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3 out of 4 stars
Review by CataclysmicKnight
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Melhara by Jocelyn Tollefson is a wild ride of an adventure with a plot that kept me hooked from the first page that spoke of her terrifying dreams until the end. Kyra is a woman torn between the mysterious abilities she discovers at an early age and being medicated for them, forcing her to hide her true self. Alastor - a demon in Lucifer's own bloodline - is able to play on this inner conflict of hers by celebrating her strength and showing her just how much she can do. Despite reluctantly joining his side and the warnings in her dreams, she falls for Alastor and becomes enchanted by his plans. Often the villain of a story has a pretty weak plan, but Alastor's is brilliant in its simplicity - he and Kyra, an unstoppable duo, seek to cause utter chaos and turn good people evil by eradicating the government and the legal system, effectively creating a permanent version of The Purge.
Kyra and Alastor being so unstoppable would normally make for a cheap, unfair advantage, but Kyra's friends and family have something just as good. When Kyra reluctantly joined Alastor she made an ironclad deal with him that they be kept safe from him and any lackeys he may have. This essentially makes Alexis, Axel, Hailey, Nick, Iris, James and Xavier unstoppable as well, and they have a solid plan of their own. Kyra is the only one who can stop Alastor, and if they can just get through to her then good will prevail over evil once again. Alexis and Axel are also both powerful witches, able to pull plenty of tricks out of their own sleeves as well. It all comes together and makes for a unique, balanced battlefield filled with angels, demons and witches.
While the plot is unique and the sides are balanced well, it's the characters themselves I really felt could have used more polish. Most of the characters have their own moments to shine and let their personalities out a bit, but I didn't feel any of them were particularly strong. I would have loved more scenes where the characters could interact with one another beyond just furthering the plot.
Along with the characters, the plot sometimes seemed to progress just a little too fast. The action in the book wasn't always the easiest to follow and there were some really fantastic settings that are explored, but then they're barely touched upon beyond what's necessary. The book ends with lots more to do (although it IS effectively a solid ending for this book), and Jocelyn's Goodreads author page states that there will be two more books in the series, so I'm hoping these areas will be explored again.
Overall, however, Melhara succeeds on most fronts. I didn't want to put it down, I want to continue reading the series, the plot was unique and neither the villains nor the heroes felt unfairly overpowered. I also only found 3 grammatical errors in the entire book! These points all make it easy for me to give this title 3 out of 4 stars. I'd recommend the book to anyone who loves fantasy, angels vs demons, magic, a unique plot and chaos. It's worth mentioning, however, that there are a couple sex scenes in the book. While they're minimally explicit, it does make it so I can't personally recommend it to anyone under 18.
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