Pippa DaCosta became one of my new favourite authors when I read Beyond the Veil, the first in The Veil series, in a free urban fantasy collection called Gods and Mortals. So when I saw the cover for Hidden Blade, the newest book in her Soul Eater series, my expectations were high. I mean, look at that cover! Not only does it contain a tough male protagonist in an urban setting, but that’s the Eye of Horus there, which means that Egyptian mythology would play a huge role in the story, and the only thing I love more than Greek myths are Egyptian myths. So did Hidden Blade meet my expectations? Nope. It surpassed them by a huge margin. I took to the story and the gritty main character Ace Dante from the first page, and I could scarcely put the book down. I devoured the story the way Ace devours souls (okay, so I was far less brutal about it but I like the analogy), and am anxiously waiting for the rest of the books to be released. I’ve read a lot of urban fantasy, and this is like nothing I’ve ever read before. It’s dark, gritty, thrilling, suspenseful, and one-of-a-kind. Without question one of the best urban fantasy novels I’ve ever read, and I would stack it right up there with Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. This is not a book to be missed if urban fantasy is your style or if Egyptian lore fascinates you.
“They call me devil, liar, thief. In whispers, they call me Soul Eater. They’re right. I’m all those things—and more.”
Kicked out of the underworld and cursed to walk this earth for all eternity, Ace Dante finds solace in helping others avoid the wrath of the gods.
But when warrior-bitch, Queen of Cats, and Ace’s ex-wife, Bastet, hires him to stop whoever is slaughtering her blessed women, Ace is caught between two of the most powerful deities to have ever existed: Isis and Osiris.
The once-revered gods aren’t dead.
And Ace is in their way.
Welcome to a New York where the ancient gods roam.
After reading the synopsis, you’d be right to assume that this is a dark story. Like, pitch-black-Batman-brood-scene-dark. And you’d be right. But this is the kind of story that DaCosta excels at. What I loved most about it is that the blurb gives you the most basic information, but keeps the major twists out of the way. There’s a reveal early in the novel that I definitely did not expect, and made the stakes astronomically dangerous. I couldn’t get enough of it, and though this first novel is clearly setting the stage for a larger series, I never felt like I was really left hanging with empty plot holes regarding the central plot.
While DaCosta is fantastic at writing action scenes, the highlight for me was the characters. Ace’s life is one complex clustf*ck, given how he’s mercilessly bound to evil gods Osiris and Isis. Their relationship is absolutely devious–– while I was reading their scenes, I had both the urge to cringe away from the page, and drag my eyes back to see what happened next. Ace’s “partner” Shu is snarky, conniving, and the person who most enojys kicking Ace in the ass when he needs to get his act together. But of course, Ace himself is the star. He’s a puzzle I don’t think will ever be solved. Every time I thought I knew something about him, there would be another layer added. He’s the definition of a tortured dark soul, and he’s not afraid to let his nastiness show. But he does have a heart (just don’t tell him that), which is what made the ending of the book so heartbreaking. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that a little piece of me was crushed by a single sentence uttered by Ace.
Another aspect I absolutely loved was the Egyptian mythology. It’s a culture that doesn’t get enough love in urban fantasy, considering the popular culture used for that genre are the Greeks, Norse, and Celts. So to read about a history that I adored was amazing. The magic and powers are completely original and unique. Ace is not someone you want to piss off, and the Soul Eater/demon/witch angles were a perfect combination.
The book was a short read (I finished it in a day), and while I’m aching for more of these books, I didn’t feel like anything was rushed. While I’m not complaining about it, I can see how some readers might be upset about the ending, but hear me out: The second book, Witches’ Bane, picks at those old wounds, and is building to what will be a truly epic showdown.
I honestly can’t say enough about Hidden Blade and the Soul Eater series. It’s a wild ride from start to finish with an exciting, deadly new character and stands out from other books in its genre. Do not pass this one by!