Dick is a demon in disguise, working as a demon hunter for K.I.S.S. — Keepers of Incantations, Spells, and Sigils. It’s a surprisingly easy job. See a demon, catch a demon, kill a demon, do paperwork. The paperwork is the hardest part of Dick’s job. Keeping his secret from the human he works with is the second-hardest part. Number three on the list would be the loneliness. He can’t exactly cozy up with demons, and he can’t reveal his true nature to humans; when an ex-girlfriend leaves him a three-legged cat as a pet, it’s the second best thing that ever happened to him.
The best thing would be finding Gin.
Gin is a fairy prince who happens to be missing. His sister, Poppy, hired Dick to find her brother … but once he does, Dick doesn’t want to let go. Telling Poppy he has her brother safe and sound means the job would be over, so to keep things simple, Dick doesn’t tell her. That’s one problem solved. Then there’s the haunted hotel, the demon in the elevator of the haunted hotel, the fact that Dick has to enter and win a pinball tournament, the Rift between the demon world and the human world about to open again, a dead troll in the local library, and the fairy prince can’t seem to use magic. By the end of the book … some of these questions will be answered.
So. This story is the first in the Demon Tales and Fairy Games series and … it’s all over the place. Dick is a demon who isn’t like other demons, and who’s very fond of describing himself. He’s also the exposition source for the story, info-dumping history lessons, and detailing the differences between fairies, demons, trolls, and humans. And for all that he’s supposed to be in charge of finding the missing prince, Dick doesn’t do much looking. He picks up Gin at a grocery store — following the pretty young man because he wants to take him home and to bed, no conversation needed — without knowing or caring who Gin is beyond available. Likewise, Gin, having seen Dick’s profile in shadow for a fraction of a second, already has an ache in his soul that only his mystery man can fill, but after the pleasant time they spend together in Dick’s bed, the sight of the hunter’s gun makes him all frightened and so he runs off rather than staying to talk.
Gin has been, this whole time, walking around town with no purpose. After the murder in the library, and knowing he’s being followed, he decides not to head home. After all, he might be leading people to his sister, his powerful, magical, fairy princess sister with her guards and attendants, and decides to just walk around the city for a few days. When he finally admits to Dick that he is, in fact, the prince Dick is looking for, neither of them seem in a hurry to tell Poppy that her brother, the one she’s afraid might be hurt or dead, is in fact neither dead nor hurt. Instead, they decide to play house.
And then there’s the hotel, the pinball tournament, the question of whether Gin actually has magic — or if he’s just hearing voices — and the cat, Axel, who destroyed Dick’s magic supplies that let him pretend to be human. Two of these issues will be resolved. The other two are ignored. There are a lot of offhand mentions of small plots and big ones, like the Rift, that are never addressed. They either happen and no one seems to care, or they don’t happen … and no one seems to care. At the end, when everyone has their mask revealed and no one — and I mean no one — is who they said they were or thought they were, again, no one seems to care. Gin doesn’t care, so long as he can still get dicked by Dick, and Dick wants to go home. I felt no chemistry between the two of them, and a lot of red flags, which ended the book on a very unsettling note for me. More in the spoilers:Also, the power disparity between them, of Dick providing a home and income while Gin just rolls over for the sex, and that Gin wanting to have his own job and pay his own way is met with scorn and a “but you don’t need to” from the man he barely knows in any way but the carnal just rubs me the wrong way.
Both Gin and Dick — but especially Gin — make very suspect decisions. For example, Gin, knowing he’s in a haunted hotel (that may or may not have a demon, a creepy maintenance man in the basement, and a manager who hates him) keeps going back to the spooky basement. Oh, there’s always a paper-thin reason. During a party, he decides to go looking for more champagne in the haunted basement rather than the kitchen, knowingly wandering into the place with the ghosts and maybe demons who want to kill him.
In the end, maybe half the plot threads are dealt with, but overall, there’s just too much left hanging. And they were arranged in such a way that, for a large part of the book, I had to keep trying to figure out what was going on as the story’s focus kept shifting. Which thread was more important? Shopping at the old game store, having a tarot reading, or learning how to clean a hotel room? In the end, none of them really seemed important. The writing is heavy on the telling. No character is distinct, no plot point ends up feeling important, and I neither recommend this book nor wish to continue on with the next book in the series.