Friday, 6 January 2017

Devil's Bargain by Rachel Caine (Red Letter Days, #1) - Book Review

4.5/5 Stars

Playing by the psychic underworld's rules has a cost...

How high a price is she willing to pay...?

Edition: Paperback
Pages: 331
Chapters: 10
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


I underestimated Devil's Bargain... I admit that freely (although, I'm fairly positive I promised myself that I'd stop premature judgements of a book).

I expected a solid, young-adult novel with supernatural stories and teenage angst.

Oh, how I was wrong...

Devil's Bargain, the first entry to Caine's Red Letter Days series (I think it's a duology, but don't quote me), is an astounding adult thriller with a sharp supernatural edge. Its plot, characters, and writing are on-point. Caine creates a dark and untrustworthy world that effortlessly tests themes like friendship, loyalty, and choice. 

And if you're a fan of conspiracies, the author bolsters them here with sassy sarcasm and red-hot romance.


Playing by the psychic underworld's rules has a 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 bargaining for her friend's freedom. She's bargaining for her soul too.


Plot - 4.5/5 Stars

Devil's Bargain blasts off with a bar fight and heaps of mystery, introducing distinct characters and excellently scripted scenes. The blurb undoubtedly piqued my interest, but those first few pages, and of course the novel as a whole, renders the back of the book a sad, weak description. The supernatural is obvious from the start, but Caine doesn't bash the reader over the head with it, preferring instead to allude with eerie and exciting omens.

Along with the ominous, psychic tone, the author introduces some thrilling mysteries. Each helps break up the plot into captivating nuggets that form a golden story with adrenaline-dripping action to push the reader's heart just that little bit faster. 

When answers begin to meander in, the world blooms into a thought-provoking flower. Devil's Bargain places heavy emphasis on loyalty and the consequences of our choices. The way it walks so many possible paths and tickles at the reader's detective side at the same time is superb. 

With that pleasurable weight added, Caine delights with a fiery, heart-pounding end that leaves on a surprisingly effective cliffhanger. I will admit the finale is a little anticlimactic in some ways, but there's a second book to devour, so I'm nowhere near disappointed.

Pace - 4.5/5 Stars

Psychic predictions, mystery, and action awesomeness delivers you from chapter to chapter with unexpected ferocity.

Characters - 4.5/5 Stars

One of the things that instantly elevates this book once it appears is the relationship between Jazz and Lucia (a platonic relationship). While Jazz is, more or less, the main character and viewpoint, Devil's Bargain has a brilliant buddy-cop feel to it, with Jazz and Lucia equal partners that compliment one another like two long-lost jigsaw pieces. The way they're manipulated together, an ex-cop and current spy respectively, adds intrigue, but their personalities bounce well off each other. Jazz, hard and forceful, compliments Lucia's more contemplative nature. Both are ready for all types of action, but they have their differing specialities that promise a phenomenal partnership.

On a less platonic side, Jazz's chemistry with James Borden sizzles. Caine uses their diverse character profiles to great effect, and the result is a slow, passionate game full of mistrust and romance.

In all, the relationships in Devil's Bargain are seamless.

Writing - 4/5 Stars

I love Caine's writing. It's undeniably addictive and smooth to read. Devil's Bargain is simple, clear, and does a great job of setting up mystical mystery. Events build with a solid structure and character relationships provide the author with many an opportunity to showcase her hilarious comedy.

Overall - 4.5/5 Stars

A stellar supernatural story that thrills and tantalises with undeniable fire - that's Devil's Bargain in a nutshell. It's a surprising novel.

With strong themes of friendship and choice, Caine delivers a captivating thriller that will force the reader to question the consequences of their actions once the last page is done.

Why are there only two books in the series?

Next Instalment: Devil's Due

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