Kathy's Reviews > Demon Marked

Demon Marked by Meljean Brook
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's review
Jul 11, 2012

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bookshelves: demon, fantasy-romance, enhanced-human
Read from July 28 to 31, 2012

** spoiler alert ** Setting: Nightingale House; Caelum; headquarters in San Francisco

Revenge, power of love, sacrifice, good vs evil
Aschenputtel ‘Ash’ – a Halfling – could have been a Guardian, but broke a bargain with a demon which sent her to hell… and after 3 years of the ice torture, Lucifer carves his runes in her, binding her to Madelyn for obedience and to open a portal between hell and the world – and Lucifer carves out her memories of herself. When back on earth (with tattoos/runes carved over half of her face/body), Madelyn places her in an asylum – and for 2 years she doesn’t speak… then one day, in therapy, she has a tiny memory of heat, pain, an ugly man, and someone calling her name, Ash…. (something)… and it signals some recovery… she is talking, she is studying the people around her, she is processing… her doctor writes ‘no affect’, and she asks what it means – (having no visible emotional response)… and she starts to have some strange things happening (her clothes disappear and then reappear, her eyes glow red)… and she decides it is time to leave the asylum… she breaks into the doctor’s office and reads everything he has written about her… she has a memory of Madelyn St.Croix dropping her off at the asylum – so for a month she studies the people she comes across, and she does research on Madelyn, her son, and her assistant…
Rachel Anne Boyle – Madelyn’s assistant… made a promise to help Madelyn with her son (not knowing it was a demon bargain)… a genius with growing money… she gets involved with Nicholas, loving him… and when Madelyn shoots Nicholas, Rachel jumps in front of the bullet and dies… then they both disappear.
Madelyn St. Croix – a demon, who killed Nicholas’ mother when Nicholas was young, drove his father to suicide after ruining his good name, and taunted Nicholas, making his life hell.. it took him awhile to figure out his mother wasn’t his mother… she took over the family business, and at 16, when Nicholas arranged to stay with his grandfather, she let him go…
Nicholas St. Croix – as an adult, Nicholas has decided for revenge… (for things like killing his dog (demons can’t kill people, but they can animals and trying to make him feel guilty for not good enough care of the dog) taking over his demon mother’s company… and he wines & dines Rachel as part of his strategy. He has spent 3 years trying to relocate his ‘mother’ and what happened to Rachel… He kept their apartments monitored in case… he was aware someone broke into Rachel’s apartment 3 weeks earlier, and is at Madelyn’s place. He is cold hearted, he had regard for Rachel, though did not love her they way she loved him – revenge is his life – his business only to finance his revenge.
Michael & Taylor – angel/Guardian & human, who sacrificed herself and was selected to be a Guardian, but somehow gets too tied to Michael, taking in his soul/power while he is trapped in hell with Lucifer… at first she could visit him, but no longer as he is protecting her from the evil Lucifer is perpetrating. Taylor doesn’t particularly like Michael (but is there more underlying?)… but she does want to help him…
Summary –
So… Nick snags Ash when she goes into Madelyn’s bedroom… at first he’s startled when she looks like Rachel, but Ash does not argue with him – and then he tazers her (one way to stop a demon temporarily) – she shifts into demon form, and he shackles her. And hence begins their partnering… he makes a bargain to help her find out who she is, if she’ll help him find Madelyn – he mistrusts everything she says but at the very least believes she’ll be bait to draw Madelyn out.
The more time they spend together, the more he questions his assumptions – she seems innocent, she doesn’t seem to know demon things (that she can fly, how to fly, controlling her eye color or fangs, to be fearful of the Guardians, etc.) that doesn’t reconcile with demonology.
They go to see Rachel’s parents, but when they get there, they have already been murdered – and though Ash has no memory of them specifically, she is thrown into grief – Nick soothes – a demon shows up, they are not too effective in fighting the demon – Guardians show up and take down the demon, and they escape… He takes her to his remote, paranoid grandfather’s mountain cabin…
They get closer… He teaches her some self defense… she asks many questions about demon’s bargains, and how to get around them… she doesn’t sleep, and keeps the cabin heated all night, as it staves off her memories of the cold (memories that she doesn’t quite grasp)… some things are familiar (like driving) and when exposed to them she can do them… other things she knows are brand new… and she is growing – in knowing herself, in understanding people, in understanding Nick… and when he scares her to get to her demon instinct, she applies that logic to flying… when Nick is busy cutting wood she climbs up to the top of the highest tree, and jumps – and her wings to appear, but she does not have knowledge of how to use them, and she falls to the ground (scaring Nicholas)… and she is hurt by his lack of trust (still believing, or at least wanting to believe that she is telling lies). And then a few days later, they hear one of the wolves that they’ve heard over their time there crying in pain. She tells him she’s going to check it out… he lets her go… and a few minutes later realizes that he trusts that she would not harm the animal, that she was going to see if she could help – that he not only trusts her but also loves her… she returns with a dog with an injured leg… they go into the cabin… he takes her to the bedroom and starts to make love to her… but then the dog is making noise, they go out to the other room, weapons are gone, there’s a knock at the door, and the dog is in fact a hell hound and Taylor and another Guardian are there…

The Guardians have figured out she is a halfing, and new part demon, and therefore has the capacity for good or evil – they go with them to the San Francisco headquarters, and begin her training and trying to figure out how to free Michael & get Madeyln… They read her tattoos, and realize that she is probably under Madelyn’s control – and then also see that there is the formula on how to release someone from the ice – that can be adapted to free Michael, but which would require her to sacrifice herself… they decline… but Madelyn calls (pretending to be Nicholas), and she must go to her… she leaves enough clues without going against what Madelyn has instructed her to do – so that they know she is in trouble… Nicholas is there with a grenade from a Guardian – and the Guardians leave him to handle things… Madelyn orders Ash to kill Nicholas… and somehow they manage to get Nick close to Madelyn (through word trickery) and he detonates the grenade, giving his life to save Ash… and allowing the Guardians to ask him to join their ranks… (he says yes)… and through a bit of manipulation, but also through their desire to get Madelyn and do good, they agree to help get Michael free… and they succeed, though Michael’s form is that of dragon – he’s still not quite there… hmmmm
And Nicholas and Ash marry and….

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