Review: Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda

From Goodreads: New enemies, new romance, and new horrors,

Billi’s back, and it seems like the Unholy just can’t take a hint.

Still reeling from the death of her best friend, Kay, Billi’s thrust back into action when the Templars are called to investigate werewolf activity. And these werewolves are like nothing Bilil’s seen before.

They call themselves the Polenitsy – Man Killers. The ancient warrior women of Eastern Europe, supposedly wiped out centuries ago. But now they’re out of hiding and on the hunt for a Spring Child — an Oracle powerful enough to blow the volcano at Yellowstone — precipitating a Fimbulwinter that will wipe out humankind for good.

The Templars follow the stolen Spring Child to Russia, and the only people there who can help are the Bogatyrs, a group of knights who may have gone to the dark side. To reclaim the Spring Child and save the world, Billi needs to earn the trust of Ivan Romanov, an arrogant young Bogatyr whose suspicious of people in general, and of Billi in particular.

Let me just get this out of the way: OMG WTF YAY FTW!

Sarwat Chadda’s second book in the Billi SanGreal series is mind-blowingly epic. So epic in fact that I just want to download a list of praising adjectives from a thesaurus and just put all of those in a text and call that my review. Sarwat is a master at mixing lore and handing them to you in a mash up that will literally have you anticipating each sentence. Usually when I am inundated with a mash up of different lore I immediately dislike the book *cough*CharlaineHarris*cough* and am unable to enjoy the work.

In Dark Goddess Billi is faced with life after Kay’s death. She is in a depression and resents being forced into the life of the Templar. On a random patrol she is surprised by a Werewolf and saves a small child from being eaten and that is where the book takes off at a break neck pace to the finish and oh my what a finish.

"Baba Yaga"

In this book we have Billi starting a flirtation with a Romanov Prince, saving a Spring Child from the epic witch Baba Yaga and learning to become the Templar she wants to be. Sometimes books suffer from what we call the Sophomore Slump but Dark Goddess if anything improved the story of Billi and Chadda’s writing was tight. I am a visual reader and a motion picture plays in my head as I am reading and with Dark Goddess at no point did I have to stop and assign the movie playing in my head characteristics.

These books are so well written and fascinating that I know whenever I start one that I will be incapacitated until I can finish. I only hope there will be more in the Billi SanGreal series. I can’t press upon you enough to read these books. If there is one set I am going to be pushing this year it is this.

Billi SanGreal and her battle are important on so many fronts. Not often do we get a YA character that is not white, that the cover hasn’t been white washed, and more than that Billi is a beacon for feminism: she is strong and needs no one to survive. A true to life self rescuing princess.

Have you read the books or are planning to?

Find out how to get copies of Devil’s Kiss and Dark Goddess signed, personalized and shipped to you!

FTC Disclosure: I picked this up in ARC form at a conference.

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Review: Devil’s Kiss by Sarwat Chadda

From Goodreads: As the youngest and only female member of the Knights Templar, Bilquis SanGreal grew up knowing she wasn’t normal. Instead of hanging out at the mall or going on dates, she spends her time training as a soldier in her order’s ancient battle against the Unholy.

Billi’s cloistered life is blasted apart when her childhood friend, Kay, returns from Jerusalem, gorgeous and with a dangerous chip on his shoulder. He’s ready to reclaim his place in Billi’s life, but she’s met someone new: amber-eyed Michael, who seems to understand her like no one else, effortlessly claiming a stake in her heart.

But the Templars are called to duty before Billi can enjoy the pleasant new twist to her life. One of the order’s ancient enemies has resurfaced, searching for a treasure that the Templars have protected for hundreds of years — a cursed mirror powerful enough to kill all of London’s firstborn. To save her city from catastrophe, Billi will have to put her heart aside and make sacrifices greater than any of the Templars could have imagined.

I bought this book as soon as it came out. It has sat on my shelf glaring at me at times, almost screaming “pull me down and read me.” Now I know why. Billi is not to be messed with and I should have read her long ago, I read her now for two reasons, first I have an ARC of Dark Goddess that I am dying to read and secondly Sarwat Chadda is coming to a town near me for a book signing. I wish I hadn’t shelved it. I would have loved to have had the painful anticipation of waiting for Dark Goddess. It doesn’t happen often to me folks but I am a full on fan of Mr. Chadda and I may have to go fangirly or do something silly like have the vapors at the event.

The book starts off in an extremely grim spot. Billi Sangreal is on her way to becoming a Templar like her father always wanted but there is one final step. The Ordeal. Holy Batman of Tests! Hers is a whopper. There is a six year old escapee who is actually a ghul running around, even though he is cute and cuddly his soul is gone, but Billi has a heart so it goes a little something like this:

He’s just a little boy…
“No, Billi!” shouted Arthur, but too late. Billi dropped to her knees and embraced Alex. She pulled him close to her heart and–
the chill seeps into her pores, saturation her skin with ice. Like venom, black ichor floods her veins, pumping her with Alexs’s despair, envy, and
HATE
that he was snatched from the sunlight by sweaty hands and crushing fingers, in the dirt and fallen leaves, never to feel the
WARMTH
he misses so much and wants more than anything, and so he sucks it from her, leaving only coldness that is brittle and bone-deep, the air out of her lungs white frost, and her
FLESH
blisters, and tears freeze on her cheeks, and she stares into Alex’s eyes, black and malice-filled, remembering only the
AGONY
that he cannot forget, and it eats him, an abysmal virus that he can’t contain, so she must
SUFFER
like he did, and the cold burns her heart as he infests her with his darkness burrowing deeper and-

So even though he is only six you can see what type of beast the Templar’s are up against and why they are still in business. There is a lot of mythology surrounding the Templar in this book but it isn’t the same hum-drum stuff. I went through a phase where I tried to read that hence me buying this book. I DNF’d a lot. I was like “Oh yeah Templar’s woohoo” but when I got it home it was all conspiracy theory, shadow government stuff. What Chadda did that was so very interesting is use an almost shadow world full of ghuls and rogue agents of God who the Templar’s protect. Billi’s mother was lost in an earlier battle, that you learn more about in the ending of the book.

I do have to say that if you find Billi a bit whiny in the beginning stick with her, she grows on your by the end. Try to place yourself in her situation, ratty apartment, despondent dad, best friend shows up after being gone a year. She doesn’t even really want to be a Templar. I think Billi evolves through-out this book and I truly enjoyed seeing this evolution of character. Sarwat Chadda is an amazing author, I loved the bits of story like the one I excerpted for you above where you see the really dark stuff, and I laughed out loud a lot too. I will say he writes like a British drama so don’t get overly attached to any of the characters.

It was also oh so refreshing to read a book where the main character wasn’t white! Billi is half Pakistani and I loved the description of her so much. You could just see her kicking some ghul ass with a sword.

If you haven’t read this book you should pick it up. Dark Goddess book two in the Billi Sangreal Series is out now!

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book from my local indie.

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