Initially, reading The God Killers reminded me very much of my first encounter with Anita Blake. John F. Allen appeared to have crafted a standard urban fantasy tale, immersed in the supernatural, and spiced with elements of paranormal romance. Even the narrative structure and pacing of the first few chapters reminded me of Laurell K. Hamilton's work.That's not a bad thing, and not at all a knock against either author. It's simply an acknowledgement of how the book initially struck me.
I say 'initially' because as Allen settles into the story, becoming more comfortable with the lovely Ivory Blaque in the process, he begins layering in some really exciting story elements that definitely kick the story up a few notches. Before long we have a great story behind the God Killers themselves, a pair of antique pistols that Ivory is hired to recover for their rightful owner - or owners, to be precise, since she's hired twice for the same job, but two very different clients!
In addition, we have a well developed hierarchy of the supernatural, complete with warring vampire clans and close-knit werewolf packs, and an uneasy alliance with humanity that's as imaginative as it is simple. Where Allen really won me over, though, is with a back story that brings it all together. His interpretation of mythology is fascinating, and I really liked the way he managed to weave centuries of faith into one crazy roller coaster ride of warring gods. He also gives us a peek behind several historical events, with one tragedy in particular revealed as a cover-up for vampire activity, which helps to put a veneer of plausibility on the tale.
All of that would be wasted, however, were it not for the ability of Ivory to carry a story. Strong, confident, and appropriately flawed, she's an entirely human protagonist in an otherwise inhuman world. She has a flair for goading people, loves retail therapy, and isn't shy about her loves or her lusts. While it's really become something of a cliché within the genre, her reluctant entanglement in a vampire/werewolf love triangle actually works because of how well she's been established as a character, and how willing she is to defend her honor and her right to choose.
There are a lot of questions left unanswered, but that's to be expected from the first book in the series. While there is something of a cliffhanger to the last chapter, it's a development that comes after the main story is resolved, making it more of a tease. Overall, The God Killers is a fun story, with great imagination, and a heroine you want to read more about. If you're a fan of the genre, then you'll definitely enjoy this.Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins