rogue in the makingRating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel

Angus Donohue is reliant on the underground for his very survival. Since the void can’t be opened from Demonside, that is the only way he can get back to the human world and recharge himself. Otherwise, Demonside will drain him completely. But Angus knows that the underground, though seemingly better than the College of Warlocks, isn’t being entirely truthful. The more he learns about Demonside, and under the instruction of his demon Mage, Saka, the more Angus realizes just how bad things are. When the underground takes Terrance, Angus’s human lover, as a way to get Angus to behave, Angus knows just how far they’ll go. And he knows he has to do something.

Saka is facing unrest in Demonside and within himself. He knows that Angus wants to protect both worlds and right the wrongs that have been done, but he also knows that not all humans agree. More than that, his feelings for Angus have deepened further than he knows is wise. Jealousy flares and Saka’s feelings cause him to make some unwise decisions. Dealing with the consequences is not easy, and Saka doesn’t handle it well.

But as things come to a head in both Demonside and Humanside, Saka and Angus need to make choices that will affect them permanently. For Angus, the decision is easy—die a meaningful death as Demonside leeches his magic, soul, and life. But for Saka, he has to weigh the good of the tribe, the good of Demonside, and his feelings for Angus, and while the right choice is clear, it is not easy. But together, and with new allies, Saka and Angus finally have hope.

Oh, I have been waiting for this sequel to Warlock in Training for more than a year, and I greedily grabbed it up as soon as I could. Nichols has created such a facisntating and well developed world in this series, and I couldn’t wait to escape back into it and see where the adventure would take Angus and Saka next. This book is so much more than romance, though there are those elements (albeit in a somewhat untraditional way), but it’s about right and wrong, good and evil, and the balance of power.

The characters really drive the story here and their own struggles and growth throughout it make the book come alive. Angus is in a much more solid place now, and he’s learning to play the game so that he can do the most good, both in Demonside and in Humanside. I love that he’s come into his own and not afraid to stand up for what he wants and what he believes in. He’s not perfect, of course, as he’s still growing into himself. But the things he’s learned at Saka’s side have helped him develop and he’s not going to rest on his laurels.

Saka, too, has some learning to do. I really loved watching his struggles in this story as he fought to come to grips with his own feelings and what he’s always been taught. He had to really find a balance between the two, and I loved the way that mirrored the larger plot point of the world needing to have a balance.

Balance is the theme throughout the whole book, and I really liked how the author wove it into the main plot points, but really showed how each character had to find their own balance as well. As with the first book in the Studies in Demonology series, this book was incredibly well written, with the theme and characters seamlessly coming together to tell the larger story.

There were some points in the narrative, however, where the pace got a little bogged down for me. Roughly halfway through, the story started to lag a bit, and I was ready to move a little faster to keep up the tension of the book. The ending was also slightly abrupt for my liking. Yes, I knew it would end unfinished as this is part of a larger story, and I was glad to see it end on a hopeful note…because otherwise I would have seriously been unhappy. But at the same time, I would have liked just a little more fleshing out of the last chapter, or else something a bit more at the end to really make the ending solid. As it was, I was a little shocked when it ended and had to take a moment to process.

This book is another great installment to the series. The relationship between Angus and Saka is deepening, and the implications of that are huge. Angus is also having a relationship with Terrance, and it become clear he needs both human and demon for different reasons, just as they need him. I’m interested to see where that goes. But even more than the relationships, this series is about right and wrong, and the moral good, and I really can’t wait to see where the author takes these characters and this series.

A review copy of this book was provided by DSP Publications.

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