A Wicked Heritage
Josephine, the protagonist, seems quite aloof despite how her parents kept controlling her life and taking things away from her. Her character didn’t always reflect that oppression, rather we were introduced to her the moment she broke free and got to see who she really is. As you read on, you get a sense that Josephine and Dagon have gone through similar situations, that they’re even a reflection of each other, in some ways.
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Dagon is very impressional, mechanically going from one conclusion to another. He seems very capable at what he does and occupies his space in his world to the fullest. His personality, though, is quite questionable. He is moody, constantly looks down on others, and doesn’t know how to control his words (his verbal outbursts are alarming). I’d say he is a dangerous male character, the kind who is nasty but is also forgiven.
Josephine is polite, cheerful and takes things head on. She’s kind and shows a lot of courage. The problem is that these characteristics don’t exactly line up with how emotional she gets, and the things she cries at so openly, especially in the first half of the book. Something about how quickly she accepts the fact that demons exist is also unrealistic.
The novel, as I slowly came to realize, builds on established archetypes (which isn't necessarily a bad thing, sometimes). Dagon enjoys teasing Josephine by smirking at her and realising how his presence affects her, but at the same time he is cold towards her. Later he allows himself to be vulnerable and, as you rightly put it, ‘helplessness’ in front of her confidence. Josephine, though projected as a strong protagonist, is often found in situations where she is dependent on/comforted by a man like Dagon. There are times when Dagon gets moody or misunderstands something (for whatever reason) and takes out his uncontrolled rage/confusion on her. Their exchanges do develop from comical to explosive to understanding, but Dagon doesn’t redeem himself, in my eyes.
Now, to the plot. Towards the first half of the book, when the world and its systems and the characters were being set up, there were a lot of instances with the potential to engage the readers in subtle horror, suspense etc. For example, Josephine is startled by odd things happening in the house, but we have already been told who is behind that, and why. Later on, as Dagon is slowly integrated into the human world, we get to see sides to him that wouldn’t have been revealed otherwise, which I appreciate as a reader. The first few chapters gave me the impression that the book would be focused on the ‘Fantasy’ elements of the story, but it was actually more about the Fantastical world arranging itself around their romance, which I am not complaining about.
Overall, the characters didn’t feel completely new but the plot was unique in itself. The writing style was easy to follow, engaging, and contained a lot of dialogue. It managed to interest the reader and draw them in quite well. Since this is an ongoing novel, I am curious to see how things end up between Dagon and his father, as the romance already seems too promising. I am hoping for surprising twists too!