I don’t remember how I stumbled across K. M. Carroll now, but I’m glad I did.
I was excited to find a book that wasn’t your typical “teenager meets undead-but-still-hot-guy and falls in love.” Libby is a smart girl who knows her monster lore from video games and movies, and sees Mal for what he is. However, she’s not one hundred percent correct about that, and thus I learned about a type of creature I didn’t know much about. This gave the story an intriguing twist.
I loved how Carroll also used honeybees as a major element in this book. They truly have personality and play a key role. It was unique and interesting. The bees are my favorite secondary characters.
Libby is a girl I’d want to be friends with. She has lots of personality, isn’t focused solely on romance, and isn’t a Mary Sue (a wish-fulfillment character that’s a stand-in for the author).
Mal is nicely drawn as the love-interest/monster-that-needs-redemption. For one thing, he’s not so terribly evil that you think Libby is crazy for seeing hope for him. He has heroic qualities without being a stereotype of a hot, unattainable guy. He has already been dealing with his internal struggle against his nature, and getting the girl isn’t the driving motivation behind his quest for redemption. You have the sense he would do that anyway.
Bringing the two characters together is more about solving some threats to their world as a whole rather than a mere excuse for bedroom scenes (which there are none of in this book, thank you!)
I liked the magic system in this book. It is handled in a pseudo-science way rather than a supernatural way, although there are supernatural elements, too.
This book is appropriate for teens and adults. There is no foul language or sexual content. There is some action/violence (ie, there are physical fights) but no descriptions of gore.
I highly recommend Malevolent and its sequel Malcontent. The third volume, Malicious, should be available later this year.