I have to gush about this one: WOW. I could not put it down. Her world-building was absolutely incredible, built around stories in the Bible as a jumping off point for creating her own paranormal reality.
The concept: in Genesis 6, the Nephilim are mentioned very briefly as giants and heroes of old. These creatures are the product of a union between humans and demons who took physical form. In Higgins’s world, only the “Dukes,” or demons in charge of one of the Seven Deadly Sins (or of corrupting each of the Ten Commandments) can take physical form, so every neph child is born of one of them. While redemption exists for humanity, it doesn’t for the neph–and each is supposed to serve his father in corrupting humanity, placing special emphasis on his or her father’s pet sin.
Anna Witt is a neph, but she’s unusual: her father was the demon of substance abuse, but her mother was an angel. Her father went to prison and her mother died when she was born, so she was raised by a sweet Southern lady who adores her. Anna is vehemently against drugs and alcohol but isn’t totally sure why. She’s also a virgin (hasn’t even been kissed before), never lies, has never been drunk, and really doesn’t do anything wrong… and yet while this might make her sound unrelatable, it really doesn’t come off that way at all, because we’re in her head and can hear her rationale. She possesses her mother’s strong empathy for others, crying at the drop of a hat when she senses the pain of others. She doesn’t keep herself so pure because she’s a prude, but because she understands consequences and genuinely loves the people around her. As a neph, she can also see people’s emotions, each manifesting as a particular color.
Then, Anna meets Kaiden Rowe. Imagine every sexy and seductive quality a guy can possibly have, and that pretty much sums him up: he’s gorgeous, he’s a drummer in a successful band, he’s charming and direct, he’s filthy rich, he’s got a British accent–and he’s the one person whose emotions Anna cannot read. Yet he’s fixated on Anna. But unlike most books of this type, there’s actually a very good reason for this: Kaiden knows immediately that Anna is like him. He’s a nephilim too, the son of the Duke of Lust.
The storyline involves Anna’s discovery of what she is, and the rules of her world–with Kaiden’s help. Along the way, things between them get very complicated. It’s ‘opposites attract’ to the tenth power, but you really root for them both. I absolutely love how open Anna is about her feelings, too–unlike most teenage protagonists, she isn’t trying to protect her heart. Probably because of her angelic mother, she loves unabashedly–and not just Kaiden, but everyone around her who is hurting. The story isn’t overtly Christian by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a fantastic depiction of grace in story form.
I’m already engrossed in Book 2 and racing through it!!
My rating: *****