Sunday 16 October 2011

Review: Where Demons Fear To Tread by Stephanie Chong

Where Demons Fear To Tread was a quick, easy read, but I don't think angel books are really my thing.

This is only my second foray into angel-related lit, and I haven't particularly enjoyed either time. My first encounter was with Melissa de la Cruz's Blue Bloods series, which I was drawn to because it was supposedly about vampires - but they turned out to be more fallen angels who happened to drink blood. This time 'round, I was curious to read about the forbidden romance between an angel and a demon in Where Demons Fear To Tread. While it kept me turning the pages and I liked the characters and their romance overall, I found that I didn't really love it. I've been trying to figure out why that is, and I think that it comes down to the plot, and the angel aspect in particular.

Although Serena St. Clair is a "non-denominational" angel, the story by its very nature has religious overtones. Serena, the inherently good guardian angel, spends a lot of time fearing "falling" and being sent to hell, while Julian, an archdemon, muses over his own sins and contemplates the (im)possibility of redemption. Not being particularly religious myself (I'm agnostic, if anything), I found the focus on the "sinfulness" of one's actions (as opposed to just differentiating between right and wrong), and the threat of hell as the main deterrent for those actions, a little exasperating. This was especially the case with Serena and her concern that being with Julian would cost her Heaven (literally). I guess for me, personally, I don't buy into the whole sex is sinful thing. While this is addressed to some extent in the book, the majority of it is spent agonising over the fate of one soul or another, and it got quite tiresome.

As for the characters, I liked Serena and Julian well enough (though I felt Julian was the stronger of the two in terms of character development), but the secondary cast (and, by extension, the secondary plot) were rather weak. Nick, Serena's superstar assignee, seemed to have good looks going for him and not much else, making me wonder why he was even worthy of a guardian angel. Meanwhile, Luciana, the demon responsible for Julian's corruption, was hellbent (no pun intended) on revenge on him for reasons that were never explained. Really, it should have been Julian who was after revenge, not Luciana, and so the whole driving force behind all the action made little sense.

Chong's writing was fine for the most part, but there were a few steamy scenes containing words (and one or two actions) that were a bit off-putting. Y'know, the kind of words that just make you go "ew", or "well, that's awkward", instead of "oooh yeah!". There was one scene in particular, that happened quite early on, where Julian sneaks into Serena's room while she's sleeping, and it almost made me stop reading. I mean, it was creepy when Edward Cullen did it, and all he did was sit there and watch Bella sleep. Julian is not one who just sits backs and watches, if you know what I mean. So it was a little too... well, rapey for my liking. Now, nothing major happens and maybe I'm being oversensitive, but touching somebody's body, without their consent, WHILE THEY'RE UNCONSCIOUS, is just not cool (or hot) in my books. That aside, I did enjoy Julian - and the book - but I don't think I'll be continuing with the series.

Rating: 3/5

Spoilery Talking Points
  • I felt Julian's turnaround from archdemon to angel happened way too quickly. I know the whole book is leading up to it, but it was almost like a switch was flicked and all of a sudden he was ready to be all divine instead of devilish without having to struggle at all. It made the ending overly sweet and a bit unbelievable.
  • I have a theory that Arielle, Julian's first guardian angel, is actually his mother. I could be wrong, but the fact that she spent so much time trying to "save him", combined with the passing mention that his mother had been watching over him the whole time, makes me think Arielle had more invested in him than was explored in this book.
Eye Candy
This is probably a sign that I watch way too much Chuck, but I pictured Yvonne Strahovski as Serena and Matt Bomer as Julian.

Fine Print
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Published: 2011
Publisher: Mira Books
Source: NetGalley
Get It: Fishpond


  1. I'm not a huge fan of angel books for the same reasons. They are usually way too religiously skewed for me. Plus the ever present all seeing factor takes all the romance and suspense out of things. Great review Belle.

  2. OMG! That picture of Matt Bomer... WET! *dies*

    And yeah, I'm totally familiar with that 'well, that's awkward' feeling. It's always very unfortunate. I really can't recall one single angel story that has blown me away, which is why I mostly avoid them.

  3. @Lan - Thanks! Glad I'm not the only one that feels that way.

    @Missie - Isn't it so freaking hot?! There were so many gorgeous pics of him, I had to restrain myself. Perhaps one for MBB... :D

  4. I'm reading an angel book at the moment (Evercrossed), and like you it's one of my first in this subgenre (although I have about half a dozen in my review stack--a new trend, I'm guessing?). I think it's very hard to get away from the religious overtones, and though the one I'm reading is solid enough, it's a bit off-putting to have the religious stuff hovering all the time.

  5. I have quite a few in my TBR pile, too. I think angels are the new vampires or something. I might give one or two more a go (Daughter of Smoke and Bone has had good reviews, and I've also heard Hush, Hush is good - I'm guessing it's an angel book from the cover)... but yeah, don't think it's really my thing.

  6. You should read Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone! I'm a religious person, but I don't like most of the Angel-lore books out there because they are always, off ... mostly for the same reasons you stated. However, I enjoyed Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

    Also, was not a fan of Hush, Hush, but I think that had to do more with the storytelling than the plot.

  7. That's interesting Shanella, thanks for sharing your perspective! I'll have to check out Daughter of Smoke and Bone.