Friday, November 18, 2011

Review: Smoulder

Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Release Date: Nov 15 2011 (US) / December 2011 (AU)
Publisher: Razorbill US / Simon & Schuster AU
Add it: Goodreads
Being the youngest daughter of the Devil has never been easy. Daphne's father has no time for her, her mother no interest, and her status in the upper echelon separates her from the working-class demons that populate Lucifer's metropolis. When her brother and only confidante goes missing, life in the restrictive city of Pandemonium becomes intolerable. Now, in an attempt to find him, Daphne sets out for Earth - and finds it larger and more chaotic than she imagined: a dazzling expanse of noise, dirt and random violence. Despite her bewilderment, she navigates the mortal world with growing fascination, gaining an ally when she saves a dying boy from her father's minions.

For Truman Flynn, the last year has been one long downward spiral, but when Daphne arrives just in time to save his life, he finds himself unexpectedly glad to have another chance. Together, Daphne and Truman go in search of her brother, braving the hazards of Las Vegas and the perils of first love, even as it becomes increasingly clear that her brother might have had a secret and compelling reason for leaving. Lucifer's agents aren't the only creatures on the prowl, and Daphne soon finds herself the target of a plan to rid the world of demons for good. Now she must evade a demon-eating monster, rescue her brother from an angelic zealot, and save the boy she loves from his greatest enemy - himself.
There is no denying it, Brenna Yovanoff has a beautiful way with words. Her gorgeous prose transports you right into the steely heart of Pandemonium.  I loved the darkly unique spin Brenna put on Hell, it wasn't the pit of doom and gloom we've all grown up knowing. Oh, there's plenty of fire and torture and brimstone, but there is heart amongst the horror. Brenna breathed new life into the age old beliefs, here you'll find a story where both demons and angels are capable of good and bad. Love is not reserved just for the pure and holy, nor is sadism for the wicked and damned. Her mythology was so captivating, I would love to delve back into Pandeomnium in the future!

I'm not sure I quite expected to form such a connection with the daughter of a demon and a fallen angel, but Daphne is a surprisingly likable protagonist. Growing up in Pandemonium with the likes of Lilith and Lucifer as her parents, there are expectations both from others and herself, but she's never really lived up to them. She's not like her sisters, who tempt and seduce, nor does she feel as kind-hearted and pure as her brother, Obie. But when Obie goes missing in the human world, Daphne makes the decision to enter a world so foreign and complex to what she's known and it's here that her loyalty and determination shine through. I loved seeing how she navigated the human world and began to grow into herself, find who she truly is and what she's capable of.

Both she and Truman are two characters so richly explored that you can't help but bond with both, despite that they are so remarkably different from one another. Truman is a broken shell of a boy when we meet him. He's hit rock bottom, alcoholic and suicidal, on a downward spiral since the death of his mother. There's a desperate, lonely aura of sadness surrounding him, but then he meets Daphne. And no, it's not insta-love, it's not an immediate cure for him, but it's the beginning of something deep and heart-rendering, perfectly paced. There was this raw, honest quality to these two that I really enjoyed seeing evolve.

Smoulder is beautifully written, emotionally rich and so creatively imagined. Brenna has skillfully constructed a haunting tale of heaven and hell, dark and light and the large expanse of gray that blurs between. She dives deep into the very soul of her characters and explores every layer. With its thoroughly captivating mythology, brilliantly-crafted characters and unpredictable twists, this is not a novel you want to miss!

4/5 Golden Apples


  1. Glad you enjoyed this book. Great review. I loved this book . . . surprisingly more than The Replacement. :)

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed Smolder, or I guess, what I call The Space Between since that's what it's called in US/Canada. I still have this one on my TBR pile, but I haven't had a chance to start it yet. Thanks for the great review Brodie and I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed the book! :)

  3. I REALLY should read the Replacement! It's been sitting on my shelf for AGES!

    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

  4. I had no clue this was The Space Between here in Canada/US. It sounds great though.

    I keep hearing how wonderful Brenna Yovanoff's novels are. I am going to have to pick one up!

  5. OH! I thought Smoulder/The Space Between was a sequel to The Replacement! Never mind then...

    This sounds really awesome. I'm curious about the portrayal of hell since you said it was a unique spin. Great review! :)

  6. I was already in love with the summary of this, but your last paragraph pretty much seals the deal for me. It really sounds so amazing!

  7. Wow..a Brenna Yovanoff novel? That pretty much makes it on my to-read-asap list! I love Brenna's writing - both of her short stories and her novel. I'm really liking the sound of this one. Reviews have been popping up everywhere! Good protagonist and well-developed characters? I'm convinced! Great review!


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