Azazel
by Dawn McClure, fantasy (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-266-4


It all begins when a bunch of souls manage to escape their fiery pit of eternal damnation in hell, breaking free to our world. Given that folks that end up in Hell tend to be of the unpleasant sort, this is not good news. These folks are now looking towards possessing a person with genuine psychic abilities in order to use this person to start a cult of some sort. This is where our hero Azazel steps in. Lucifer, or Luc, wants him to bring those souls back.

Alexia belongs to the faction of fallen angels that is different from Azazel's. Alexia belongs to the Alliance, an organization of vampires led by Ambrose, one of the original fallen angels, and the Alliance exists to take down bad vampires and naughty demons who work for Lucifer in creating havoc on Earth. Alexia apparently knows how to use an impressive array of weapons, she is also some kind of martial artist, and her list of enemies who never survived an encounter with her is pretty long indeed.

Which doesn't explain why she instantly morphs into this person who is constantly being bested by Azazel when they meet, sigh. It's not that he is more capable than her, which would be fine, it's just that she begins to become stupid. For example, when she first encounters Azazel, she is too lost in her thoughts to notice him, and everything goes downhill from there. I won't be so disappointed by this if the author hasn't spent considerable time building Alexia up to be the hardest-kicking ass-kicking heroine ever. As Alexia and Azazel fall into an uneasy partnership of sort in order to save the day, she begins to lose her composure, gets nervous and jittery in an "Eeek! A spider!" manner when she enters places like cemeteries (and making me hurt by telling me how safe she feels with Azazel being around her, ugh), panics at the sight of an enemy, becomes a liability in moments of danger... good lord.

If Ms McClure is going to play by gender stereotypes, she really shouldn't have taken the time and effort to convince me that Alexia is a tough heroine. Alexia isn't, not even close, so I end up feeling really cheated by the end of the day. Azazel is a decent hero and the story does have some pretty good moments. I also believe that I can get to like this world that Ms McClure has created for her story. How can I not, when Lucifer is a big fan of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan, heh? But I can't overlook the fact that I was led to believe that the heroine will kick butt when she ends up being a stereotypical feisty heroine who is all talk but no bite. My disappointment is big enough to affect any enjoyment that I may otherwise derive from this story.

Rating: 73


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