I received a copy of Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda in the mail, thanks to Pam from Bookalicio.us. I'm so glad I did!
Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:
As the youngest and only female member of the Knights Templar, Bilquis SanGreal grew up knowing she wasn't normal. Instead of hanging out at the mall or going on dates, she spends her time training as a soldier in her order's ancient battle against the Unholy.
Billi's cloistered life is blasted apart when her childhood friend, Kay, returns from Jerusalem, gorgeous and with a dangerous chip on his shoulder. He's ready to reclaim his place in Billi's life, but she's met someone new: amber-eyed Michael, who seems to understand her like no one else, effortlessly claiming a stake in her heart.
But the Templars are called to duty before Billi can enjoy the pleasant new twist to her life. One of the order's ancient enemies has resurfaced, searching for a treasure that the Templars have protected for hundreds of years -- a cursed mirror powerful enough to kill all of London's firstborn. To save her city from catastrophe, Billi will have to put her heart aside and make sacrifices greater than any of the Templars could have imagined.
I loved this book! The characters are so well written and real, I felt like I was there with them. Billi is strong, both mentally and physically, but she isn't mean. She has a conscious, which can be hard to have when one is fighting demons, I guess. I initially hated Arthur, her father, but I played right into the plot, same as Billi. I figured something was up with Michael, but never figured he would turn out to be who he was.
I also loved the subtle mythology worked into the entire story: Billi SanGreal (or Holy Blood, aka the Holy Grail, the treasure the Templars were said to have hidden), Arthur (made me think of King Arthur); the knights Gwaine, Kay, Percival (all names of King Arthur's fabled knights). These little subtleties made me chuckle and try to remember what all I knew about the Grail Legend, but also reinforced that these are real knights, and their quest, instead of finding and keeping safe the Holy Grail, is keeping humanity safe.
I'm so thankful for the opportunity to read this book. I had not heard of it or the series until I saw Pam mention it on Twitter (@BookaliciousPam). I will be going to the store soon to purchase the second book in the series, Dark Goddess. I hope that a third book will be written as this is one of the best "first in series" books that I've read in a long time.
I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars. The plot is interesting and easy to follow, the characters are real and believable, and, I wouldn't have any problem having this on my shelf in a middle or high school classroom.