((I received a free copy of Rebirth from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review)).
Liz Brantley has a gift she wants to return.
Able to see and fight demonic forces, she has spent her life alone, battling the minions of hell bent on her destruction, running from the God who gave her this curse. Drawn to her abilities, the demon Markus unleashes havoc on her hometown and pulls Liz further into the throes of battle.
She’s desperate for a normal life.
When she meets a mysterious man who seems unaware of the mystical realm that haunts her, the life she’s always wanted moves within reach. But her slice of normal slips from her grasp when an old flame, Ryland Vaughn, reappears with secrets of his own. Secrets that will alter her destiny.
Torn between two worlds, Liz is caught in an ancient war between good and evil.
And she isn’t sure which side to choose.
I think it goes without saying at this point that I am a sucker for cover design. I’m an intensely visual reader and I love an evocative cover. Plus, I love paranormal romance. When I saw this cover? It was a no-brainer to request a review copy and hope for the best!
I’m happy to report that this book delivers on all counts. Rebirth is an intensely emotional thrill ride of faith, love, redemption, and spiritual warfare within the physical realm (aka, lots of fights scenes against demons). And I’m going to have to buy a hard copy just for the cover.
One defining attribute of urban fantasy is author voice. A strong voice covers a multitude of small issues with plot, characters, etc. A flat, obnoxious, or nonexistent author voice is a surefire reason to close the book. McNew’s voice is vivid and memorable, with a nice edge of sarcasm and a heart-rending ability to pour herself onto the page. She’s said many times that Rebirth is drawn from personal experiences, and that gives the novel a sense of authenticity and truth that propels the reader through every scene. Love it or or hate it, there is no denying the potency of McNew’s narrative.
Liz and Ryland are a solid addition to the alpha male/sassy, kickbutt female duos in urban fantasy fiction. They fight baddies, they fight each other, and when they’re on the same side? They’re a force to be reckoned with. The supporting characters are also solid, and like Mike Duran’s The Ghost Box, McNew manages to find a way through my ‘no angels in fiction’ blockade. Her world-building of angels/demons is simple, fits a Christian worldview, and most importantly, acknowledges that both sides are warriors of either God or Satan, instead of just having them fighting for vague ideas of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ (a pet peeve of mine–if you’re going to use biblical concepts, then go all the way, please).
At times, I felt like the book came on too strong. One moment when Ryland was confronting Liz about her bad habit of running away from people who love her involves him grabbing her, hoisting her over her shoulder, and then physically restraining her until she breaks down. I know these are tropes of urban fantasy, and I get that it’s part of this couple’s unique dynamic. To be fair, McNew emphasizes that Ryland is gentle with his restraining. Even so, this scene, and other fiction that uses this kind of scene, makes me feel a little uncomfortable and queasy–which I’m sure wasn’t the author’s intention.
Note: this is a PG-13 read. Lots intense fight scenes, some strong sexuality, and a hefty dose of the gritty darkness that you would expect from a story involving spiritual warfare and broken characters.
Final Verdict: Rebirth is a forceful, emotionally potent paranormal romance that pulls no punches and delivers on action, strong characters, romance, and a satisfying conclusion.