Author: Rachel Caine
Series: Red Letter Days #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published: 5th October 2012 (reprint)
Source: Review copy from publisher
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First SentenceSol’s Tavern was a place for serious drinkers.
What’s the price of a deal with the devil?
Playing by the psychic underworld’s rules has cost.
Jazz Callender’s whole life just got turned upside down. Her friend Ben’s been convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, and Jazz is determined to clear his name, even if it means enlisting the help of dark forces.
Enter James, a stranger with a mysterious offer. If Jazz pledges to work for The Cross Society, a shadowy secret organisation, he’ll help her save Ben.
But as she’s thrust into a world of psychic powers and dangerous magic, Jazz isn’t just bargain for her friend’s freedom. She’s bargaining for her soul too.
And how high a price is she willing to pay?
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Devil’s Bargain knowing it was very early Rachel Caine and reading through a large chunk of the novel that felt more thriller than urban fantasy didn’t help me feel much more confident, but a little over halfway through the paranormal aspect of the story kicked in and I realised that this was another of Rachel Caine’s urban fantasy greats, as well written and addictive as her others.
My biggest issue with Devil’s Bargain was the lack of much of a paranormal aspect for the first half of the novel. This is very much a personal problem because regular thrillers are not my thing but it did spoil the read a little for me. My other issue was Jazz’s antagonistic attitude. She seems adamant to push people who can genuinely help her away and I know this is a common character flaw in many urban fantasy heroines but I just can’t understand the appeal. I mean, her first conversation with Lucia ends with both of them hanging up on each other because of it, yet later on we see them working together very well. It’s such a dislikeable quality.
Once the novel goes into paranormal territory, I saw that Devil’s Bargain is just as good as any of Rachel Caine’s later novels. Jazz gets into a lot of trouble, and also gets herself out of it. I became so gripped that I couldn’t put the book down for long enough to remember to take notes so excuse me if my review is missing anything but the good bit was really good. It is fast paced and even a little bit scary, particularly that ending. That sent goosebumps down my spine. You’ll see.
To sum up? Devil’s Bargain is a fast paced urban fantasy thriller that will have you unable to remove yourself from the world of Jazz Callender and friends. But then you knew that – it’s a Rachel Caine novel after all.
The Red Letter Days series:
1. Devil’s Bargain
2. Devil’s Due