The Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda

I read this one months ago and it still stays with me. One could almost say that it’s haunting. Not that it gave me nightmares, but for those prone to it -- I can see nightmares occurring.  I read it in an afternoon because I couldn’t put it down. It’s purported to be for ages 13 and up, but a movie based on the book would either be very watered down or rated R for the violence.

Billi (aged fifteen) is the only daughter of one of the few remaining members of the Knight’s Templar. If you’re unfamiliar with this groups of Catholic Knights (some say they are sacred protectors of the people, others call them vigilantes) I suggest doing a little independent research. If nothing else, it’s a fascinating group of men who have spent history getting the short end of a very dangerous stick. Billi is being inducted as the book opens; there is no question that the existing members aren’t fond of the idea of a girl joining their ranks. In the grand scheme of things, though, this is a minor obstacle for her.

I picked up a lot of Joss Whedon undertones while reading this - if Whedon were a hard-core Catholic with an extensive knowledge of lore and mythology: a barely pubescent girl with a destiny forced to give up her own life pursuits (boys, normal school life, a decent night’s sleep) in order to fight vampires, werewolves, demons, and fallen angels. She is well-schooled in martial arts (although they admit it’s less formal and more street-fighting,) church history, and a fair amount of what would be considered witchcraft were it not sanctioned by the Church.

The Knight’s are, of course, a very deeply kept secret. Tour guides take groups through London and stop in front of the church where the Templar’s “used” to meet before they were “disbanded” - this fact coupled with impending doom add an urgency to the tale as it spins out: save the world, but no one can know you did it. Billi finds help in unlikely places, while being surrounded with the sacrifices that matter but which are rarely required of anyone in the modern age...and this is a modern book. It might deal with lore that is thousands of years old, but Billi lives in modern London where the souls of man are in as dire a need as they were centuries ago.

A coming of age tale meant for those who can take the idea that the things going bump in the night might actually exist...and that the organizations we do or do not look to for protection are also the same ones who are being manipulated to harm us, I feel it should be a must-read. Regardless of your age or religious affiliation this is a book that will make you rethink what you’ve long assumed...and even if you’re not left wondering what else the Church is hiding, you’ve certainly enjoyed the story.

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