Plot: Billi is the youngest and only female member of the Knights Templar. She spends all her time training and fighting the Unholy along the few remaining members of the Order. Her only friend her age is the Oracle, Kay, who has spent the past year out of contact in Jerusalem. She yearns for a normal life where bruises and death are not a daily worry. So when she meets Mike, who seems to understand her better than anyone, she is swept off her feet. But a new danger has surfaced, one that puts all the first born in London at risk. Billi may have to sacrifice all that she loves in order to save them, and herself.
I was about to call this novel a pleasant read but really it is anything but. What it is is exciting and engrossing. Chadda’s story has some of the elements of a paranormal romance – an unusual girl, two gorgeous boys vying for her and supernatural creatures galore – but I would describe it as horror. It unsettles and frightens more than it seduces. And it does it well. Chadda’s novel is full of action and heart-stopping danger. Billi is really kick-ass (as are her father and the other Templar Knight) but in a realistic way. They are not supernaturally powerful warriors. Their fights are all the more exciting because they are hard and we truly don’t know if they will win. Sometimes they fail, sometimes they need to sacrifice. “You shall keep the company of martyrs,” Chadda often says of the Templars so I knew it couldn’t always end well and yet every time it hurt.
But Chadda delivers more than ass-kicking and tragedy. Those of us who with an English Lit degree will be pleased to pick out the references to Arthurian legend; the Templars, for example, are all named after knights of the round table (my favorite being Percy and not only because he shares a name with my cat). He also makes great use of Christian, Jewish and Islamic mythology to explain the monsters of his world. His angels and vampires feel fresh and absolutely terrifying (I will not be falling in love with them any time soon).
Billi’s adventures continue in Dark Goddess where she will face werewolves and none other that Baba Yaga of Russian lore. I cannot wait. Meanwhile go read Chadda’s article on Unworthy heroes at Diversity in YA, it’s what’s made me pick up his book in the first place. I’m glad I did.