“A life lived by another’s book is no life at all.”
Three hundred years ago, fate bound Prosper Redding and Prince Alastor of the Third Realm together. Now the human boy and fiend heir to the demon kingdom must put aside a centuries-old blood feud to save everything they love.
Alastor will guide Prosper through the demon realm—under one huge condition: Prosper must enter into a contract with the malefactor residing in him, promising eternal servitude in the afterlife. With Prosper’s sister in the clutches of the evil queen Pyra, Prosper has no choice but to agree.
But when they arrive in Alastor’s deliciously demonic home, the realm is almost as alien to Alastor as it is to Prosper—the lowest fiends have dethroned the ruling malefactors, while an unfathomable force called the Void is swiftly consuming the realm. The desperate fiends cling to the one person who says she can stop it: Pyra.
As Prosper embarks on a perilous rescue mission to the Tower of No Return, he can’t help but feel for the demons losing their home—even Alastor, who lives by a set of rules that have vanished in a new world.
With the fates of humans and demons at odds, the battle lines are drawn. Long ago, Prosper’s ancestor Honor Redding proved that humans and demons could never be friends. But is Prosper like his ancestor? And is Alastor the same demon who was betrayed by the one human he cared for?
CW: body horror, gore, violence
Before I dive into this review, I must tell you all of the unspeakable tragedy that befell me whilst reading this: my beautiful signed hardcover copy is a misprint.
I ended up buying the ebook because when I got to page 187, it went back to 155, and then where 187 should have been again, it was at 219. A printing error, of course, one fixed by getting the ebook, but a tragedy nonetheless.
A moment of silence for those lost pages, possibly wandering around in the wrong spot in someone else’s book. 😞
But now that we have that out of our system, AAAHHHHHH!!! Please go read this book (and check for misprints around the middle, if you’re feeling wary buying/borrowing a hardcover copy). It’s just as good as the first book, and actually brings everything to a close in incredibly satisfying ways. Prosper gets to grow, Nell gets another chance to be the witch she’s scared to really be, Alastor is maybe now 3% good instead of only 2% (he’s still a conniving turd, don’t worry), and the family history of the Reddings comes ever closer to the light, bringing the entire story full circle in a way that had me grinning through the final pages.
And yes, our favorite CatBat is back. I love Toad. He’s a very good boy, no matter what size or shape he is (though he is, of course, best in the shape of a fuzzy black cat with BAT WINGS).
Also, the action really ramps up. There was some moments of slow, mundane reality in the first book that dragged just a little bit, but now that we’ve charged headlong into the Downstairs, everything has picked up the pace. We get to explore all the gruesome corners that Alastor once called home, and we finally get to meet a whole host of fiends. There’s also the question of who’s in charge, who’s doing the right thing, and who’s going to be responsible for bringing this all to a conclusion. It’s tense in all the right ways!
Well, except one. I loved seeing Prosper wrestle with the nature of his character, especially in relation to Alastor, but the whole point of going to the Downstairs is that Prosper wants to rescue Prue, and…we just don’t get enough on Prue. As an older sibling, I get the pull of charging in to protect your siblings, but we barely know Prue beyond her brief appearances, and it sucks away a little of the worry we should be feeling for her well-being. We worry because it’ll crush Prosper to lose Prue, not because it’s going to crush us too.
And I suppose I also had some issues with how Prosper’s grandmother was handled in this book. Maybe it’s because of the tense relationship I have with one of my grandmothers, but I really disliked the way it was presented that his grandmother was always right, all along. It doesn’t excuse the way she controlled everyone and everything, or the way she’s always made Prosper feel small and insignificant.
But other than that, the character arcs of this book were wonderfully compelling, and I really did feel for our main cast, even grouchy Alastor, who is mostly a jerk but a little bit okay, and maybe on his way to being truly better. Maybe. I also loved the change in setting, and the way the stakes really came to a head. It felt like a proper way to close the duology without it falling flat OR feeling too overblown. It was just the right amount of drama for a story about humans and demons and the terrible and wonderful things they’re capable of doing.
This really is a series to read if you want to mix Halloween-type goodness, preteen snark and silliness, and the wickedness of demons tempered by the stubbornness of humans. It’s a ride that’s fun from start to finish, with distinct voice and full characters, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys paranormal books, especially ones that are MG or early YA.
So, have you read the Prosper Redding series? Who’s your favorite fiend? And if you haven’t think you might pick it up? If only for the adorable CatBat, I beg you, give it a try! He’s a good boy, even if his name Toad, a terrible name. But perhaps that’s a good name among CatBats?