(Cover picture courtesy of Salacious Reads.)
QuiTai, ruthless concubine of Levapur’s mysterious crime lord, the Devil, receives an unexpected invitation to cocktails with disgraced Thampurian Kyam Zul. She doesn’t trust Kyam enough to drink anything he pours, and won’t help him no matter how hard he begs – or threatens. But when QuiTai’s ex-lover is murdered, Kyam is the only one who knows the name of the killer, and he won’t tell QuiTai unless she helps him first.
The torpid back alleyways of Levapur’s tropical colony hide more than lovers. There are things with claws, beings with venomous fangs, and spies lurking in the jungle.
Most of them want to keep their secrets.
One wants QuiTai dead.
[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
I am seriously in awe of this book. Not only is it well written with amazing characters and a fast plot, but it also takes place in a fantasy world that’s not based on Medieval Europe! Instead, it’s based upon a tropical island culture with elements taken from both island and Asian cultures as well as some European ones.
QuiTai is now one of my favourite characters—ever. Considering how many books I read a year, that’s saying something. She is amazing! Sensual, manipulative, complex, intelligent, ruthless and at the same time, loyal to her conquered Ponongese people. Words can’t even do her justice. She’s such a strong woman but at the same time is seriously flawed when it comes to her lust for revenge and her distrust of people in general. Seeing her interact with the intelligent, snarky, disgraced Thampurian Kyam is fascinating especially when she becomes attracted to him. Trust me on this one though: she doesn’t fall in typical love and it certainly doesn’t blind her like it does other narrators.
I can’t get over Jill Braden’s fantasy world. It’s a little hard to get used to at first, but when you learn the backstory of Levapur you really appreciate how much detail she put into it. The Ponongese people, which seem to be almost human-snake hybrids have been conquered by the ‘sea dragons’, Thampurians. Thampurians can shape shift into a sort of fish, which I think is really cool. On top of being a colony to the ruthless Thampurians, every full moon the Devil’s werewolves lurk around threatening the populace even though QuiTai does her best to keep the island population safe from the werewolves. The dynamic between the Ponongese people and the Thampurians is ever-changing and full of tension and clearly demonstrates that Jill Braden actually understands politics.
Kyam and the Devil, much like QuiTai, are more complex than they actually seem. Each one has hidden motives that aren’t immediately apparent even to the suspicious QuiTai. The Devil seems to be your stereotypical crime lord who runs the island, but when we learn the real power behind him you can’t help but laugh. This real power also makes sense because of how the first book ends, but I can’t go into any more detail than that.
The plot is fast paced and Jill Braden constantly throws in plot twists to keep you on your toes. Even the characters themselves throw you off sometimes because just when you think you know their motives, their true motives are revealed. Especially when it comes to QuiTai as we slowly learn more of her backstory and how she came to be the Devil’s concubine. These plot twists are mostly unexpected, but they actually make sense within the story and are part of the greater politics of Levapur (especially when it comes to the island’s colony status). I guarantee you won’t see the ending coming; QuiTai has a revelation that will truly shock you.
The Devil’s Concubine was so good that I can’t wait to read The Devil Incarnate, the next book in The Devil of Ponong series. If you haven’t already read it, give The Devil’s Concubine a try. You’re pretty much guaranteed to love it.
I give this book 5/5 stars.