Series: KNIGHT'S CURSE
Plot Type: UF
Ratings: V4; S2; H2
Knight's Curse (2011)
Darkest Knight (3/2012)
This blog entry was revised and updated on 4/14/12 to include a review of the second book in the series: Darkest Knight. That review comes first, followed by an overview of the world-building and a review of book 1:
BOOK 2: Darkest Knight
The plot, thin as it is, revolves around the murders by suffocation of a large number of Hatchet Knights. Chalice gets involved when the mysterious murderer shows up at Halo House and attempts to suffocate two of her sister Knights. With the help of Aydin, Rafe, and a few others, Chalice sets out to track down the mysterious villainess. A secondary story thread involves Chalice's search for an artifact that will allow Aydin to become human again. Chalice gets possession of the artifact early on in the story, but then it is stolen after she buries it in her Grandmother's back yard (in full view of anyone in the house—not a smart move).
Here's just another mystifying part of the world-building: There are different "veils" in this world: silver (for regular Angels), black (for Fallen Angels), and green (for Fae). What exactly are these "veils"? Who knows. There are also "dimensions." The mortal earth is the third dimension, while ghosts inhabit the fourth dimension. What does this mean? Who knows? In addition to these problems, the plot is filled with holes. For example, in one scene, Chalice retrieves a stolen "flying" charm from a young sorcerer, but just a few pages later, that same sorcerer still has the charm and uses it against her—which makes no sense at all.
In summary, this book is even less satisfying that book 1. The author appears to be making up the world-building as she goes along, with few explanations and little continuity. Chalice isn't a very satisfying heroine. She jumps head-first into situations with little forethought, and her social skills are practically nonexistent. None of the talents she demonstrated in book 1 seem to be of any use to her in book 2. She makes one bad decision after another and then needs help from Aydin or Rafe or Barachiel (her father) to get out of trouble.
This world is populated with a variety of supernaturals, primarily sorcerers, Angels (aka Arelim), Fallen Angels, and gargoyles, with some enhanced humans thrown into the mix. The heroine is Chalice, who is half-angel and half-human. As the series opens, she has superhuman senses that require her to shield her eyes, plug her ears, and filter her breathing so that she is not overwhelmed by her surroundings. Duvall has gone overboard with Chalice's various skills (e.g., brilliant art historian, master impersonator, talented Visayan knife fighter since childhood). For the past 13 of her 25 years, Chalice has been enslaved by an evil sorcerer (Gavin Heinrich), who has bonded her to a homicidal gargoyle (Shui). Every 72 hours, Shui must lick Chalice's tattoo or she will permanently turn into a gargoyle herself—kind of gross, but inventive. Gavin is the egomaniacal CEO of a mysterious supernatural mob-type group called the Vyantara, which collects magical artifacts and sells them for huge profits to its clients from the dark side of the supernatural world. Chalice is one of several thieves enslaved by the Vyantara to track down and steal the magical objects. Beware, though, Chalice's circumstances change completely by the end of book 1 and again in book 2.
Chalice's romantic interest is Aydin Berkant, who starts out as human, then is transformed twice (once in book 1 and once in book 2) into a different form.
BOOK 1: Knight's Curse
As the series begins, Chalice has been brought to the Vyantara Fatherhouse in Denver, where Gavin inexplicably gives her a letter written by her mother before her birth and commands her to read it to him. Gavin can't read it because Chalice's mother treated the ink magically so that only her daughter could read it. Why has Gavin waited 13 years to force Chalice to read him the letter? When she asks him that question, he replies, "You weren't ready." (p. 53) What does that mean? Ready for what? But we get no further information. This is an example of the many weak moments in the story when characters take action and/or make statements that aren't supported by anything except the author's need to manipulate the plot so that the characters can go on to the next step in her plot outline. The hero of the story is Aydin Berkant, an immortal warrior who is in the same gargoyle-enslaved situation as Chalice, with the exception that Aydin has lucked out with a friendly gargoyle while Chalice is saddled with a psycho-sadistic one. The plot involves a mummified head that can speak, missing body parts, an angel whisperer (Quin), and a reunion with Chalice's long-missing father. Oh, yes...and the breaking of Chalice's gargoyle curse, so that she can begin the second book as a free woman.