Popping Our Cherry with “The Unlikeable Demon Hunter”

This is not a full book review. All we’ve read of the following book is the free sample available from Amazon’s Kindle store. Using that, combined with the blurb on the book, and reviews on Goodreads we tell you if we would — and if you should — go ahead and buy this book and why. Or why not.

Have you ever looked at a book that Amazon, Goodreads or someone you know recommended to you with the side eye? You know that look that says, “I feel like I should enjoy this, but I just don’t know.” Something about it appeals to you, and yet you realize it has a 50/50 chance of being the best or worst thing you’ve read in awhile.

Us too.

…we would solve this “Should I/Shouldn’t I Buy This” dilemma once and for all. By reading the free samples of these questionable (but possibly brilliant) novels and telling you whether or not we want to keep reading.

We are three avid readers, sometimes writers (some of us more than others), and brain candy novel junkies (because real life has got enough trudging our fictional lives should be fabulous distractions). And we decided, for shits and giggles, one day that we would solve this “Should I/Shouldn’t I Buy This” dilemma once and for all. By reading the free samples of these questionable (but possibly brilliant) novels and telling you whether or not we want to keep reading.

Here’s how it works: We pick a book that the three of us agree does indeed seem… questionable. And then we each download the sample, read it, and tell you about it and whether or not we bit the bullet and bought the full book. And then we leave it for you to decide if this is your next great distraction or a dud.

The Book That Started It All: The Unlikeable Demon Hunter

The Unlikable Demon Hunter, By: Deborah Wilde, 2.35 US/2.99 CA, Goodreads Rating: 3.85, Sample Size: 2 Chapters (+)

What It’s About: The Unlikeable Demon Hunter by Deborah Wilde is a interesting entry into the urban fantasy, paranormal romance genre. Instead of getting a cute, sane protagonist, we’re treated to a loud mouth, foul, and perfectly seedy 20-something Nava Katz. The story opens up with her sneaking back into the family home after a night of partying and sex. Nava thinks she’s in the clear when she disturbs the initiation of her twin brother into a Jewish Demon Hunting society going back to the days of David and Goliath. The ceremony goes awry and instead of Ari becoming the Demon Hunter, we get Nava as the chosen one. And of course, everyone thinks she’s doing it on purpose, when she’s really not. In the end, she takes off and sets out on her own, determined not to take on the “Demon Club”.

Why I (Megan) was stuck questioning it: Amazon recommended it to me and I know they tell us not to judge a book by it’s cover but you know we all do it, and this definitely has a catchy cover. What really drew me in though was that it looked like it wasn’t just more of the same old, same old — I’m a sucker for innovation. Plus I really liked the irreverent tone of the book blurb “Odds of survival: eh. Odds of having a very good time with Rohan before she bites it: much better.”

The problem was I felt confused about the core plot, if her brother’s had to train his whole life for this how can she somehow end up with it. Huh? I know that’s meant to be a hook but sometimes hooks also scare people off. So I decided to skim the reviews, but that didn’t make my decision any clearer.

Aside: our review reading rules are to read what the 3 star raters have to say as the 3s are often the most balanced between pros and cons and therefore the most helpful in indicating if we would like it.

Despite the title clearly telling us that Nava is going to be unlikable, the reviewers seemed to really dislike her. Like, really. With a lot of complaints particularly focused on how crude she was and her apparent propensity for talking about her vagina (personally, we’re pretty neither here nor there on how much a character should be allowed to talk about their vagina), but the review comments that really stood out and pushed this book into the “questionable” category was that multiple reviewers mentioned they thought the author had been trying too hard with her main character. Hmmm…

What to do. What to do.

Naturally, what we did was form the Brain Candy Book Club, downloaded the sample and read it (as you do). We did this for you. For science. And because we desperately needed some new brain candy to distract ourselves with…

“Really, a twenty-year-old shouldn’t have had to sneak. But then again a twenty-year-old probably should have kept her last menial job for longer than two weeks, so I wasn’t in a position to argue rights.” Deborah Wilde

Jaymi’s Take:

This sample does have a lot of sex talk and a few steamy sex scenes. Of course it does. Nava’s young and out to get laid.

I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into when I signed up for this project. Heck, I barely looked at the reviews or the description.

Wilde’s writing is fun and crisp. Much of the narration sounds a lot like what I’d say because I’m rather brash and harsh, just like Nava. If you like your fiction sprinkled with pop culture, you’ll love The Unlikeable Demon Hunter. From the sample selection, there’s a lot of Harry Potter references and a few other references. Wilde’s descriptions are fresh and it’s easy to draw you into the whole world. I also liked how Wilde brings in world building and information on the Brotherhood at the same time. It’s a refreshing way to propel and tell at the same time.

This sample does have a lot of sex talk and a few steamy sex scenes. Of course it does. Nava’s young and out to get laid. She’s not interested in demons, hunting, or holding down a steady job yet at all. So she does what every North American college age does. Gets drunk, flirts, and screws. If this is a taste of what is to come, I’m assuming the story ramps this up from here.

Overall I’d give The Unlikeable Demon Hunter a YAY, it seems clever enough to read through.

Megan’s Perspective:

I am giving extra points for Wilde’s way with building rich mental imagery out of her words.

When I first perused the reviews of this book I felt like I was going to find a whiny, unthinking, annoyingly immature character with little to no personality or redeeming qualities. But instead of finding an annoying for annoying’s sake character, even within just these two chapters, I can see that there are real reasons that Nava behaves the way she does and I can see that the unfolding of her whys is going to be a big part of the story arc. If Wilde is trying too hard in making this arc congruent it doesn’t show in the beginning of the book. All I see here is smooth movement and what reads like quality writing so far.

But is the character overly crass? Well, she doesn’t talk about her vagina once in the sample. She does, on the other hand, talk about her tits multiple times (mostly within logical context) and about a cock (also within context), so if you aren’t ok with a good dose of sex (that is not described colloquial terms) in your books then this might bother you. But I’m fine with it as long as I know what to expect going in.

I am giving extra points for Wilde’s way with building rich mental imagery out of her words. “…he resembled a Shar Pei with a Dumbledore bread…” almost made me laugh out loud, while I knew exactly what she felt like when she said, “…cracked my chest open for the black pain to slither in.” I found a few editing errors at the pace of one or two per chapter, but combined with the calibre of the writing that’s easy enough to overlook (for now).

I was also relieved to see that how the untrained, bumbling sibling could accidentally steal her brother’s place was explained. So far it makes sense, though it may become truly annoying as the story unfolds depending on whether Wilde writes it as if Nava is the first female called, or if she decides the sexist idiots have just been ignoring all the female children all along. The only way to find out is to read it.

YAY — I actually can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Cricket’s Thoughts:

She’s irreverent, smart, precocious, ignored, and barely out of her teens. That’s a rough combination and she’s doing the best she can with her situation.

See, Nava Katz has been told all of her life that she’s not It. She’s not the “chosen one” and she’s barely worth paying attention to, frankly. Her brother — who does happen to be the chosen one — is about the only one who cares what’s going on with her. When you’ve got a family situation like that, you’re bound to act out a bit, and Nava definitely does that.

Our heroine is only 20, I feel it’s worth pointing out. A couple of the reviews mentioned she’s “juvenile” or something similar and I’d have to agree, to an extent. She’s irreverent, smart, precocious, ignored, and barely out of her teens. That’s a rough combination and she’s doing the best she can with her situation.

With all of this in mind, Nava is suddenly expected to fall into line when she accidentally takes her twin’s place in his initiation into the Brotherhood. To say she’s not prepared is one massive understatement. It’s also the first major conflict of this novel and possibly the series, depending on how well and how quickly she adapts. This new job of hers is going to force her to reevaluate her irresponsible, irreverent life thus far and what she does from there is what’s going to be important.

The writing is whip smart and really draws me in. There is far more showing than telling and that makes Nava’s story work well for me. Because the interior monologue and the dialogue flow so well, I had the sample read in only a few minutes. When I don’t have to slog through painful exposition and damaged dialogue, the pages fly and I’m transported into another world.

All in all, this is a solid YAY for me. The negative reviews don’t seem to have a leg to stand on from what I’ve read so far and the writing is enjoyable enough that I’d dive into the rest of this novel happily.

So, Should You Buy It?

Absolutely. As long as you are not opposed to a little erotica and realistic sexuality (as opposed to the overly sugary or sultry stuff you find in most books) mixed in with your character driven brain candy then you are probably going to love this book.

And hey, if you decide to take the leap, make sure you circle back around to tell us what you think.

p.s. Do you have a book you just can’t decide if you should bite the bullet and buy that you’d like to see us take a look at? We’d love to hear about it, put it in the comments below.

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