Bottle Demon – Stephen Blackmoore

Urban Fantasy is my favorite genre ever. Seriously, read my bio and you’ll find out how much I love its tropes and how curious I am to see any kind of mythological creature interact with the modern world. Cue NetGalley, and me browsing for some new UF to read. When I found Bottle Demon, I wasn’t sure reading it was a good idea. Since this book is the sixth installment of an ongoing series, I was afraid I would not be able to understand what was going on. I asked for an ARC anyway, and I’m so glad I did! I’ll tell you why in a heartbeat, but let me show you the cover first.

After being attacked by a demon in the one place he thought he was safe, Eric Carter has been killed, his soul sent to take its place as a stand-in for the Aztec god of death Mictlantecuhtli. But somebody on Earth isn’t done with him, yet. Somebody with the power to bring him back from the dead. He doesn’t know who, and worse he doesn’t know why.

Between an angry death goddess, family secrets steeped in blood, a Djinn who’s biding his time, and a killer mage who can create copy after copy of himself, Eric’s new life looks to be just as violent as his last one. But if he doesn’t get to the bottom of why he’s back, it’s going to be a hell of a lot shorter.

I love how haunted Eric looks here, and the bottle at the center. It’s very fitting and it looks great. While we’re at it, let me tell you I loved Eric’s character. He’s jaded and he keeps telling himself he’s a bad person, so he gives a lot of hard-boiled style vibes, but in truth he’s… well, not a cherub, but he’s a decent, albeit scarred, person. In general, all the characters are great, from the villains to the secondary ones. I mean, what about the Ambassador, a character that is a sentient thing? It is brilliant.

Hey, since we’re at it, let me also express my joy for how all the women are portrayed. From Gabriela to Letitia, from Amanda to Santa Muerte, they are all badass. And it’s not because they fit the strong female character trope: they are strong willed, awesome persons (and a goddess). I can’t even begin to say how impressed I am by the characterization in this novel. It was such a pleasure to read.

The novel itself works perfectly as a standalone. I had no issues whatsoever figuring out bits of the events that led to this installment. Furthermore, this one made me very curious to know more about them, and I’ll buy the previous books for sure. The stakes are high, the plot very compelling. It works great. All the elements are there and, if you pay enough attention, you can figure out the solution along with Eric. I had lots of fun guessing and reading to see if I were right. And once I was done, I was left with ideas and speculations that made me look forward to following Eric’s journey. I have so many questions, and I want answers!

There are some memorable quotes thrown here and there. Most of Santa Muerte and Eric’s dialogues were great. Actually, most dialogues were great, and the final one between Eric and Gabriela… I loved how they both knew what Eric did was wrong but also necessary. What impresses me the most about this duo is that they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. They have to compromise and choose the lesser evil every time, and they’re willing to accept the price they have to pay for their actions.

A special mention goes to the Harry Potter reference I found. I’m always happy when I can spot bits of pop culture inside a book. Plus, I’m a huge HP fan, so it kinda made my day. What also made me squeal with joy (and wipe away one tear or two) was how immersive this story is. Here, I said it without spoiling anything!

Now, on to the only real issue I’ve had. I’m grateful for all the explanations because they helped me understand what Eric was dealing with, but I started to find them distracting once I had a good grasp of the previous events. That said, I think this book is an awesome read and I loved it to bits. For this reason and all the ones mentioned above, I decided to rate it 4 stars.

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