When Lily Carlyle wakes up, she is overwhelmed with surprise, the first of which is that she’s alive, since she specifically remembers dying. She is quickly distracted though by the fact that she is bound to a table and a terrifying demon is about to kill her. She escapes, and learns that on top of everything else, she’s inside someone else’s body. A frog-man named Clarence explains to Lily-in-Alice’s-body that she is the girl of prophecy, and she will be fighting for Good to close the Ninth Gate of Hell and keep thousands of demons from taking over the world. Lily has been thrown head first into the ultimate battle between Good and Evil, and fight she quickly discovers Alice was involved in long before Lily jumped into her body. Now, Lily has to figure out how to stay alive and save the world, all while pretending to be Alice.
I picked up this book because I loved Julie Kenner’s other paranormal series, Kate Connors – Demon Hunting Soccer Mom. I remember that series as being light-hearted, fun, quick reads. While Tainted was a quick read, it was not light-hearted. The best word to describe this novel was “gritty.” Lily Carlyle is a “bad girl” who got in plenty of trouble even before she died and became a warrior for good. She cheats, doesn’t follow the rules, and even planned and attempted a murder. She has a potty mouth and a bad attitude that sometimes got on my nerves. It fit her personality, so even though I didn’t particularly like her I still thought she was well-written. She was also one of those characters that self-assessed and worked to develop and become a better person as the novel progressed. She still had an attitude, but she learned and grew which is something I very much like to see in main characters in these paranormal novels.
The plot–final battle between Good and Evil–was not necessarily new. It wasn’t even new to Kenner, since the fight against evil demons played a major role in her other series that I have read. This was a new way to tell the story about that battle though, so it was interesting and refreshing, it didn’t read as same-old-same-old. There were plenty of twists and turns as well. I did predict the big twist at the end, saw it coming a mile away, in fact. But I didn’t predict the way the characters would react to it, or how it would change some of Lily’s relationships. I also didn’t think Lily’s little sister Rose would continue to have such a major role, now that Lily was in a new body and essentially a new life, so that was an interesting addition.
This book had a cliffhanger ending, and then this particular edition came with a one chapter teaser for the next book in The Blood Lily Chronicles called Torn. The teaser chapter was even worse with the cliffhangers. Usually I complain about those, but for some reason in this book I didn’t mind. Maybe it’s because I already like and trust Kenner, or maybe because I wasn’t very emotionally investing in Lily. Either way, I didn’t mind this time around, and I’m intrigued enough to want to go out and get the next book soon.