Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review: Echoes of the Past

It's always an exciting day here at Battle Hymns HQ when a Demon Squad book makes its way into my mailbox.  It was especially exciting this time around because the last installment in this urban fantasy series left me more eager than usual to see where things would go next.  Once it arrived, Echoes of the Past only sat on the shelves for a few days before I picked it up and dove in.

From the get-go the personal stakes are high for our hero Frank Trigg.  Up to this point, a typical Demon Squad novel usually finds Frank fighting long odds in order to save the world, but this time around we see Frank trying to sort out and deal with some very personal business while dire threats to the world build around him.

Echoes of the Past is a stand out novel in the Demon Squad series for many reasons, but likely the biggest reason is because so many burning questions get answered here...I don't want to be rude and spoil anything, but there were some very satisfying reveals in this installment. All of which upped the stakes a few notches and added layers of depth to the series.

I was surprised to find that Echoes of the Past felt like a much different read compared to the past Demon Squad books...and not just because Frank finally has himself a steady lady-love.

Each of the books in this series focus on some sort of threat, and Frank's battle to stave off that threat. This time around we see a similar situation crop up, but while Frank hustles to find a plan to save the earth from a cross-dimensional war with demon-aliens, he uncovers some particularly unsettling bits of information about his past.  This sets Frank off on a path of personal discovery, the likes of which he probably hasn't seen since he hit puberty.

Jokes aside, I learned a lot about Frank Trigg in this one, and it was really nice to get some of the back story on this character.  These reveals also informed a lot of the whys and wherefores of the grand, over-arching plot which has been sort of hovering just out of reach for the past three books.  That grand plot has now moved to the forefront, and the result is that the stakes for this series have somehow managed to get higher than ever before.

I will say that Echoes of the Past is less of a thrill ride than the past Demon Squad books, but that's not a bad thing. This book still has it's share of action, plot twists, and large scale battles, just less of that than the past volumes. It was interesting to see this book, and series, take a different direction than what has been the norm for rest of the series.  This change of direction caught me unawares at first, but I eventually came to really enjoy the level of character development and plot building that takes center stage in Echoes of the Past.

I was pained (in a good way) by the fact that this book doesn't provide much sense of closure. There's a brutal cliffhanger ending that makes Echoes of the Past feel like more of an opening salvo, or first act to a much larger story.  Even though many of my series-long burning questions were answered in this installment, the tantalizing ending meant that those questions were replaced with new ones that will beleaguer me until the next Demon Squad book.

Tim Marquitz' Demon Squad series is one of the few series I've managed to start, and stick with as the series progresses... Not something I've been so good at the past few years, which is a testament as to how good this series is.  Not only that, but it's a series that has grown on me and gotten better with each installment.  This is a series that appears to be building towards great things, and I'm very much looking forward to what's in store next.

Grade: B+


Bryce L. said...

Great review. I really enjoyed the new direction as well along with the backstory, oh yeah, and the monsters and aliens and pretty much everything. :)

The Reader said...

Great review Ryan, I'm excited by Tim's approach to Frank and his back story with this book. I'm hoping that DS-5 gives us bigger shockers and simply more Frank!


Ryan said...

@Bryce- Marquitz is consistently a crowd pleaser. I find that I have very little to complain about when I read one of his books.

@Mihir- Thanks for the kind words! I'm very excited for DS5. Tim really upped the ante with ECHOES.