Professional psychic Lucky de Salle is having a bad week. Not only has a routine ghost-banishing job put her in the path of an immortal assassin, but now her lifelong ghost girl companion Kayla has been summoned back to the Underlands, the world of demons – sorry, daemons – where Lucky ends up embroiled in a power struggle for the king’s throne.
Marked feels like the sequel to a book that doesn’t actually exist. Right as it begins, Lucky is immediately thrust into a world weirder than the one she already inhabits, but this happens without first properly establishing what for her is – relatively speaking – normal. Thus, the first chapter having a shark-mouthed daemon unexpectedly appear where only a couple of rogue spirits should be loses its true impact.
Much of the revelations of the ongoing intrigue within Underlands, and also the nature of the magical realm itself, comes courtesy of Lucky’s two potential love interests; the handsome and noble angel Jamie and maroon-skinned bad boy death daemon Jinx. Comic relief comes courtesy of a little and large duo of Mr. Kerfuffle and Mr. Shenanigans, while rounding out Lucky’s quintet of companions is Pyrites, a dragon with the protective temperament of a loyal dog.
Jamie and Jinx are both seductive and alluring in different but equally appealing ways, but the fact that for the most part Lucky ignores their advances makes a refreshing change from the constant romantic dithering that blights so many fantasy heroines. Unfortunately, their refusal to give her any straight answers about what’s going on gets a bit frustrating, instead uttering only vague allusions to events and talking about her as though she weren’t there.
The history between Lucky and Kayla is apparent in their every exchange, and Lucky’s feelings of betrayal at her only friend lying to her for her entire life makes you sympathise with her anger over the danger she has been thrust into without her knowledge or consent. The developing relationship between the two now that the truth of their situation is revealed will likely be a recurring element of the series.
The attempts to justify the malevolent brutality of daemon nobility’s idea of entertainment by equating it to sadistic examples of human behaviour falls a bit flat. Okay, some of the more extreme of human atrocities might be kind of comparable, but that doesn’t actually offer any justification of why Lucky is somehow supposed to be okay with it.
Now that Marked has got all the character introduction and scene setting out of the way, hopefully the next book in The Soulseer Chronicles can build on its foundations and create something more compelling.
INFO: MARKED / AUTHOR: SUE TINGEY / PUBLISHER: JO FLETCHER BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW