Walter Alden is a mage who has failed his practitioner’s exam multiple times. He overthinks and his confidence is practically nonexistent, so his latent power doesn’t come through. But Wally has an insatiable need for knowledge and boundless curiosity, so working in the Magus’ archives is a good fit. Now, if only he could pass his exam and become a full blown mage.
Wally’s tendency to think out loud annoys the devil trapped in an orb in the archives. Beelzebub has been captive there for fifty years, and he knows more about Wally than he ever wanted to. All Bez, as Wally calls him, wants is to be free to once again cause havoc and death. When the archive is attacked, Bez gets his chance at freedom. But in the process, he is accidentally bound to Wally.
The threat against them is big, and Wally and Bez need to flee for their safety. What’s worse, they need to unravel the truth of who is behind the attacks and why in order to remain that way. While some of it is obvious, the real truth lies much deeper. And in the process of stopping the person at the root of it all, the connection between Wally and Bez only grows. Falling in love with a devil was never in Wally’s plan, but it just might save them both.
One of the things I really enjoy about M.N. Bennet’s writing is the world building. Here the author has crafted another well-detailed world that immerses the reader in an alternate reality where mortals have no idea the magical world exists; mages, witches, Mythics, and Diabolics are at odds and vying for power; and the only way to succeed in life is to snatch some of that power. I was drawn into the world from the beginning, and really enjoyed the two main characters.
Wally is a sweetheart, but anxiety and overthinking get in his way. He loves to research, and nothing will stop him on his quest for knowledge. But he’s been disparaged his whole life for his choices and his inability to master the Pentacles of Power, and so he has zero confidence in his abilities. In contrast, Bez is snarky and sometimes mean, even to Wally, and a blood thirsty devil who seeks vengeance. Of course, there’s more underneath his story, what makes him who he is, and he has a good heart—sometimes and for some people—beneath his outward attitude. I loved these two guys together, loved the banter and the connection, even when Bez is being rude and mean.
The mystery side of the story had a bit of a slower start for me. While I really enjoyed the narrative style, the world building, and the MCs, I was disappointed at first with how apparent some of the clues were. It telegraphed easily what was going to happen to Wally in the coming chapters. But I should have given the author more benefit of the doubt. At about the halfway point, certain things were revealed that truly amped up the tension. The clues that had been hinted at came to fruition, but the twists were twistier than they first appeared and the story really took a good turn. Ultimately, I found the resolution incredibly satisfactory. I will make note here that this book is a bit gory in its details, but not overly so, and the gray morality of some of the characters really came through. I happen to truly enjoy that, so it worked for me, but if you don’t like on-page violence with description, then you may want to think twice about this book.
Overall, I enjoyed this story a great deal. While the mystery plot line was a bit slow to start for me because of the obvious clues, it paid off well in the end. The MCs, coupled with the fun world building, really made this book for me.