The result of an ancient attempt to save Earth from a plague of demons slumbers in the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology repository. The attempt failed. Demons walk the streets wearing the faces of humans, feeding on the life essences and sometimes the flesh of their unknowing prey. Aleksi, a young paleontology graduate student seeking only solitude and study, finds the long-forgotten specimen, and the ancient experiment begins anew. Dreams of dragons plague her sleep, and greedy eyes watch her discovery, lusting for the power she has unwittingly awoken. Can she contain the dragon within her, or will she succumb to the irrepressible temptation to feed?
Rather than a sequel to the first book, this second volume in the series is a different tale taking place in the same universe, featuring different characters.
The story evolves in a well-crafted crescendo, gradually building up in tension and horror right until the climactic finale. The main character is also brilliantly developed; the reader can easily relate to her, yet she has an interesting and convincing personality that also evolves with the story. The supporting cast of characters is also very good, and the villain is tremendously despicable, which works very well for the narrative.
The narrator is excellent, except perhaps when it comes to female voices. Male narrators doing female voices, or female narrators doing male voices usually don't bother me much, but this time, the narrator's deep and rough voice somehow made the female cast sound a bit silly. It's a bit distracting since the main character is female. But otherwise the narration was very well done.
If you liked the first volume in the series, or if you simply like modern horror or urban fantasy, this is a must read.
The Hellmaw universe is expanding. I can't wait to read the next book.
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