For every monster there is a hunter. Someone who puts their life on the line to protect the innocent and the unwary. Someone who stands in the gap and says this much and no farther. Someone who draws a line in the sand and declares that the killing ends here and now.
Today’s Horrifying Hallowe’en selections highlight two such hunters. In each case they are young, resourceful women who find themselves suddenly on their own in a world that is far more dangerous than they ever suspected or believed and who must rise to the occasion to protect not only themselves but the uninitiated around them.
Lili St. Crow
Dru Anderson has what her grandmother called “the touch.” (Comes in handy when you’re traveling from town to town with your dad, hunting ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and the occasional zombie.) Then her dad turns up dead—but still walking—and Dru knows she’s next. Even worse, she’s got two guys hungry for her affections, and they’re not about to let the fiercely independent Dru go it alone. Will Dru discover just how special she really is before coming face-to-fang with whatever—or whoever— is hunting her?
Lilith Saintcrow has become one of my favorite urban fantasy writers in recent years. I ripped through her two adult series – books featuring the kickass heroines Dante Valentine and Jill Kismet – and was lamenting the end of both when I discovered she also wrote young adult fiction under the name Lili St. Crow. I dove into them immediately and didn’t come up for air until I had read all five.
STRANGE ANGELS opens with a bang and doesn’t let up until the very end. In a way it is a coming of age novel, as Dru is forced to step into her missing father’s shoes and take on the role of hunter while trying to learn what happened to him. It is a fresh take on a popular YA genre and showcases a heroine who is gutsy and tough but still stuck with all the trials of your typical teenager.
THE DEMON TRAPPER’S DAUGHTER
Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself – and that’s exactly what the demons are counting on…
Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper, Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps. The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta’s local Trappers’ Guild needs all the help they can get – even from a girl. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils – Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life’s about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen.
But then a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, sudden tragedy strikes the Trappers’ Guild, spinning Riley down a more dangerous path than she ever could have imagined. As her whole world crashes down around her, who can Riley trust with her heart – and her life?
It’s 2018 and Riley Blackthorne’s only dream is to become a demon trapper like her father. When he is killed at the hands of a grade five demon, Riley finds herself thrust into what has traditionally been a man’s world, forced to prove herself not just against the demons that hunt her but her father’s former comrades in the demon trapper’s guild.
With the help of her father’s former partner, Riley is more determined than ever to become a full-fledged trapper. Balancing school, watching over her father’s grave so a necromancer doesn’t claim him as a servant, and apprenticing with one of the roughest masters would keep most people’s hands full. But Riley is special, and Heaven has an important job for her should she choose to accept her calling.
Oliver presents a very unique version of Atlanta and populates it with interesting supernatural creatures. Her characters are strong and well-defined – though the teen-agey angst coming off Riley was occasionally a bit overdone for me – and populate a story that goes in very interesting directions. The series fourth and final volume is due out in December.
Joseph Nassise is the author of more than twenty novels, including the internationally bestselling Templar Chronicles series, the Great Undead War series, and the Jeremiah Hunt trilogy. He is a former president of the Horror Writers Association, the world’s largest organization of professional horror writers, and a multiple Bram Stoker Award and International Horror Guild Award nominee.
You can find him online at Shades of Reality.
Please note: The Demon Trapper’s Daughter is known as The Demon Trappers: Forsaken in the UK and Australia. You’ll find both versions on the full list of Joseph’s picks!