Dark. Heart-breaking. Thrilling. Sexy. It's all there. 'Sweet Evil' features the whole emotion palette, and leaves nothing out. The way it twists and plays with emotion makes is mesmerizing and most definitely one of a kind. Just let me be clear on one thing: it's nothing it purports to be.
Both the blurb and the cover scream 'steamy, light YA fantasy' and try to convince with the usual clichés of good girl falls for bad boy, bad boy is not so bad after all, he's only 'protecting' her, because they cannot be together, blah, blah, blah... You all know that one, right? Although 'Sweet Evil' doesn't lack clichés, it always brings along a unique twist, somethign that gives it its very own coloring. It's hard to explain without spoiling, but it just makes other YA novels pale in comparison.
There's also nothing light about this story. This is not a novel to pass a few hours with every now and then. It's intense and edgy and kind of won't leave your head for days.
As for my opinion, I'm still torn.
It's a very character-driven storyline. There are hardly action-scenes which doesn't mean the story isn't fast-paced. It does keep you intrigued, or actually glued to the pages and effortelssly. The author's spin on the angel/demon lore absolutely fascinated me - the idea of demons living as Dukes of he sins on earth and forcing their offspring to 'work' for them is so genious, I don't think I'll ever be able to read another angel themed books without thinking how Higgins did it so much better.
And here goes my problem. The thing is, angel/demon mythology can be a tricky subject, either too heavy on the religious side or too much on the satanistic side, which is why authors have to be careful not to let their own opinion dictate the world they're creating, otherwise... it might get a little offensive. Wendy Higgins is obviously a strictly religious person, which wouldn't have become such a problem for me had she not let it influence her work. And when I say influence, I mean you couldn't ignore her beliefs if you tried.
Anna, the MC, is the perfectly good girl, all Bella Swan-mode, innocent and pure as a nun, and not only a virgin but words like 'sexy' never even entered her mind before catching sight of Kaidan. What bothered me most about her personality is not even that the Bella-Swan copy is so overused it's not funny anymore, but that she's so incredibly innocent it's creepy. Her lack of humanity, or whatever she was lacking made her either look like an alien or a psycho. The worst thing isn't that her tear ducts start leaking each time she might get upset, or that she literally seems incapable of lying, and that she's generally unable to think any dark (read: sinful) thoughts. To say I had major issues with that alone would be an understatement.
But the author had to go the extra mile. Anna is strictly religious. She regularly goes to church, she prays A LOT, she wants to say a virgin until her wedding night and she's really into it. I maybe could have taken the whole praying and church thing; but sorry, the thing with keeping her virginity took it too far for me. I respect religous people, I really do and I'm not trying to judge anyone here, just pointing out that I just cannot sympathize with an MC who believes in something so strongly I think is pure discrimination. That's just me saying it might be little offensive for atheists and not so strict believers. It's beyond frustrating when the author pushes his/her faith so evidently on the reader. And I don't think it's okay.
What balanced out the 'goodness', though, was Kaidan. Doubtlessly he was also based on a cliché, the player incarnate - thankfully he wasn't just that. There's a tragic twist to his story and I'm not talking about soap-opery-drama in the style of I-can't-let-you-go. This boy is broken and their realationship is doomed from the beginning to be non-existent. There's no sweet-talking or floating on cloud nine or crushing on each other - this is star-crossed romance at its best.
For all Anna's goodness - here comes Kaidan's badness. His job is to rip hearts out -literally. He's not your average sweet guy hiding behind a brooding, reserved facade. He's broken and wicked and hot and cruel in his own twisted way. In the first half of the book we get to see their relationship developing, showing us different aspects of his personality which seems so shallow in the beginning and I ate it up. The second part was more slow-paced with hardly any Kaidan and long time leaps inbetween. The romance really was everything I could have asked for - flawlessly bittersweet, just as I like it.
My only complaint was that it doesn't go anywhere from where it leaves off at the end of the first half and after that temporary 'end' Kaidan more or less disappeares, so I had to deal with Anna without him as distraction. So no progress on their behalf - except that Anna rose a few notches in my respect scale during the party scene - I couldn't believe the girl could actually be fun. But then again I totally adored the oarty scene and it kind of leaves hope for her for the sequel. The entire ending was absolutely epic - if that isn't a showdown I don't know what is.
So I'm taking away one star for the pushy religiousness, and for her father (no I don't think it's suitable for a supposedly kick-a** demon to be bawling like a baby) and I'm giving four amazing stars for the plot and mostly for Kaidan, of course.
"I know I'm just a human woman, but so help me, if anything happens to her while she's with you--"
"I assure you she'll be in good hands."
"Mm-hm, that's part of what I'm worried about." She pointed at his hands. "Hands off, mister."