What's better than watching a demon slayer do his job? Watching a demon slayer do his job... under the watchful eye of the Church. Yup, Jesse is back, and badass as ever. In the fifth novel in the Jesse James Dawson series, A Line In The Sand, author K. A. Stewart pits our favourite (if slightly immature) hero against his toughest challenge yet. Where I found the previous novel to be a little slow (but no less enjoyable), that was not the case with A Line In The Sand. The action is steady all the way through, lives are lost, and it comes readily clear that Jesse's hardest battle is ahead of him. A fantastic novel leading up to what I know will be a hell of a conclusion.
|I definitely pictured this image at more than a few points in the novel. Great cover!|
AN ACT OF FAITH
Jesse James Dawson is a husband and father who never intended to be the guardian of 275 extra souls, or to find himself in the middle of a demon war. When that war comes right to his front door, endangering his family, he is forced to seek aid from the last people he ever wanted to ask: the Catholic church and the priest sent to protect him, Cameron.
The Order of St. Silvius is made up of warrior-priests, operating out of its home base in Vatican City. The holy order has been facing off with demons for centuries. In a city as ancient and steeped in magic as Rome is, a few centuries is plenty of time to hide a few secrets, and what Jesse and Cameron don’t know could get them killed.
From the onset, it's clear that this is going to be a grittier novel that its predecessors– since Jesse's home and family are attacked in the opening couple chapters. Having the equivalent of a spiritual nuke living under your skin has repercussions, after all. Jesse is forced to leave his family for their safety and find a way to free the souls from their prison inside him, a journey which brings old allies together and draws him to Rome.
I loved the new setting and a deeper look into the Order, since they haven't been big players in the previous books. I liked how the situation became dire every time the souls messed with Jesse's head. The plot was great and while I did make a big prediction that proved out to be true in the end, there were a lot of twists and turns that I didn't see coming, especially revolving around my favourite punk-ass demon, Axel. Think you know everything about him? Think again. Man, oh man, that was crazy.
The action was well co-ordinated, particularly regarding the last fight. Having said that though, (minor spoiler ahead) I was hoping that there would be more follow-through with the second half of the fight. I might be just saying that because I like watching Jesse kick ass, but I'm also a huge fan of underdog fights when the odds are massively stacked against the protagonist, particularly when it follows a heartbreaking chapter where he realizes what he has to lose (End spoiler).
The characters are as wonderful and well rounded as they've always been. I thought Cameron was sweet and Sveta was as intense as ever. But, as always, Jesse stole the show. Jesse's a big kid at heart (part of his charm), and it was painful to see him make sacrifices for the greater good. From the way the story finished, it's clear that Jesse's humour and temperament will continue to change, and while I'm all but praying for a happy ending for him and his loved ones, it's hard to tell what Stewart's plan is. After all, Jesse's been having a dream that is sending off all kinds of warning signals for me, and making me believe he's being set up for an ultimate sacrifice.
Of course, I could just be overreacting, and all these broody vibes I've been sending out should in no way discourage you from reading one of my favourite book series'. In fact, I'm going to come right out and say that A Line In The Sand could be my favourite novel in the series so far. It's endearing, exciting, and fun from the first page, and if you haven't checked it out, you don't know what you're missing.