This review actually covers the first three books: Blood Bound, Demon Divided, Fate Fallen
Two stars is all I can give this one. I enjoyed the characters but the story was a little rough. While I liked Sarah, her flippant jumping from boy to boy did not seem believable. She went from Ben, to Dev and Ray, to just Ray, to War.
This book almost lost me right from the beginning. Shaun and Sarah Gallows walk into a nest of about twenty vampires and kill them all as if it were child’s play. It didn’t seem hard for them. The characters were never in danger. The tension was zero. The only cost: vampire dust made Shaun cough. It got a little better and there were eventually some more difficult tasks that actually cost the characters more than coughing up vampire dust.
I eventually got into the first novel, if barely. Sharon hooked me more with Shaun than with Sarah. I identified enough with him to want to keep reading even though other parts of the book had me wanted to throw it out.
2-1/2 stars is a slight improvement from book 1. But again, book 2 was just barely good enough for me to keep reading too. I think the Shaun and Elle relationship really worked—that subplot made the least sense. The real plot was just a confusing mess. The repeated teleportation to Melissa’s house didn’t work for me. I found myself bored until Shaun actually fought Melissa’s Vampire father. Then all it took to destabilize Melissa was a single comment about how Melissa’s dad should have removed her curse but didn’t? Really? She got all emotional from that? I didn’t buy it.
I give this three stars, and Sharon once again showed improvement. I had a hard time believing Shaun was as stupid as he came across to start the novel. But I kept reading. I’m two books in and I’ve overlooked a lot of terrible writing already, why stop now right? This is like when you watch B-movies but you just can’t stop because they are so bad that you keep going.
This book showed a little more depth and character growth. Sharon exposed the magic system just a little bit more. The plot held more tension and there was a whodunit element to the novel.
The characters seemed to be in plenty of distress. There was less, though still some, random jumping around of characters. This time it was Ellie, not Shaun, who jumped around a little crazily.
The novel’s premise
Shaun and Sarah are fallen angles and basically Buffy-the-vampire-killer types. This is their story.
The books come with the following warning:
I thought that meant there might be a dozen f-words. Yeah. She used the word an absurd amount of times. The word “littered” in her warning is quite accurate, because the extreme amount f-words cheapened her story and became a major distraction, especially in book 2.
Blood Bound: 37
Demon Divided: 87
Fate Fallen: 41
Sexuality: There is sex, but it isn’t graphically described. Sarah and the demon/vampire have a sexual relationship. Shaun gets it on in the kitchen with a werewolf in book three.
Violence: Lots of violence. Plenty of blood and gore, though not always, for example vampires turn to dust when killed.
Blood Bound: Poor. I made almost 40 highlights and most were editing issues.
Demon Divided: Poor. I made almost 30 highlights and most were editing issues.
Fate Fallen: Poor but improving. I only made 21 highlights and most were editing issues.
It seemed there is a language barrier I had to deal with. Sure the book is in English but I live in the western United States. I couldn’t find details on where the author lives exactly but the novels are set in fictional Scotland cities. The language issues involved much more than just an extra u in words like color/colour. There were missing words in a lot of sentences and it was distracting. However, some sentences were repeated with the same missing word, making me think the word wasn’t missing but excluding that word is just a dialect issue. So I am left wondering if all my highlights are editing issues or language differences.
The dialog was pretty good as the character interaction goes, but the dialog formatting became a major distraction. The author needs to start new paragraphs between one character talking and going into a separate character’s view. It is one thing the exclude dialog tags, it is another to have what looks like a dialog tag actually just be the next paragraph and suggest the wrong person is talking. Below is an example where Shaun is talking and then immediately after the quote, she has a tag indicating it was Sarah talking.
Sharon Stevens needs better editing and a few more rounds of proofreading to clean up these self-published stories.
“I don’t know about that.” She sighed. (In this sentence, Shaun is talking even though Sarah sighed—I think.)
I found myself lost and having to re-read sections quite often. A few times, I never figured out what was going on and just moved on. As I write this I am still astounded that I actually finished these books.
Imagination and Uniqueness
It got better. The imagination was weak to start book one, but it improved over the three books. The world grows with her imagination.
Shaun is a pretty good character. He is a flawed protagonist. He is described as having a missing eye, do to a fight with werewolves that happened earlier in his life.
Sarah starts out as an invincible, annoying brat, who crushes on bullies. Not really likable. It took a while before I cared for her as a character.
She did a good job with Ray and Dev. Sometimes side characters blend together, but these two didn’t blend at all. They are different and easily identifiable.
Magic System (fantasy)
I am still confused about what can and can’t be done with magic in this world. If the author has rules, I haven’t figured them out yet. A few things are done well, such as Sarah and Shaun’s ability to release a spirit from this world.
I normally do poor, average, or high. But Sharon Stevenson was different and it was quite acceptable. She took a very plain text and completely featureless approach to formatting her eBook. The good news. It pretty much worked. Her books flow just fine. The simplicity prevented the formatting issues many indie authors face. She successfully pulled off not letting the eBook formatting get in the way of her story, which is most important.
Blood Bound, Book 1 has a very good cover. However, I thought the quality of the covers for books two and three were significantly worse. I think she needs to redo the covers for both books.
About the Author
Sharon Stevenson likes to read a lot and watches a bit too much horror. Here is a quote from her blog: