Demon Hunter Academy is the first novel in the Infernal Rending Universe by Traci Lovelot.
Finished on: 16.11.2022
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]
Content Note: ableism
Nimue is looking forward to graduating soon and become a demon hunter just like the rest of her coven. When a new tear to the infernal realm opens, Nimue follows her three coven parents and her coven brother there, hoping to see a demon for herself. And she does, but she has to watch the demons kill her entire family and take her arm – and with it her magic. Devastated and traumatized, Nimue finds a place with Rye, her coven’s healer. She also finds hope in Fox who is specialized in material magic and promises to craft her a new arm. And she finds a sparring partner in Lan who helps her catch up on her studies. But Nimue knows she can’t be at peace until she avenges her family.
Demon Hunter Academy is a good mix of fantasy world building and sexy romance. The pacing was a little off, but other than that, I really enjoyed it.
Demon Hunter Academy is set in a rather intricate world and comes with a bit of a glossary at the beginning – this might be a little off-putting for some, but I can promise you that it’s not that important and it’s easy to catch up with events and how the world works, even if you only skimmed the glossary or don’t read it at all.
For me, the thing I struggled most with was not the world-building, but the speed of events. I was often confused how much time had passed between two events. For example, at first I thought that graduation was like only a few weeks away for Nim, but then it was month? I was also a little taken aback at the speed things went from “this dude is hot” to “let’s be a coven together”. That is something I often struggle with in romance novels, but here it came with the added confusion of not actually being sure how much time had passed. It just felt like things went way too fast. Plus, I’m not a huge fan of a plot where the dudes decide what’s right for the girl, and of course they are right about that.
Nimue herself is understandably in a bad spot after watching her entire family die, so I didn’t mind that she was abrasive and a bit of a mess. Quite to the contrary, I felt that the book went to “and all is well” a little too quickly. It feels like Nim is asked pretty much immediately to make peace with her new situation and I felt that she would have needed more time for grief.
That being said, I really liked the idea of covens which basically make polyamory standard in the witches’ society. And I liked all three of Nimue’s guys. It is understandable that she liked them all as they all bring something very different to the table. That Fox and Lan are bi and into each other, too, makes things even sweeter, if you ask me. All four of them had excellent chemistry and the sex scenes were pretty hot (I actually thought that there would be more of them, kind of disappointed that there weren’t).
I also really liked that Nim (and later Fox) are disabled – we need more disabled characters in novels! Unfortunately, the way their disabilities were handled were not ideal as they’re quite literally magicked away – a trope that is pretty ableist as it seems to suggest that being permanently disabled is unbearable and should be eliminated. It makes being disabled as something to overcome by any means necessary. Plus, their is a line during the great fucking at the end which is basically “even though they were each missing a limb, they could still feel joy”. Ugh, is all I can say to that.
From what I gather, Demon Hunter Academy is basically the prequel to the core trilogy that centers Mel who is Nim’s protégé and gets introduced at the end of DHA. Other than that, the novel stands very much on its own, is almost compulsively readable and very enjoyable.
Summarizing: nicely done.