Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Devil's Metal by Karina Halle

(Devils series, book 1)
It’s the summer of 1974 and 21-year old Dawn Emerson has only three things she wants to do: compete one last time in the Ellensburg Rodeo, win back her ex-boyfriend Ryan, and become the best damn music journalist at Central Washington University. But all her plans are left in the dust when she’s contacted by Creem magazine to go on the road with one of her favorite groups, the up-and-coming metal band, Hybrid. 

At first the assignment reads like a dream come true. Not only will Dawn land some much-needed credibility as a female music journalist, but she’ll finally get to experience life from the other side of the stage, and maybe crack the drunken, enigmatic code that is guitarist Sage Knightly. Instead, Dawn finds herself on an aging tour bus filled with ego-maniacs, band politics and a whole lot of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. When monsters start showing up in dressing rooms and some of Sage’s groupies become increasingly strange and dangerous, Dawn discovers the band is not only going places – they’re going straight to Hell.

And Dawn has a backstage pass.

*I was given an ARC of this book for review on The Indie Bookshelf. I have tweaked this review a little bit from the original…*

Sex, drugs, and rock & roll; that’s what this book is about. Oh, did I forget to mention demons? Yeah, throw some demons in there, too. Intrigued? Yeah, that’s right, you should be. The Devil’s Metal is an absolute trip that will leave you feeling like you were right there on the tour bus with Dawn, Jacob, and Hybrid experiencing all the highs (literally) and lows with them. Karina Halle perfectly captures the 1970’s lifestyle and uses extensive, but not overbearing details to paint a picture of life during the bellbottom-wearing, Quaalude-popping, rock and roll era. I’m a late 80’s baby, so I never experienced the rock & roll, hippie, Woodstock craziness of the 70’s, but this book made me feel like I was going through the motions right along with Dawn; from living on a sweaty, dirty tour bus to watching the shows backstage to being surrounded by a cloud of pot smoke in the middle of the concert crowd. Karina knows how to paint a picture, no doubt. She also gets a couple extra points in my book for the several Led Zeppelin references (they are one of my favorite bands), and a reference to Lawrence, KS (home of the KU Jayhawks!!) Yeah, I’m a nerd and get excited about things like that; don’t judge me.

There is an omnipresent hair-raising factor that casts a shadow over the entire book that will make you always feel like something just isn’t right; there is just always something or someone that is a little off. There is quite a bit of foreshadowing that leads you to believe maybe the band knows exactly what’s going on and they just aren’t telling Dawn, like this line for instance: “We all lost our souls when we joined this band…” Hmm…do they mean that figuratively or literally?? However, even with all the hints and foreshadowing, the cause behind everything happening isn’t super obvious; Karina picks the perfect moment to pull you out of the dark and bring to light the reasoning behind all these strange happenings…and strange is putting it mildly. I mean, it is just a big bucket of crazy topped with a nice, heaping pile of WTF?!

Karina does a wonderful job of giving each character their own, very distinct personality traits. It’s obvious she spent a great deal of time developing each character into their own, which makes it so easy to love these characters. Well… some of them. The relationship that forms between Dawn and Sage is slow moving, ridiculously teasing, and eventually crazy hot; the friendship between Dawn and her best friend, Mel, is heartwarming, hilarious, and in one particular scene, gut wrenching. One of my favorite lines of the whole book actually comes from Mel when she’s referring to Dawn’s ex-boyfriend: “He’s good for sloppy kisses and cherry popping and looking slammin’ at our prom.” That line makes me laugh every time! Dawn’s relationships with her Tourette’s-ridden brother Eric, Jacob, and the other members of Hybrid add to her likability as well.

The end seriously gave me chills, and I'm pretty anxious to read the sequel. I don't believe this is classified as YA, and most of the material really isn't appropriate for young adults; there is sex, drug use, profanity, and some pretty scary stuff, y'all. The only paranormal books I had read previously involved vampires, werewolves, things like that; I can't remember reading a book that involved demons and all that other freaky jazz that showed up in Lake Shasta, but I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed that different aspect of paranormal craziness. I'm not big on horror because I'm a big baby, but this book had my interest from almost the very beginning. If you want to read a dark, paranormal, creep-tastic novel with a little romance and a lot of rock & roll on the side, check out The Devil's Metal; it'll take you on one Hell of a ride...

Not available for purchase through Barnes and Noble

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