Home > Genre, paranormal, romance > Book Review: Hellsbane by Paige Cuccaro (Series, #1)

Book Review: Hellsbane by Paige Cuccaro (Series, #1)

Blonde woman standing near statue of an angel.Summary:
Emma Jane Hellsbane has always had the ability to sense other people’s emotions, and she turned that into a comfortable career as a “psychic.”  All that changes when the cute jock from highschool who mysteriously disappeared halfway through senior year lands on her doorstep with a clawed stomach.  She swiftly finds out that he’s a nephilim–half human, half fallen angel–and so is she.  Without intending to, Emma Jane finds herself swept into the war between the angels and the fallen, as well as attempting to pay off the debt for her father’s sin.

This was a classic case of not a bad book but I’m not the right audience for it.  I definitely don’t think the summary of the book that I read was quite as clear about the book’s Christian leanings as the one I just wrote for ya’ll.  If it was, I wouldn’t have picked it up.

What we have here is what I’m thinking is probably a new category of Christian fiction I was completely unaware of –Christian paranormal clean romance.  Now, I know at least two of my followers who would absolutely LOVE this book for exactly those reasons.  Alas, that’s exactly why I didn’t like it.

The Christian mores and doctrines have a strong presence.  We even go so far as to have Emma Jane come from a Catholic family but be an agnostic herself until hell and heaven literally show up on her doorstep.  As an agnostic myself, I found it rather patronizing to have an agnostic character proven wrong by flesh and blood angels and demons.  Y’know, like that would ever actually happen in real life? The whole scene just felt smug.  On the other hand, I could totally see as a Christian enjoying seeing someone convert from agnostic back to Catholic.  And yes, this book is heavily Catholic.  There is a lot of talk of saints and levels of sin and etc…  This of course means that there are things that I just don’t agree with (like the whole Emma Jane being held responsible for her father’s sin), but that’s only natural considering that this book is geared toward people who believe in those sorts of things.  Kind of like how I can’t stand The Chronicles of Narnia for similar reasons.

The fact that this is a Christian romance also means that there is ZERO SEX.  There is one pretty tame kiss.  If you want clean romance, this is your book, but if you’re like me it, um, is not.

The only thing that bothered me that I can’t chalk up to not being the target audience is the surprising lack of racial diversity in a book set in Pittsburgh.  Seriously, woman, I know there are black people in Pittsburgh!  And we’re not just talking oh the characters are white.  They all seem to be blonde-haired, blue-eyed white people.  This would make sense maybe in um….Wisconsin perhaps.  Not Pittsburgh.  Cuccaro really should focus on more diversity in her future books.

These things said, Cuccaro is generally a good writer.  The plot is complex, the characters well-rounded, and the sentences are well-written.

Overall, this book is well-written for its target audience–Christian, probably Catholic readers looking for some clean paranormal romance.  If this sounds like you, you should check it out.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Netgalley

Buy It

  1. February 14, 2012 at 7:01 am

    Hmmm your review of this book has me in completely two minds!

    I am a Christian and I LOVE The Chronicles of Narnia (you may have noticed my small homage in my blog title?) however I have quite a few problems with the religious rules especially Catholic ones. Like the example you used ‘responsible for her father’s sin’ that is a concept I completely disagree with and I’m not sure how comfortable I would be reading a book about that. On the other hand I probably would enjoy a book that portrays people converting to Christianity.

    So yes, completely confused! Maybe one to consider reading lol.

    • February 14, 2012 at 8:23 am

      I thought of you when I read it! (As well as twitter friend who is LDS who might like it). I do, however, think that the author has seriously limited herself with the absolute truthiness of the world the characters inhabit. (Like the children being responsible for their parents’ sins thing). So…I’m not sure? I’d be very interested to see what you thought of it since you’d be able to offer the Christian reader’s perspective.

      Btw, now that you have a kindle, you should definitely check out Netgalley. Lots of great ebooks available there in exchange for reviews.

  2. February 14, 2012 at 9:48 am

    I dare say that the view of Christians would even differ on the themes metioned above. We have the Catholics who believe in the saints and then we have the Bible-believing Christians or Charismatics as they are known here who believe in the existence of demons and the over-powering symbolism of Jesus as the true son of the Living God. To these people, (incidentally I belong here) Jesus has supreme power over demons. The concept of being responsible for her father’s sins is not acceptable to the Charismatics either. Even though we believe that God visits the iniquities of the fathers unto the generations of children unborn, it is the blood of Jesus, when you accept him as your saviour that will free you from these. These are my views and not a sermon, Amanda.

    In any case, I fail to see how this can be a Christian romance, albeit paranormal.

    • February 14, 2012 at 10:18 am

      Oh, I am well aware of the differences, since I was raised Baptist (with blips toward non-denominational and charismatic), but it’s difficult to address how, exactly, a Christian reader would react, since I became agnostic oh, wow, 6 years agoish?

      That said, Catholics are indeed Christians and from what I can tell (not being raised Catholic myself) it fits in well enough? That would depend on how much leeway the individual allows for flexibility in the mythos they believe in.

      Ahhh, these issues are all why I avoid books with Christian themes in general. I feel that Christian reviewers will be better able to properly review the book. I just accidentally stumble upon them sometimes when they’re not clearly classified. 🙂 Perhaps the problem with this book is that it is just too difficult to find an audience for.

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