I enjoyed this solid debut by a new author (I’m not sure whether they have anything under other names) with a different-enough take on demons and angels to keep things fresh while staying rooted in the familiar. Using this element of the supernatural can get bogged down by religion, but Taylor’s world doesn’t automatically assign good or evil to the demon or angel characters, allowing everyone to exist in the shades of gray that make storytelling interesting.
The mark referred to in the title is one of the more unique elements of this world, and Cal’s reasoning behind giving Oscar his mark is just as unclear to him as it is to the readers. I’m not a huge fan of “insta-love,” but this premise takes the trope so far to the extreme that it comes back around and becomes interesting again. Even though the relationship between Cal and Oscar becomes a forgone conclusion, enough obstacles remained in their path to keep me invested in their story.
Oscar’s acute anxiety threads this book with angst, though it being separate from the heroes’ relationship made for a nice change of pace. This entire book is likely a trigger for those who should take care when reading about abusive relationships, but I appreciated the unflinching look at what Oscar has been through—from the experience, to the aftermath, to the ongoing healing process. Cal does not fix Oscar, but he does help Oscar with the various tools needed to give himself peace.
I was equally invested in the external plot involving Cal’s brothers. The dual arcs balanced each other well and set up future books in the series nicely. I look forward to the obvious relationships that are sure to come and the mysteries that remain for this unique brotherhood.
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