Title: Killing Rites
Author: M.L.N. Hanover
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Black Sun’s Daughter (Book 4)
Publication Date: November 29, 2011
Format: Paperback, 367 Pages
ISBN-10: 1439176345 (Pocket Books)
ISBN-13: 978-1439176344 (Pocket Books)
Reviewed by: Sheila
Jayné Heller has discovered the source of her uncanny powers: something else is living inside her body. She’s possessed. Of all her companions, she can only bring herself to confide in Ex, the former priest. They seek help from his old teacher and the circle of friends he left behind, hoping to cleanse Jayné before the parasite in her becomes too powerful.
Ex’s history and a new enemy combine to leave Jayné alone and on the run. Her friends, thinking that the rider with her has taken the reins, try to hunt her down, unaware of the danger they’re putting her in. Jayné must defeat the weight of the past and the murderous intent of another rider, and her only allies are a rogue vampire she once helped free and the nameless thing hiding inside her skin.
Quick & Dirty: Our heroine discovers the differences between good and evil, and all the grey areas in between the two. This book has lots of theological and philosophical debates followed by good ole-fashion demon fighting.
Opening Sentence: “So Miss Jayné,” Father Chapin said, pronouncing my name correctly: Zha-nay.
When I started this series, I had no clue why it was called the Black Sun’s Daughter. After the three prior books, this is the one that finally answers my question. So you may ask yourself, who is the Black Sun’s Daughter? Why, it’s Jayné’s demon, of course. Yes! So many questions have been posed throughout the series and now we get some of our long-awaited answers.
Jayné has always known that there was something different about her. She can fight, without really knowing how. She heals faster. She has powers that no one else does, and that has been giving her an edge in the war she and her team are waging on the demons. Up until now, Jayné thought that these “gifts” were wards placed on her by her deceased Uncle Eric. After the last big fight at Grace Memorial Hospital, she has another hypothesis: she is demon-possessed. Jayné and Ex go to Ex’s former mentor, Father Chapin, for conformation. He offers to exorcise Jayné’s demon and save her eternal soul. But while at the Father’s place of operation, Jayné notices that there is something not quite right going on there. She senses another demon attacking her during the demon banishing ritual, but no one believes her. Jayné must decide whether to trust her fate to Ex and his former colleagues or come to an agreement with her own demon, Black Sun’s Daughter, and fight the unknown one terrorizing the priests and the people they have helped.
Jayné’s past experiences have led her to be cautious around true believers. Her faith in God has been tainted by her family. Now, she is forced to rely on these priests and their ideals to save her. But this doubt she has for religion lets her view the entire situation with more than just blind faith. She recognizes that there are shades of grey in good and evil, and is willing to accept that her demon may not be as bad as she once thought. Father Chapin disagrees. When Jayné starts to have second thoughts about being exorcised, the priests believe that the demon within her has taken over. They are not willing to listen to anything that Jayné has to say, including her hunch about another demon hanging around. Will Jayné be able to get the priests to realize the true danger around them before it is all too late?
Ex is a former Jesuit priest that trained in exorcisms for years before he left. Now that he has returned to the same men that he trained under and fought alongside so long ago, Ex falls into his old patterns of obedience. He truly believes that Jayné must get rid of her demon but he fails to take into account her change of heart. Ex’s past and the reasons he is no longer a priest are revealed. He sees his chance for redemption for past failures in helping Jayné. He gets caught between his loyalty to the men that taught him everything he knows and the woman he has grown to love. Can Ex let go of his past? Or will the failures that have haunted him for years be doomed to repeat themselves?
Jayné knows that she will fight for what she feels is right, but is she willing to do it alone? In going off with Ex, she left everyone else on her team behind. Now that Ex is siding against her, she must find proof of the extra demon alone. Oddly, the only one she can rely on is another demon; the one inside her. Black Sun’s Daughter is child-like in her interactions with Jayné. Even though she can do some serious damage in a fight, she is still young for a demon. But the demon has never given any reason to want to hurt anyone; she just wants to live. Jayné must decide whether to give Black Sun’s Daughter a chance, or to kill her.
The arguments for the definitions of good and evil really do it for me in this book. Debating whether or not to base the right to life on if that creature has the capacity for evil; Jayné and the priests go back and forth on this point alone. Absolute is not a term that Jayné is comfortable with anymore, and it is a term that Father Chapin lives by. For most people, the philosophical topics discussed throughout the book are volatile. We all have opinions on good vs. evil and Faith vs. Atheism. Killing Rites explores these topics within Jayné and her particular situation. Can Jayné and the priests find a compromise, or will their feelings and ideals get in the way of an alliance against a common enemy?
Overall, this has been the best book of the series for me. Not only has the author answered long awaited questions about Jayné’s powers, he has presented her in a very realistic light. Jayné cannot remain unaffected by all that she has experienced so far and not question the pros and cons of being demon-possessed by something as unique as Black Sun’s Daughter. Jayné is a very strong and relatable character and I am eager to see what is in store for her future. Perhaps there is a future involving more of personal relationship with Ex? I can only hope.
“I thought you came here to get rid of it.”
I thought about that.
“You’re right. I did.”
“But that changed,” Alexander said, and let his lead fall back against the pillow.
“I guess so.”
“Chapin shouldn’t have accepted you,” Alexander said with a sigh. “No offense meant, but this was a bad idea from the start. The old man screwed up.”
Ozzie whined, her leg twitching as she chased dream rabbits. The television next door switched to the deep, authoritative voice of a news announcer. On the bed, Alexander folded his hands over his chest. The urge to defend myself was like an itch. What was wrong with me? Why shouldn’t Chapin have taken me on? But I knew. I’d come out of fear and desperation, but I didn’t believe the things Chapin and Alexander-and Ex-did. I had once, or almost did, anyway. But I’d come looking for a cure to a disease. What they had to offer was redemption from evil. The two looked the same if you squinted, but I was starting to think they were really pretty different.
“What do you think he took the case, then?” I asked. “My keen fashion sense?”
The Black Sun’s Daughter Series:
FTC Advisory: Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books provided me with a copy of Killing Rites. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. The only payment received came in the form of hugs and kisses from my little boys.
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