I will first say that I am a little biased. I did a writing workshop with Tosca and found her to be one of the highlights of the 2016 Florida Writers Conference. She is an amazing teacher and gave many invaluable tips on writing.
Wonderful debut novel. It is a slow burn, a story that digs its fingers into you as you read. It does have a Christian slant but it really didn’t bother me as a reader. I actually enjoyed the POV of creation from the demon. For me the greater themes of choice, unconditional love and hate overshadowed religion and carried the book, as did the relationship between Clay and the demon.
This is the first book in a long time that has managed to catch me off guard. I found my thoughts wandered back to its pages, wondering what happens next. That is the pull of a great author, the ability to carry the novel into your world and make you ponder. It is also one of the book’s greatest strengths. At some point, the narration turns and suddenly we as the reader are confronted with truths – Universal truths. For me that was the high point of the book, the realization I am of the story, having a conversation with the author on the pages – albeit a little one sided and that I am mirroring the protagonist as I sort out what resonates for me.
Maybe because of this, I related more to the Demon than I did Clay. Demon’s story was intriguing, raw and emotionally real. I understand hate, falling, the desire to punish, loss of redemption, the act of reclamation and the choice to reclaim (which Demon in his way also offers Clay). Demon was less of a demon and more the tortured angry soul by the end of the book. Tosca did an AMAZING job capturing Demon considering he always changes forms yet I always felt his presence in the bodies he possessed and the consistency of his voice.
Clay however lacked a certain depth. He never resonated for me. I found him whiny, increasingly pathetic and emotionally distant – especially towards the end where I should have felt more connected. The ending could have been great if I were more emotionally vested in Clay.
**Spoiler Alert **
Yes, Clay forgave his wife but the emotional payoff of it, or the tragedy of him learning about his death and that he is the monster had no bite. The ending fell flat. While I admire the passing on of choice to the reader, the epilogue felt like an easy out without any real resolution.
Tosca Lee however did succeed in pulling me in. The book had a great climax and hit its stride late, as I said earlier, it is a slow burn. For a first novel, Tosca Lee proved she is a writer with weight. The themes of unconditional love, hate and choice are large themes to tackle. Tosca Lee was not only able to tame these themes, but did so in a way that was a pleasure to read. I look forward to reading more of her work.