Gripping the reader from its highly entertaining opening scene, the terrific Hellforged, the second installment in the Deadtown series, maintains that hold until the very end. Exterminating MIT’s computer glitch demon proves pesky for shapeshifting demon-slayer Vicky Vaughn, but she succeeds, and after dropping her apprentice-in-training, Tina, off at her group home for zombie teens, she heads home to the apartment she shares with her Shakespeare-obsessed vampire roommate, Juliet (yes, that Juliet). A less-than-satisfying phone conversation with her on-again/off-again boyfriend, werewolf lawyer Kane, currently lobbying for paranormal rights in D.C., leads Vicky to decide to visit Creature Comforts, a bar frequented by paranorms and humans alike.
When a vindictive man from whom Juliet refused to feed accuses her of attacking him, the ensuing investigation by a unit of the Goon squad, comprised of one zombie and one very arrogant human, results in the bar closing early. After she arrives home, Vicky realizes she left her watch at the bar, which she verifies with T.J., one of the new workers. When she goes to bed, Vicky dreams of the Hellion demon she has bound to her and cannot go back to sleep. Deciding she will go pick up her watch at Creature Comforts, she discovers the obliterated remains of the cheerful T.J. Later that night while on a drude (dream-invading) demon extermination, the Hellion appears in her client’s dreamscape. When another zombie death occurs, Vicky fears she must be somehow connected to the events. Seeking the counsel of her aunt Mab, the latter insists Vicky must leave immediately for Wales to continue her training.
Holzner’s expertise as a mystery author shines brightly throughout the narrative as she flawlessly connects threads of both the tale told in Hellforged and the overall story arc of the Deadtown series. This fabulous novel skillfully combines several distinct elements into a highly-satisfying whole: action, adventure, suspense, Welsh mythology, humor, and pitch-perfect characters that live and breathe on the page. Though she engages in a bit more self-reflection than she did in book one, Vicky continues to forge ahead on her mission despite her misgivings about her abilities, as she realizes that her duty requires her best effort regardless of any insecurities or self- doubt she may harbor.
With its vivid open paranormal world’s uneasy co-existence with “normal” human society lending an authentic feel to the novel, Hellforged invites parallels to aspects of our own contemporary society. This excellent series belongs in the collection of all urban fantasy fans, and this reviewer plans to be first in line for book three, willing to go along with Vicky on whatever adventures her creator has in store.
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Ace; Original edition (December 28, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0441019803
- ISBN-13: 978-0441019809