December 23, 2011

Review: Hunting the Five, by Maria Violante

Author: Maria Violante
Title: Hunting the Five
Series: De la Roca Chronicles (#1)
Publisher: Airam Publications (2011)
Disclaimer: Copy received for review purposes.

Buy your copy: Kindle

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Welcome to straight out of Hell.    

Stripped of her memories, her name, and her power, De La Roca has spent the last three hundred years as a mercenary to pay for her release from the inferno.
When the Angel returns to offer her a bargain, five final kills in exchange for true freedom, will she be able to rise to the challenge, or will she die trying?

Hunting the Five, (28,000 words / approximately 112 pages) is the first novella in the exciting De la Roca Chronicles from Airam Publications.    

This special edition comes with two sneak previews and a bonus short story!
GoodReads’ blurb

Another hard to rate book. Please, remember that 2-stars does not mean “bad”: it just means “not particularly recommended one way or the other”.

Let me be honest: the lore behind this novella feels quite thought out, in that there seem to be several groups with conflicting interests, each of them complex enough to keep you guessing at who’s the real good guy and who you can trust at all. The system behind the demon’s powers was ingenious as well: there are two orders of powers, smaller abilities and then one particular strength, unique to each demon, that is stored as a stone somewhere in their own bodies. I liked that.

Action is not scant, either: the novella follows the mercenary De la Roca as she tries to hunt the five demons that will end her contract with Hell once and for all, so expect powerful enemies at every turn.

So, what did I not quite like?

Complicated question. The first thing that comes to mind is the slow beginning. When you have under 30.000 words to tell your story, I think you have to make sure that your opening pages pack a special punch and this was not the case. The opening scene was told in the POV of a demon not related to the main plot, for example. Some fighting scenes were very visual and original, like the one taking place inside De la Roca’s head, but others were too sketchy for my taste. Though perhaps sketchy is not the right word. Convenient, then? Take the first battle, for example – a factory full of minions and a powerful demon. She waltzes in with no plan. She starts shooting and wins the day.

Of course, she didn’t win the day alone: she always had her demon horse, which, I have to admit was one of the things I liked least about Hunting the Five. I’m a fan of horses, don’t get me wrong. They’re noble and beautiful and everything. I just could not believe in or relate to a heroine that went around in horseback and whose mount entered rooms and houses with her while being while more expressive than any other character in the story – there was a huge amount of hoof-stamping, whickering, neighing and so on.

So, while this was an entertaining read and no glaring structural issues jumped out at me, I couldn’t connect with the book in a level that made me want to know how it would unfold in the next instalments. I felt that the story was too long in taking off, and by the time it did, the small details that annoyed me prevented it from hooking me. Because of that, I won’t tell you to go and buy your own copy – but I won’t tell you to stay away either. If you think this might be up your alley, then by all means give it a shot!


  1. I just set up google alerts on myself and was surprised to find this review. It's so weird and neat to find reviews that others have left for your books!

    So firstly, I wanted to say thank you for the time to read the book and review it. I appreciate your input a lot; I think I've learned more from my readers and their comments than anything else in my brief publishing career.

    Interestingly enough, I just re-released the book, and one of the first things I reworked for the revised copy was the beginning. I felt the same way you did, that it took a little too long to get off of the ground, and tried to make the experience of being in Rico's head reveal a lot more about De la Roca's character overall.

    As for Alsvior, well - I think it's obvious that Alsvior's not exactly a horse.

    The second book is currently published, and the revised copy of the first book has actually been put up as free (and that price is currently trickling to all major retailers - so far it's hit smashwords, apple, and b+n). If you find yourself bored, let me know, and I'd be more than happy to furnish you with fresh copies of both.

    Thanks again for the honest review, as it was quite astute.

    Maria Violante

    1. It was my pleasure! I'm glad you've chosen to revise and re-release the book, too. With a little bit of tweaking, it'd be a very interesting series!

      And, yeah, I know Alsvior is not exactly a horse :) But his horse-shape being inside a home or trotting in a parking lot was a bit difficult for me to wrap my head around, and that's what I was trying to say.

      Thanks for the comment!