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Fire & Shadow (Hand of Kali, #1)

Fire & Shadow (Hand of Kali, #1) - T.G. Ayer Honestly, I kept going back and forth on this novel. I really, really liked that the lead character wasn’t your typical misunderstood gawky white heroine. On the other hand, I had trouble getting attached to Maya because she seemed to spend a good chunk of the book being angry at those around her and not accepting the situation and facing things head on. I liked that not all the adults in this book were total idiots or assholes. Maya has parents that honestly care about her and there is Claudia, the close family friend who is something of an aunt to Maya. Maya doesn’t see all adults as The Enemy. This was refreshing in a YA novel. I loved the Hindu deities being an active part in the story, but felt that they were one or perhaps two dimensional, never reaching their full potential.

Some of the dialogue came off as still requiring some polishing. For instance, Maya and Joss were drugged at this party they went to early in the book. When Maya confesses to her parents about going to the party and accepting an alcoholic drink, and suspecting the two of them were drugged, her parents react to the alcoholic drink instead of the drugging and physical assault that happened afterwards. Really? I’m not a parent, but I still have to wonder what a parent would be more angry about: their teenage kid going to a party and having a drink or someone intentionally drugging their kid and assaulting them? Hmm… I would go with the later. So, there were situations like that with the dialogue.

I liked that Maya was fighting bad demons but that there were all different types of demons, living demons lives. Some were good and behaved well in human society. Others were pricks and needed to be eliminated from this plane of existence. Maya’s primary guide in such knowledge was Nik Lucas, a young, handsome, enigmatic character. Maya has butterflies in her belly over this guy. They have a few moments when it seems the romance might take off, but it never does fully. I tried to get invested in that relationship, but it didn’t happen for me. Still, Nik was an interesting character, plenty to ponder about him, his past, his heritage.

Throughout the book, there were a variety of small things left unexplained. Maya ends up in the hospital after the party with a broken rib, punctured lung, and a face that looks like it walked into too many doors. So what do the doctors say to this? Do they react with suspicions of abuse? Nope. In fact, we never see the doctors on scene. No police either. Then there is the warding. How does warding work in this world? Who can make wards? What different types of wards are there? While I tried to turn off my analytical brain and simply enjoy the novel (and at times I did), sometimes these little nagging questions built up and yammered for explanation.

As you can see, I am definitely in the middle of the road on this one. Lots of great premise here: Hindu deities, non-Caucasian lead, demons in all shapes and sizes, not all adults are the enemy. But then we have some execution issues, as described above. Still, I would say this author is worth keeping an eye on to see where her career takes her.