Hiding places are scarce when both Heaven and Hell intend to find you.
Dani Fayel’s backbreaking job as a stable hand at The Freaks’ Fair isn’t glamorous, but for someone looking to keep to the shadows? It’s perfect. Neither paranormal freaks nor human norms ever notice her. But when Dani is forced to either let a child die in order to maintain her anonymity or choose to save him and risk being discovered, she finds herself unwillingly thrust into the spotlight.
Cain, Hell’s premier assassin and a predatory incubus, is close to fulfilling his final contract and earning his freedom. Hired by the Archangel of Death to find his daughter, Cain follows her trail to the Fair. He works undercover, certain his mark is inside one of the portable canopies or traveling cages. Dead or alive, she equals his ticket to freedom.
When Cain’s objective is divulged, Dani realizes she can’t outrun her destiny. As the fabled Key—the one soul with absolute free will who is tied to the three realms of Heaven, Earth and Hell—only she is capable of opening the gates for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Whoever frees the Horsemen allegedly commands them. Now both Heaven and Hell are vying for her allegiance, and there are no limits as to how dirty they’ll fight to obtain it. With Hell raining indiscriminate chaos as Heaven maneuvers its players around her, Dani realizes her would-be assassin may be the only man capable of helping her survive.
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First off, many thanks to Inkslinger PR, for providing me a copy of Raising Cain in exchange for an honest review.
Kelli Ireland has created an all new and unique world for this story to take place in. In this world paranormal people and creatures are out in the open, even if they are in the minority. You get the sense that they feel like a people apart, especially the people Dani lives with, the people in the Freak’s Fair. (I don’t love the name, but I get how the author is demonstrating how the “norms” see the paranormal) Is the author drawing comparisons with the paranormal people in this book and a real social group? Like the gypsies, or people who are in the circus in this world? You get the feeling that the paranormal people allow the norms to call them freaks for profit or out of a sense of there’s more of them than there is of us. You could draw the same comparisons many social groups within our own society.
Dani is hiding. She has been hiding for years, ever since a blood test came back with “significant abnormalities”. Her parents disappeared when she was a 8, but Dani has no idea why. Forced out of her foster home, Dani has been on the run from the government ever since. You see, Dani has a very unique heritage. People like her (that the government can’t identify or classify) often find themselves invited to visit a facility that they can’t get out of. With her blood, she should have some pretty potent powers, but Dani considers herself a null, not nearly as gifted as someone with her blood should be. She can see death when she touches someone with her hands; meaning, she can either see how that person will die, or how death will affect them in some way. She has made herself a home in The Freak’s Fair, a traveling circus of paranormal attractions. She’s been there for six years. She has isolated herself, even within the fair, even from her own people, because she cannot touch anyone without the curse of knowing their death. She works in the stables with the mythical creatures. As the blurb above tells us, one day she is forced to expose her powers when she rescues a child from certain death. Her boss Khavien (a dhampir) immediately tries to maximise her money making potential, telling her she has to become a fortuneteller for him if she wants to remain with the troupe. That sounds cold when I say it, but really her boss seems to care for her; he’s just miffed that she won’t tell him “what” she is.
He assigns Cain, a newcomer to the Fair, to be her bodyguard. (No, not the Cain. I thought that too.) They have a major reaction to each other right from the start, which causes Dani to want to cut and run for the hills. Cain picks up on all of the lust she is projecting and is curious about her, also trying to find out her secrets. They clash hilariously, their dynamic is funny to watch. He’s a predatory incubus, so he uses (or can use) sex as a weapon. I can just imagine Dani side-eyeing him in suspicion every time he opens his mouth. Her power is whacky around him, it’s like he’s triggered something inside of her to start up, or kick into overdrive. Not long after they start working together strange things start happening around Dani. She dreams of her parents, who are telling her it’s time to come to them. At first in the dream she only sees them, but then the scene pulls back and she realizes there are in Sheol (Hell). At this point Cain has told her that he is looking for the Key, which she and everyone else dismisses as a child’s fairy tale. Neither one of them suspect that she is the key at this point. If she is the only one who can control the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, then I’d say Hell just got in it’s first bid for her allegiance.
The night after the dream, her eyes start glowing. She is confused, since if she was going to develop a trait like this then it really should have happened years ago. The eyes show her father’s blood in her, which only makes Dani fear more, and she finds her strength has increased as well. Her heritage is revealed to Khavien when he feeds on her in an emergency, despite her warnings. Her angel blood causes burns on him -in him -I imagine that hurt like hell. So her secret’s out to her boss at least. she calls a blood donor for him, and heads back to her trailer, only to be jumped and beaten by a demon in the form of a man. They are interrupted by Cain - the demon backs off when he sees Cain. She and Cain have sparks flying between them, but neither one is willing to make a move at this point: she is too afraid, both of herself and him, he says she is a complication that he doesn’t need, because he’s here on a mission to find the Key.
Another demon shows up in her fortune telling tent the next night, mocking Cain, telling him that he is letting a nice piece of ass get in the way of his job. Cain dispatches the demon, then he takes Dani back to her trailer and demands to know who her parents are. She evades, and he gives her 24 hours to tell him before he says he will force it out of her. The next morning she is summoned - and is dragged - to a meeting with Khavien, who she hasn’t seen since the whole blood incident. He demands to know where she comes from too. He really does deserve to know, she she almost killed his ass with her hot lava angel blood. She finally does tell him that her mom was a banshee, and her dad is the Archangel of Death, named Samil. Khavien tells her a piece of news that almost knocks her out of her chair she is so suprised - her father was cast out of Malkuth (heaven) and is now royalty in Sheol. He tells her that she’s the legendary Key, and that Cain was sent to find her, and deliver her to her father. Dani pleads a case of mistaken identity - she can’t be the key, there’s nothing special about her! Nevertheless, Khavien tells her that the demon that attacked them last night was sure to report back to Samil of what he found. It’s just a matter of time before before all hell will literally break loose there at the Freak’s Fair. He tells her she’s got to run.
She escapes the Fair, only to be attacked again by the demon from the night before. Cain catches up to her in the nick of time and rescues her. He is dangerously pissed at her for not telling him everything. He’s not taking any more excuses from her anymore. He pulls into a parking garage, where they fight. She tries to run from him and he grabs her, tells her that she better hope he’s right about her and throws her off the top of the garage. She manages to save herself with a shocking transformation that is one of the best scenes in the book.
Dani and Cain are on the run after her transformation. They are attacked at every turn, beginning a harrowing cat and mouse game, with demons literally coming out of the woodwork trying to get to Dani.
Cain tells her that her contract has been upgraded to an EOS - Execute on Sight. Hell is taking no chances: they want her soul in their possession, asap. Dani wants to know what Cain intends to do, but he’s not talking. He’s way too close to her to do what he’s supposed to do, that much is obvious. I have to notice though, for all of hell trying to kill her, I don’t really see any representatives of heaven trying to help her either. Cain is under pressure of his own: his own indecision over Dani has gotten the attention of his superiors. Cain is attacked by something unseen that slices him open and carves the word “traitor” into him. He yells to Dani to get out before he is teleported away. Now on her own, Dani drives out into a blizzard, running blind.
She is far from safe, and it’s just a matter of time until heaven and hell collide in a battle for her free will. With both sides playing to win, Dani must face the truth: she is the Key; and that heaven and hell are just differing shades of gray.
Ruin of Souls, the second book of this exciting series will come out in December.
Kelli Ireland Bio:
Kelli Ireland spent a decade as a name on a door in corporate America. Unexpectedly liberated by Fate’s sense of humor, she chose to carpe the diem and pursue her passion for writing. A fan of happily-ever-afters, she found she loved being the Puppet Master for the most unlikely couples. Seeing them through the best and worst of each other while helping them survive the joys and disasters of falling in love? Best. Thing. Ever.
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