Soul Keeper (Brotherhood of Shadows #1) by Cathryn Marr
Read: 28th June – 4th July 2019
Publication Date: 9th July 2019
Quote from Soul Keeper
“Luceire took in the lithe form of his quarry, and the first thing that flared through the lingering pain of her song was a savage growl of satisfaction.
My Overall Rating: 1/5
Plot: 3/5 – Flow: 1/5 – Character Development: 1/5 – World Building: 1/5
Soul Keeper is the début novel (approx 276 pages) of Cathryn Marr – the pseudo name for the writing partnership of Terese Ramin and Dawn Johanson – that kicks off their new paranormal romance series the Brotherhood of Shadows. This story is set in an alternative world America, with the bulk of the action taking place in San Francisco.
If you’ve read any of my reviews before, you’ll know that I write about how the story was told rather than the plot itself, which means that my reviews don’t contain spoilers of any kind or reveal any plot twists, so here’s what the official blurb has to say about the story:
He’s a heavenly outcast. She’s a mortal woman with unearthly gifts. Can they ward off a rising apocalypse?
Fallen angel Luceire Garard has spent an eternity chasing redemption. So, when he’s given a mission to find and protect a defenseless young psychic, he jumps at the chance. But he never expected the beautiful woman who could help his mission to slam him in the chest with an impossible power.
Aurora Montgomery has always had a special connection to kids with disabilities. As more and more children reach out to her in pain, she knows she has no choice but to join the darkly handsome Fallen on a death-defying mission. But when a serial killer targets the innocent children, saving them may require tapping into an ancient, unexplainable gift.
As Luceire and Aurora hunt down the murderer, they discover his attempt to sacrifice souls could resurrect an ancient, indestructible darkness. And the only way to stop the end of the world may require shedding innocent blood.
Can Luceire and Aurora avoid the unthinkable and stop the end of humanity?
Soul Keeper is the first book in the sexy paranormal romance series, Brotherhood of Shadows. If you like complex characters, high-stakes suspense, and supernatural battles, then you’ll love Cathryn Marr’s highly sensual, fast-paced tale.
Buy Soul Keeper to unlock a sinister mystery today!
So, before we get into what I thought about this book, I want you to know that I was given an unedited digital version of this book for free from the publisher (Brokenoggin Books, LLC) after making a request via Netgally.com in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review; these are my words, I’m giving you my honest opinion here.
I requested Soul Keeper through NetGalley for a number of reasons; the front cover caught my eye – you’ve got to agree, it is beautiful, the story description piqued my interest – a main character who helps children with disabilities, the hunt for a serial killer, a fallen angel, an ancient evil, secret magical powers and a romance, yes please and of course I love supporting debut authors. Unfortunately, Soul Keeper didn’t turn out to be quite what I expected.
I loved the rather terrifying but well written opening prologue titled Before and enjoyed the first chapter finding it easy to read; it felt like an intelligent story with inspiration taken from a few sources including the myths and beliefs from the Abrahamic religions, i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
We met four of the main characters in that first chapter, each having their own voice; which I wasn’t expecting, however, I didn’t feel overwhelmed as it was clear whose point of view we were experiencing. I have read romances featuring angels and fallen angels before but I don’t think I’ve ever read a story where the heroine was a dance therapist who helped children with disabilities and I was intrigued to see how this unique occupation would come into play.
The first chapter also gave us a great view of the world that was created for the series; not so dissimilar to the world we live in that we can’t relate to it but with many paranormal elements and a history of human acceptance of the supernatural thrown into the mix.
This book has some serious adult heat and darker themes; I do enjoy getting my teeth into gritty background stories when reading adult paranormal romances and liked the premise here.
As a first in a new series, there is a huge amount of world building and character introductions to squeeze in. There’s a lot of inner dialogue, much of it to help us (the readers) understand and get a picture of the world and our characters’ places in it. I must confess, however, that it was after reading the first few chapters that my enthusiasm for this story began to wane due to a number reasons including the way this writing duo chose to impart relevant information, the personality of our leading lady, Aurora (Rory) and the discrepancies in the prose used, i.e. the words used in the narrative and dialogue.
As you can tell from my low rating, there was a lot that didn’t work for me and I need to be honest and admit that I started skim reading before reaching the halfway point. I’m not going to list everything that I didn’t enjoy, however, I will highlight my main grumbles.
Firstly, I struggled with the writing style. I understand that I read an Advanced Reader Copy that was pre-publication, so I expected to see proofreading needs, what frustrated me with the writing style, apart from a couple of plot holes that jumped out at me, was the inconsistency. I felt that the prose was contradictory, modern slang and profanity one minute then PG rated expletives and descriptions the next, the narrative frequently felt over described and on occasion even used obscure vocabulary that forced me to stop reading so that I could look up what a word meant plus there is a huge amount of “information dumping” throughout the book rather than letting the reader gain the necessary knowledge through experience which all contributed to the disruption to the flow of the plot.
Secondly, this book is marketed as a “sexy, paranormal romance” but I think it was sorely missing the romance, lust, yes there was plenty of that as well as implied sexual “deviance” but although Luc proved he was worthy of Rory’s love by being her protector, never lying to her and giving her his trust, I didn’t read anything where Rory earned Luc’s, she just got him hard and horny all the time and didn’t seem to consider him in any of her decisions. I think that if you removed the explicit sexual foreplay scenes from this story, the way the characters thought and reacted to situations plus the general writing style throughout the book all screamed adolescent/YA genre. I am not a YA fan.
However, my biggest gripe which you may have guessed, was with our heroine, Rory. If you’ve read my reviews before, you’ll know that I crave leading female characters that are intelligent, resilient, resourceful and have plenty of gumption; Rory fell very short of the mark for me. I could never understand why she reacted to situations the way she did and I got very frustrated, with what I perceived as, her TSTL modus operandi – Too Stupid To Live. I felt that Rory was too gung-ho for me running into danger that was way over her head and needing to be rescued while putting those around her in mortal danger. In short I found her annoying, frustrating, a terrible sexual tease and extremely juvenile.
I don’t usually choose to read New Adult, Young Adult or teen novels because of all the angst, thought processes and actions of these age groups; it all frustrates the hell out of me and my blood pressure doesn’t need that kind of stress from my “hobby”.
I think that this writing duo have written a book that could happily be classed as erotic young adult – is there such a genre? It wasn’t the book for me but I am sure plenty of readers will love the mix.
Due to the explicit sexual content – although there’s no actual intercourse it’s definitely very steamy at times – I’d recommend Soul Keeper to adults who aren’t offended by content of this nature but are fans relationship tales set against a dark backstory but within the paranormal Young Adult or New Adult genre.
So, although SOUL KEEPER (BROTHERHOOD OF SHADOWS #1) was not the book for me, I hope my review still may encourage you to find out more? As I write this, it has received some 4 and 5 star reviews from other readers. Just click on any of the links below to check out the book yourself or to find out more about the author.
(I am part of Amazon , The Book Depository, Foyles Book Shop and Waterstones affiliate programmes, which means when you use those links to buy a copy of this book, I will get a (very) small % from the sale.)
Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read my review.