A Demon Bound, by Debra Dunbar

Literary rating: starstarstarstar
Kick-butt quotient: action2action2action2action2

While the cover image is certainly striking, I should mention that it is inaccurate in one significant point. At no point do I recall the heroine ever wielding a gun. While such false advertising would normally be a sore point, in this particular case, we’ll give them a pass – since the reason she doesn’t, is because she is simply too bad-ass to need one. For Samantha Martin is an imp: a demon who has chosen to spend a chunk of her substantial life-span (measured in centuries) among us mortals, rather than in the underworld. Why? Largely because it’s more fun up here.

Who needs guns, when like Sam, you possess a broad range of powers, including regeneration, transformation and the ability to manipulate energy? However, she has to be very, very careful about their use, because her kind is not supposed to be prowling the Earth at all. To prevent this, angels are continually monitoring for signs that indicate demonic abilities, and enforce the prohibition with extreme prejudice. A large, glowing sword may be involved. So, Samantha keeps her talents in check and manages her property business, or hangs out by the pool, generally keeping a low profile.

Things are rudely interrupted, however, when her hellhound returns home, much the worse for wear. Turns out he had got into a fight with a werewolf living on a nearby farm, whom Sam ends up having to kill. The local lycanthropes are not happy about this, and demand a service from her as reparation. Turns out a rogue angel, Althean, has been carrying out a one-man program of genocide against the werewolves, and they need someone to stop him. Unfortunately, Sam’s efforts bring her to the attention of Gregory, the angels’ chief enforcer on Earth, who is also on Althean’s trail – but is none too happy to discover Sam’s presence.

This was a tremendous amount of fun to read, mostly because of the heroine, who is unorthodox, to put it mildly. Foul-mouthed and unrepentantly immoral, Sam is a big fan of both sex and violence, largely bemused by human notions such as loyalty and affection, and treats our species as an amusing plaything, put on Earth for her enjoyment. Yet, over the course of the book, it appears there’s more to her than this. The fact she prefers Earth to Hell is just one of the various hidden depths which emerge, and we get to learn about the back-story of this struggle – not least that the angels and demons are not as far apart as either might prefer to think.

While Sam is clearly the book’s core, with it all being told from her first-person perspective, I also enjoyed Gregory and his conflicts. He has issues of his own, with some among his kind endorsing Althean’s murderous mission, as they believe werewolves to be Nephilim, the offspring of angels with humans, and deserving of extermination. It’s all surprisingly complicated, and I’m highly curious as to where the series goes. Credit Dunbar too, for telling a complete and well-rounded story here, albeit with an epilogue to leave the reader intrigued.

This is comfortably R-rated, since Sam has absolutely no problem with using violence, though most of it is against other supernatural entities. Not out of any moral scruples, however, just because we humans aren’t worth the effort! I’d love to see this made into a movie, though given her fondness for nudity – partly for practical reasons resulting from energy transmutation, partly to wind up the more prudish members of society – it would require a particularly broad-minded leading lady. In the meantime, I’ll certainly be investing in further installments of the Imp Series, of which this is the first volume.

Author: Debra Dunbar
Publisher: Inked Entertainment, available through Amazon in both printed and e-book versions.

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