Chronicles of Nick: Inferno by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin, April 2014. Trade paperback of 451 pages at $9.99. Hardcover edition issued in 2013.
The cover: A young man wearing dark jeans and a leather jacket is partially shown reacting to something to his right. Having the character like this on the cover is clever as it immediately sparks interest in the reader as to what is going on, which might have them pick the book up and turn to the back to see if the hidden foe is revealed. It’s not, but the premise for the book is. Very clever book design by Elsie Lyons. The photograph of the model was taken by Colin Thomas, and the ornate medallion surrounded by ancient runes, which is aflame, was illustrated by Cliff Nelsen. An impressive cover that gives the flavor of the book without revealing anything about the story. Overall grade: A
The premise: From the back cover, “Nick has his driver’s license and he’s not afraid to use it. But turning sixteen isn’t what he thought it would be. While other boys his age are worried about prom dates and applying to college, Nick is neck-deep in enemies out to stop him from living another day. No longer sure if he can trust anyone, his only ally seems to be the one person he’s been told will ultimately kill him. But life spent serving the undead is anything except ordinary. And those out to get him have summoned an ancient force so powerful even the gods fear it. As Nick learns to command and control the elements, the one he must master in order to combat his latest foe is the one most likely to destroy him. As the old proverb goes, fire knows nothing of mercy, and if Nick is to survive this latest round, he will have to sacrifice a part of himself. However, the best sacrifice is seldom the sanest move. Sometimes it’s the one that leaves your enemies confused. And sometimes, you have to trust your enemy to save your friends. But what do you do when that enemy is you?” This follows the typical young-hero-unable-to-trust-anyone-including-himself motif. I’m interested in seeing how Kenyon does this. Overall grade: B
The characters: Nicholas Gautier, known as Nick, is a typical high school boy from a poor, single mother home. The twist is his father is a Malachai, a direct descendent of the ultimate demon (author Kenyon neatly tiptoes around this being Satan), and is fated to kill his father, embrace the power that comes with being the uber-demon, and destroy the world. This is obviously more stressful than acne or dating. Why isn’t he hell on wheels 24-7? He’s been raised by mother, who was horribly abused by his father, Adarian. He doesn’t want to be like dad. His devotion to his mother is strong, and after meeting her it’s understandable–she’s a great character who’s devoted to her son and broken inside by her ex. Nick is really whiny, with the book often going to extreme lengths to give his thoughts. He dwells on things so much I got bored with him being alone and was thrilled when someone else was around he had to talk to. Caleb Malphas is Nick’s friend at school who is a demon that is bonded to Adarian. He has to do everything daddy demands, which, for now, is to protect Nick. He is a very interesting and torn character who really likes Nick, but will kill if told to, and will do anything to kill Adarian, which would break his bond to his “master.” Nekoda, “Kody,” Kennedy is Nick’s girlfriend. They’re a good couple, but she’s actually assigned by “powers” to kill Nick if he goes bad. Nick learned this in the previous book and feels torn: he loves her, but doesn’t trust her. She only appears in the beginning and ending of the novel, and I wanted to see more of her. Nick earns money by working for two Dark–read “supernatural”–Hunters, Archeron and Kyrian. Picture the Winchester brothers from Supernatural, but filthy, stinking rich. It’s a nice twist that neither know that Nick is one of the creatures they would kill. There are other characters that appear briefly that are fun, like school teacher Mr. Graves, who is actually Death, aka The Grim Reaper, and they are well written. Only Nick was not enjoyable to read because his moping and indecisiveness was just a bore. This is an issue if it’s the book’s protagonist. Overall grade: C+
The settings: Present day New Orleans, but none of the locations you would expect. Okay, there is a high school, which is there in name but not in description, Nick and his mother’s low income home, Archeron’s expensive house with every accoutrement possible, and an otherworldly realm that is the most successful location. Saying where this is would spoil the last third of the novel, but Kenyon finally gives some great details there. Overall grade: C+
The action: There is some supernatural action at times, but there’s a lot of internal conflict more so than external. I needed more happening to Nick, than what was happening within him. I did get more of this in the final third of the book, but it was too little, too late. Overall grade: C-
The conclusion: There is a major death in the end that will have a tremendous impact on Nick, but it won’t be shown until the next installment in this series. I’m interested to see that, as it will change the lead’s character, but am disappointed it’s not in this novel. Overall grade: B
The final line: Intended for teenage girls that think Supernatural too intense or extreme, I can see how this would be entertaining, with a “bad boy” who’s trying to be good when everyone is out to get him. As an adult, I enjoyed the world created, but found the lead a boring mope. Overall grade: C+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.