This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for Soul Crossed, hosted by YA Bound Book Tours.
Soul Crossed was written by Lisa Gail Green and first published in 2015. It is a paranormal romance story that focuses on the forbidden love between an angel and a demon. It is the first book of the Of Demons and Angels series and its sequel, Soul Corrupted, is expected to be released later this year.
Sixteen year old Josh is not overly surprised when he finds himself in Hell. He has lived a life of sin – drink, drugs and general debauchery – and so there was no way that he would wind up anywhere else. Although most sinners find themselves in eternal torment, Lucifer shows an interest in Josh and offers him an alternative. The Antichrist has appeared on Earth in the form of a teenage boy called Cam and Lucifer wants Josh to push the teenager further into a life of unforgivable evil.
At the same time, Grace awakens to find herself in Heaven. Her life has been tragically cut short by a drunken driver and she initially has trouble adapting to her new state of being but is offered a chance to see her family again. If she becomes an angel and uses her abilities to save the Antichrist’s soul, she will gain her wings and permission to use them to visit her parents.
Their missions quickly cause Josh and Grace to cross paths and they soon find that they are attracted to one another. However, this makes things even more complicated. It is forbidden for an angel and a demon to be together and pursuing such a relationship has serious consequences. Added to this is the fact that only one of them can claim the Antichrist’s soul. If Josh fails, he will face the wrath of Lucifer and the tortures of Hell. If Grace fails, it could mean the end of all life on the planet…
Soul Crossed is a curious novel and is definitely one of the more effective paranormal romances that I’ve reviewed so far. One of the common problems that I find with novels of this sort is that they lack any kind of binding story-line. Many paranormal romances seem to get bogged down by the relationship between the protagonists. The story just starts to melt into a string of examples of why they are a perfect couple – dates, misunderstandings, mild sexual tension – and ceases to have any kind of flowing plot.
This was certainly not an issue with Soul Crossed. I found this novel to be very easy to read due to a combination of Green’s fluent written style and the constant threat of the Antichrist. Josh and Grace never get so engrossed with one another that they forget their respective missions. They know what terrible things will happen if they fail and are sensible enough to ensure that they remain focused on the task at hand.
For me, it is the character of Cam that makes this story compelling. He is an incredibly complex sociopath, showing different personalities depending on his audience. He is sweetness and light whenever he is with Grace, obediently following her to different places of worship as she tries to teach him forgiveness. However whenever he is alone with Josh he shows a much darker side. Cam is a violent sadist, taking out his frustrations by torturing small animals.
While I did sometimes think that Cam went a little too far (not even Lucifer is portrayed as being chaotic evil in this story), his increasingly vicious actions caused the tension to ramp up to a thrilling climax. The book contains many twists that I genuinely did not see coming. When I started reading the novel I was somewhat disappointed as I believed that I had deduced the twist by the end of the second chapter but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I can only sussed out the tiniest piece of it. The twists of the final quarter of the story came one after another and felt incredibly satisfying, even if some of them were a little on the cheesy side.
However, the story structure was not perfect. Personally, I found the chapters to be a little on the short side. This was especially problematic towards the start of the novel as it prevented me from growing attached to the protagonists. The chapters alternate between Grace and Josh’s perspectives, sometimes switching every couple of pages. These breaks also contain skips in both time and location which made it all the more jarring. Weeks could pass between two chapters and so it was difficult at first to see the chemistry growing between Josh and Grace because so much of it happened off page.
Although the short chapters seemed to grow less irritating as the story progressed, the romance still failed to captivate me. Don’t get me wrong – it could still be very sweet at times and I certainly did want to see the two of them get together in the end – but it just seemed a little too clichéd for my liking. The forbidden romance between a creature of light and a creature of darkness has been done roughly ten thousand times before and this story did not really approach it in a new way. The many references to Romeo and Juliet also made this seem especially clumsy. It was impossible not to see similarities between this play and Soul Crossed and because of this the repeated quotations just seemed very heavy-handed.
In terms of characterisation, I thought that this novel was very strong. I’ve already mentioned Cam but he is only really the tip of the iceberg. My favourite character in the novel was Lucifer. I really did like the way that the author portrayed him – classy, calm and capable of inflicting horrible pain with a glance. The fact that he could not lie was also compelling, as it added an element of “be careful what you wish for” to the story, making it was always fun to see how his bargains would backfire. Ms Alvarez (Grace’s angelic mentor) was also a character that kept me guessing. Although she seemed kind at first, she grew increasingly pushy and strict as the story progressed, leaving me curious to find out exactly what made her tick.
The primary protagonists also have a lot going for them, as both are sympathetic and likable teenagers. While I did like Josh a little more (demons just have more fun than angels), Grace was also very interesting in her own way. Although she could be very naïve, it was nice to see that she did not entirely conform to Ms Alvarez’s ideas of what it was to be an angel. In fact, even Hell seemed to be preferable to Heaven at times. Although Heaven was a paradise, it still lacked the one thing that Grace wanted the most – her family – and so ironically became a kind of a Hell for Grace. This gave her a depth that a lot of angels in fiction are lacking – there was far more to her than just a pretty face and holier-than-thou attitude.
Anyhow, I’m starting to ramble so I think I should wrap up. Soul Crossed is a very addictive read that I would recommend to any fantasy fan. Although the opening chapters seemed disjointed and clumsy, the story soon picked up pace and began to build to a gripping climax. The characters in the story were also very strong and memorable, even though the relationship between the two protagonists felt unoriginal and heavy handed at times. I really enjoyed this one and am looking forward to reading its sequel later this year.
Soul Crossed can be purchased as an eBook on Amazon.co.uk