I received the book some months ago and, after getting stuck in over the past couple of weeks, am really sorry that I didn’t get to it earlier – Original Sin is a highly enjoyable novel, and the start to what promises to be a thrilling, entertaining series. 🙂
The tale follows Moira O’Donnell and her efforts to stop her mother (yep, her own mother, flesh and blood) from unleashing Hell on Earth. Along the way Moira receives help from a variety of sources – a demonologist who hates her, a priest in his 80’s, and a guy who has spent months in a coma who’s hiding more than even he knows…
One of the most impressive aspects of this novel (and definitely something that showcases Allison’s skill at storytelling) is that you, as the reader, are literally thrown into the novel, almost the way Steven Erikson did with Gardens of the Moon; plenty has already happened to the characters before you meet them here, some of the events taking place bare months before the book opens, and this added a very clever sense of realism to the novel – these characters weren’t waiting for some catalyst-like event to get them going, they were at it and doing what they do long before the novel’s opening. The depth this adds to the story and to the characters themselves is excellent, and it’s also pulled off in a way that really had me thinking about the way other authors do it – you know that characters have lived before you meet them but in many cases it’s not handled as well as Allison did here.
Allison’s characters, and the way she writes them, was also something I really enjoyed. Moira is prone to panic attacks and moments when she thinks, “Just what the hell am I doing here? I must be nuts to be putting myself through all of this!” but she’s also brave and steadfast and focused when she needs to be – just as with anyone you know, she was sometimes irritating, infuriating, but also admirable and fun. I can definitely see myself following Moira’s tales throughout this series, and she can definitely kick ass!
The other main female character, Skye McPherson (the sheriff of the town that the tale plays out in) is also excellently written – here we’ve got a woman in charge who is faced with opposition because she’s a woman and also finds herself dunked head-first into supernatural goings-on that leave her feeling like a fish out of water. Skye could also serve as a character in her own series because she’s definitely strong enough, smart enough and she also knows what she’s about and what she needs to do to get the job done.
The demonologist, Anthony, is almost the typical stubborn bastard – he thinks he knows everything, is righteous and full of Christian thunder (but not like that, not like a Bible-pusher or ‘You’re going to hell because your skirt is too short’) and the (negative) sparks that fly between him and Moira (and he has cause, from a certain point of view) really help to set up a great dynamic between him, Moira and Skye. Anthony could also star in his own series.
Raphael Cooper, though… Hehehe I’m going to be really evil – all I’ll say about him is that he’s pretty damn cool and the most enigmatic character of the bunch. 🙂
Allison brought these characters to life brilliantly and also taught me quite a bit about how to write POV’s – Allison switched between characters, much of the time in the same chapter, and pulled it off so damn well that at first I hardly realized it was happening; I would be reading Moira’s POV and then Anthony’s and then Skye’s, and know I was reading their POVs, but it would only hit me later – for a writer to be able to switch so seamlessly between POVs is something to admire for sure. 🙂
The worldbuilding in the novel is almost sparse, but in a good way – we are, after all, being introduced to a world in which supernatural events take place and in which characters can use ‘magic’, plus the tale is also set in our present time (with the characters sporting iPhones, GPS units, etc), so Allison’s handling of this really impressed me, too – it’s also done a bit more realistically, in that every herb she mentions probably actually exists, and every ritual has an authentic ring to it; some of the forces are uncontrollable and evil is evil – something that works very well with the kind of person Moira used to be and the temptations she is put through. Although the magic wasn’t ground-breaking, it was, more importantly, believable – and in some cases, comical. 🙂 (Here I’m getting a vision of an aquarium, 😉 )
We also get a glimpse of the town and the events that the town and it’s people are caught up in through the eyes of various other characters in smaller POVs that don’t affect the tale adversely – in fact, the entire novel can almost be seen as a kickass TV series; the info, action and character revelations ramp up chapter by chapter until it hits a pretty cool climax. 🙂
I really enjoyed this book and I now count myself as one of Allison’s fans – I’m really looking forward to Carnal Sin (already out, order your copies here -Amazon US, Amazon UK), even though it has an overtly paranormal-romancy cover (which I understand and agree with); Moira definitely has some interesting adventures waiting for her, that’s for sure!
In short, if you want believable characters that are sensitive yet can kick ass, fast-paced action and well-thought-out set-pieces and a clever plot, as well as a healthy helping of magic and the paranormal, then this is a book you will probably enjoy as much as I did. 🙂
I give this a 9 / 10 – really enjoyed this novel, really surprised by how much I enjoyed it! 🙂