her first act was to kill the woman who falsely accused her.
She was trained in the martial arts by another Ageless One, also beholden to the demon Susannah is bound to. They are called Ageless, as they are practically immortal, but not really. And if they decide to quit their lives, they will be tortured for eternity. But Susannah, or Maliha as she is calling herself nowadays, is getting tired of it all. She wants out. And there is a loophole in her contract with Rabishu, if she can safe as many people as she killed in 300 years, she will be free. But she will be mortal again, and age, though not as an ordinary human. Whenever she safes someone, she will age, and not in a predictable way. Saving one life can cost her 3 years, while saving hundreds at a time, only a few months.
We are told most of this in flashbacks, which took some getting used to, I prefer linear stories.
In the years since she has stopped being an assassin, Maliha has made some friends, but not many, and only a few of those know about her past and her mission. Now two decoders have been brutally murdered, and she needs to find out why, in order to keep a friend safe, who might be the next target. And so she sets out to gather information. One of her skills is to relive a murder, and set the soul part of the victim that remains, free. Her hacker friend Amaro has no trouble to find out what the two were working on, and finding two companies that both used their services. So Maliha is determined to check both of them out, to see if one of them is behind the murders. What do they have to hide?
In the meantime, her friend Randy sets her up on a blind date with a DEA agent, named Jake Hautpman, and to her own surprise, Maliha is very much attracted to him, and it appears to be mutual. But life interferes before their relationship progresses further than a kiss. And when she tells him of some drugsmuggling, her friend and private investigator Hound has found out, she becomes a suspect. She doesn’t want to tell him how she knows things, things her legal face and persona as the mystery author Marscha Winters could not know.
And then there is the stalker, who is another Ageless, and really wants her for himself. But for now, he is under orders to leave her alone, for now. As Maliha is mortal, and he is not, and in full possession of all his powers, it will be very difficult to beat him. But beat him, and the man he is working for, has to be done.
I have had this series on my wishlist and my TBR for a while, and am glad that I finally picked up the first book. At first, I had some trouble with all the flashbacks, to her loosing her baby, again and again, but Maliha soon grew on me. She is a true kick ass heroine, she is great at plotting and planning, she still has some of her demonic powers, only diminished, and she is a very good at burgling. I love how she gets into highly guarded buildings, and is not afraid of getting hurt. She is still difficult to kill, but she does heal much more slowly now. And whenever she manages to save someone, that hurts as well, when the scale burned onto her stomach tips a little bit.
Maliha does not make friends easily, but she has been thinking of starting a new life, finding a partner, maybe a new chance at having children of her own, before her time is up. Which is good for her, but I like the kick ass part better. I like Dakota Banks’ writing style, the very original story, and the characters. Her friends are intriguing characters, and there are flashbacks to how Maliha saved them.
I am looking forward to reading the next book, which is on my shelves, and have immediately ordered the third one.
© 2013 Reviews by Aurian