The Demoness of Waking Dreams
by Stephanie Chong
Reviewed by Adria Laycraft
This book starts with promise. It opens in a delightful gothic setting of a church in Venice, where we are immediately drawn into the chilling suspense of looming danger with a conjuring of words like sacrifice, ornate, and bodice. How could a reader go wrong?
Unfortunately, things do go wrong.
Stephanie Chong holds five university degrees and lives in Vancouver, Canada. Her series, A Company of Angels, of which The Demoness of Waking Dreams is second, claims to 'explore the nature of good and evil' and a 'love that blurs the lines'.
Sure, opposites attract, and so Chong has decided to push the idea to extremes by having an angel and a demon fall in love, impossible love. There is some merit to this idea as a tension-filled romance.
Unfortunately I'm frequently thrown out of the story by the unlikely image of these great beings acting so helpless. They are called powerful, and occasionally they even tease the reader with small shows of power, but most of the story could easily be told without the angel/demon labels and nothing much would change.
In the romance, an angel detective has to capture a rogue demon. It seems so straightforward, but many of the character's choices don't make sense until later in the story, when the rules of this world are finally explained. These rules might be in the first book, but I feel it's a mistake to assume your reader has read each book in the series.
My biggest complaint is that the demons and their servants, called Gatekeepers (for no clear reason), are not very evil half the time, nor the angels very angelic. I guess I was hoping for some clear-cut, big show of good versus evil that could then be challenged when the characters make big choices later in the story. It didn't work out that way. Instead they all seem a little conflicted, just like humans.
While all the details for a believable ending are established early—that a demon may be redeemed and become an angel, this set up is left unfinished, as if to leave room for a sequel.
Add to that the prose problems, teleportation, overblown sex scenes, and rampant repetition, and I'm left disappointed.
"To truly seduce a man...you've got to get inside his head." Here is what I hoped would be our deepest theme, the idea that really getting inside someone's true heart and knowing them deeply makes a huge difference in the choices we make. There was promise here, too, but it was not used to its potential.
I like a good romance as much as the next girl, so my take is that this particular Harlequin left something to be desired.
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