Two Minute Review: The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver

Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Author: Jana Oliver
Genre: supernatural fiction, young-adult
Series: The Demon Trappers #1
Pages: 340 (Nook edition)
Published: February 2011
Source: purchased
Rating: 3/5

Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself—and that’s exactly what the demons are counting on...
Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper, Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father's footsteps. The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta’s local Trappers’ Guild needs all the help they can get—even from a girl. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils – Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life’s about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen.

But then a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, sudden tragedy strikes the Trappers’ Guild, spinning Riley down a more dangerous path than she ever could have imagined. As her whole world crashes down around her, who can Riley trust with her heart—and her life?

One of the saddest things to happen to a reader is anticipating loving a novel and, in the end, upon finishing said novel, ....not really feeling much at all. It's hard to write reviews like this - ones for books that aren't bad, but they aren't quite good either. There's a lot of imagination at play here in this vaguely futuristic world, but it never quite panned out to its potential for me. The focus lavished on Beck, romantic entanglements and Riley's inner drama about both took up far more of the narrative than I would've liked and kept me from really engaging with the plot. There are several interesting ideas at work within the basic setup Oliver has created (demons, levels, the Guild/hunter rivalry), but flat execution and a very immature/often quite brainless protagonist hamper the story. What also killed my interest was the funereal pace; a little action and excitement amid all those night-long vigils alongside Paul's grave all for nothing would've kept me more eager to read.

Riley constituted the reason for much of my disconnect here. I wanted to root for this tough girl from Atlanta, but her repeated hardheadness and stubborn refusal to learn wouldn't let me do it. She makes stupid mistakes over and over again, refuses to ask for any kind of help when she needs it most. Those kind of heroines don't last long in the real world - they get snuffed easily, quickly and in Riley's chosen profession of demon hunting, I doubt she'd've made it even this far if she weren't The Main Character of the Series. The potential for a love-square is already set-up around her and that already irritates me to pieces. Riley's not completely irredeemable, I must admit, but it will take a lot of time and growth for me to invest at all within this particular character. And as I have little to no desire to pick up book number two, Forbidden, at this time, I don't know whether I'll witness her evolution. Many other readers and reviewers seem to find her refreshing so I'm going to take it as a case of "it's not you, it's me." and move along.

For me, The Demon Trapper's Daughter was a run-of-the-mill affair, not vastly different from any other young-adult supernatural series out there. The original ideas that are here aren't the focus of the novel, but rather instead the emotional relationships between the characters, whcih is a damn shame because the former is far more compelling and unique than the latter. For me, this was a gamble that didn't pay off, but it's far from the worst thing I've even read this month. Just please, please stop with writing the Southern dialect for Beck  -- it made me cringe every single time he spoke.

There is also a free novella set in the same series called Retro Demonology, for those interested in trying the series out without buying.

Here is the cover for the revamped, re-released and re-named version:


  1. Hey, Jess!

    It's been much too long since I last dropped I decided to make your blog a priority! And lo and behold, I find this review!

    Your analysis of the book is very interesting, although I had an opposite reaction to yours. I started out hating the book, then falling in love with it. And it was mostly because of Riley. I really don't think there's anything wrong with Riley per se. Instead, this is a very unusual case of an author having a truly GREAT character on their hands, and then not knowing how to handle said character. I can sympathize with some of your frustration while reading this book, even though I ended up liking it so much. While I was reading it, I felt at times like Oliver had Riley on a leash! Tough as Riley is, she doesn't really get to kick as much demon butt as she should, being that she'd The Main Character.

    So I do agree with you on some aspects of the novel.

    As always, a GREAT review!! Thanks!! : )

    1. Hi Maria! Always a pleasure to see you around!

      And yes, I definitely seem to be in the minority here with this one! Definitely one of those cases where I really wanted to love the book, but just couldn't. And you have some valid points about Riley: maybe I was too harsh on my first pass through this series.

      Do you recommend book two? Is it as good as or better than this one? I might have to listen to you and try it out :)

    2. Hi, again! Thank you! I'll make it a habit to drop by more often!

      You know, I have mixed feelings about the whole series. I don't like the whole necromancer thing. I think it's totally disgusting that bodies are 'reanimated' in order to become servants of the rich.

      In Book 2, a new guy enters the picture. I had my hopes up with him, after Simon's very disturbing turnaround, but this new guy is also a huge'll see if you read the book.

      I've read all three of the published novels. Why? I'm not really sure, to be honest. I guess I must like something about them, but I can't really say what. Weird, huh? Lol. Maybe it's just the thing of "having to know what happens next".

      Anyway, I would advise you to borrow the books, either from a friend or the library, if you want to continue the series. That way, you won't be kicking yourself for buying books that you ultimately disliked (if you end up disliking them). I've reviewed all three books, if you'd like to take a look. (Hint, hint, lol.)

      There are good and bad things about these books. I think that, in the fourth book, Riley and Beck will FINALLY be together! And if they're not, I'll personally email Oliver and tell her off!! (Just kidding!) : )


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