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Set in a world where the Biblical prophecy of the Rapture has come true, the story follows the protagonist Sam. Sam is half-demon and-half human, having characteristics of both. He is stronger and faster than most humans, heals faster and is difficult to hurt. He of course has horns protruding from his head, which makes interacting with people a little difficult. Like a demon, he is burned by contact with anything holy and cannot venture near a church. But, he has all the emotions of a human. He is awkward and shy, gets angry and ashamed and feels loyalty and love.
Sam’s entire world revolves around Hikari, his mentor and father-figure and his daughter Aimi. Sam is mainly confined to their house and only steps outside in the dark, or when he is wearing a cap or a hood to cover his horns. Sam has been trained as a warrior right from a very young age and is extremely proficient in using various weapons as well as hand-to-hand combat aided by his inhuman strength and speed. He is portrayed as fumbling his way through almost everything else. He has difficulty expressing himself and is positively disastrous in his interactions with others his age. Sam is in love with Aimi, and she is the only person with whom he interacts somewhat freely. This love story develops throughout the book, and I suspect it will have much larger role to play in later ones.
His true destiny and the reason behind this training only come to light, when he learns about the rapture and the role he will have to play once it happens. As the story went on, I developed a liking for this ‘demon-child’, and his pain in knowing that he would lose all the he held dear in the rapture really seeps through the writing. We begin to feel sorry for him as we realise that he is expected to endanger his life for not for the people he loves but for people who have constantly feared him, ignored him and hated him for what he is, without knowing who he really is.
The post-rapture world created by the author is filled with natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, fire raining from the sky, ash pouring down continuously and infestations of innumerable demons from hell. The descriptions by the author are really vivid, and you can clearly see the morose world where one can only think of survival. In this world Sam sets out to meet his destiny to protect the innocents who have not been taken up to heaven. Sam’s strong character shines through in this world as he willingly puts himself in danger a number of times in order to save every innocent person he comes across, so much so that he is willing to follow the demons into hell to protect a friend. The number and diverse nature of the demons in the book made it really interesting. They were described well and there characteristics clearly defined.
Sam sets out to find and fight his ultimate enemy, the leader from hell. Along the way he gets help from a number of people. A couple of teenage companions also join him in this fight. He finds divine help along the way and is guided by an angel to the right path.
I have to say that the author is a master at describing Sam’s fight moves with his swords. It is easy to get into monotonous repetitions, but I never felt that happening anywhere in the book. The fight sequences have been terrifically choreographed and I just loved getting immersed in them. Another thing I really loved about the book was the alternating description of current events which we read with bated breath and the flash backs to the past where we found out how Sam ended up in the current state. The book is amazingly fast-paced and action-packed and I did not once feel the story slowing down.
I should note a couple of points which could trip up readers. Firstly, this book draws substantial parts of the story-line from the Bible. At a number of places, the sentiments of a number of people, who ignore the fictional and fantastical nature of the story, could be hurt, especially atheists and people of other religions. Try and remember that this is a fictional account and is not a philosophical statement (atleast I think it is so). In fact, initially I was feeling offended at a number of places, but as the story continued and I came to accept that this is foremost a fantasy book, I started feeling comfortable with the story and was able to really get into it and start cheering for the characters, even if one of them was half-demon. Another point of contention is the long and numerous battle scenes. Although vividly described, the detail can get overwhelming. Following all the action can get tedious and getting through the longer scenes can get boring, especially for those who do not like action sequences. Don’t get me wrong, I just loved these parts in all their detail. Personally, I would not have wanted it to be any other way. But I can see a number of people being put off by these. You have been forewarned!
Overall, I give the book four stars and want to see how the story develops in the rest of the books. I would love to see all the characters coming back and of course, for the GOOD side to win.