Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Berkley Publishing Group DAW: July 5, 2016
Source: Free from publisher
I’d go there again!
In a familiar-but-different San Francisco, a portal to another dimension opened eight years ago and spewed demons bent on conquering Earth. A handful of San Franciscans received minor otherworldly magical powers from the first demons to arrive. Ever since, smaller portals have opened that spew mini-demons who tend to take the form of the first thing they see, such as cupcakes. Cupcake demons, folks.
Evie is personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, San Francisco’s local demon-fighting superheroine, who also happens to be Evie’s best friend. Evie, Aveda, and their friend Scott are a few of the people who received magical abilities. Aveda Jupiter, in fact, does not have enough telekinesis to fight demons, so she relies on her physical abilities and a strong PR strategy instead.
Evie may not have the best job in the world, since Aveda Jupiter is the demanding celebrity type. But, she’s proud because she’s good at it, and her focus is on shoving all her emotions into the mental equivalent of an overflowing closet, also known as her Dead-Inside-O-Tron. Evie is incredibly easy to relate to, as she works in a job that kind of sucks, tries to raise her pre-teen sister, and struggles to keep a lid on her emotions. I loved her personal growth, her struggle to recognize and then accept her feelings and relationships.
Others who work on their team are Lucy, bodyguard and personal trainer, Evie’s precocious little sister Bea, and Nate, reserved scientist and physician who only focuses on evidence that can be proved. Lucy and Evie are close friends, but she and Nate are barely civil. They can’t stand each other’s opposite approaches to demon-fighting. Nate is all about the evidence, and Evie relies on her impressions. Then there’s Scott, reluctant team member who has minor healing abilities.
On the villainous side are the demons, and also Aveda Jupiter’s nemesis, popular blogger Maisy, who uses her blog as a platform to snark at Aveda.
Evie’s friendship with Aveda is fraught with tension, and it erupts in a totally believable and exciting way. Who hasn’t tamped down emotions for too long before finally blowing up? In Evie’s case, it results in a spectacular PR disaster. The relationship between Nate and Evie is pretty spectacular. They go from constant bickering to, well, more. I love how they grow to appreciate and understand their different characters and perspectives, and the baby steps Evie takes as her feelings change and grow.
There’s also plenty of action and suspense. Evie begins to play a larger role in saving the city from demons, her secret leaks out, and there’s a bigger nefarious plot afoot than small demons popping through small portals. The pacing is fast and even throughout – when there’s not a demon or social media disaster, there’s an interpersonal conflict.
Readers, I loved this book. I recommend it if you like contemporary fantasy with strong characters and relationships, action, suspense, diversity, and superheroes.
Superheroes Anonymous, which I reviewed way back in November 2014, was another fun, lighthearted and emotionally packed story about superheroes living in a slightly alternate modern world. This time, the setting is Chicago and the heroine is the antithesis of heroine – to begin with, anyway. She’s unwittingly earned the moniker “Hostage Girl” for her propensity for being taken hostage by the supervillains. I can’t wait to get my hands on the second in the series, Supervillains Anonymous.
If you’re into graphic novels, or want to try a superheroine graphic novel, look no further than Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal. It’s an enjoyable novel featuring a nerdy Pakistani American Ms. Marvel.