The first book in Liu’s UF series which doesn’t have witches, werewolves or vampires but demons.

Maxine Kiss is the last protector of humankind. Demons have been expelled from Earth into a supernatural prison but some of them still roam the Earth.

Maxine’s mother was a Warden and she taught the profession to Maxine. The Wardenship and the tattoos that go with it are hereditary so Maxine didn’t have a way to decline them. The women of her line have always been Wardens.

Except for her face, Maxine is covered in tattoos which make her pretty much invulnerable. However, the tattoos are really manifestations of the five demons she carries with her. By day, the demons are the tattoos and protect her. By night, the demons separate themselves from her and she becomes vulnerable again. Of course, the demons are expected to defend her during the night. By the way, this isn’t a 12 hour cycle; when the sun goes down, the demons separate from her.

The five demons are with Maxine because of an ancient pact. According to it, Maxine has to get a child and when her child is old enough, Maxine will die and give the demons to her. This happened with Maxine’s mother who died five years ago. Maxine never knew her father or any other family than the demons which she calls “the boys”.

She lives with her boyfriend Grant who is a former priest. He can play his flute and sooth zombies, which are humans that demons have taken over. Grant and Maxine live in the building where his homeless shelter is. Maxine seems to know Grant pretty well and yet there are rather broad hints that Grant might not who she thinks he is.

The police come to the shelter looking for Maxine because they found a dead private investigator who was looking for her. She doesn’t know anything about it but doesn’t like it, and she starts to investigate the death herself.

The plot is full of twists and turns. Even though Maxine starts as a confident woman who knows her place in the world and how the world works, during the story she starts to doubt her information and finds out that there are things that have been deliberately kept from her. To make things worse, it seems that the line between the Earth and the demons’ prison, called the Veil, is starting to weaken and the apocalypse may be near.

Lui really throws the reader in the deep end and doesn’t explain much. This can be quite frustrating at first.

I really liked her writing style. Her sentences are often short and she doesn’t do much descriptions.

I liked most of the characters. Grant is a do-gooder who is trying to redeem demons. Maxine doubts that he can succeed but lets one zombie hang around. While I can sort of understand Grant’s desire to redeem demons, the fact still remains that the demons on Earth need host bodies – humans. Isn’t Grant at all worried that the host humans can loose a big chunk of their lives?

The boys have also personalities even tough only one of them can speak. They are usually protective of Maxine but now they have secrets they have been keeping even from her. We meet both Maxine’s mother and grandmother in flashbacks and her grandmother is a very formidable woman.

There are also several mysterious characters. They seemed interesting but were also source of my biggest frustration. They seem to know more than Maxine and yet they refused to tell her anything.

However, the mysteries were intriguing enough and I like the writing style so I’m likely to continue with the series

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