Sixteen-year old Toby was trained by a family of hunters to kill shape-shifters — but he has a unique weapon in his arsenal. With a touch of his hand, Toby can lift the magical protection shape-shifters use to disguise themselves as human. It’s an unusual skill for a hunter, and he prefers to kill monsters the old-fashioned way: with a blade.
Because of his special skill, Toby suspects he may be a monster himself. His suspicions deepen when William, a jackal-headed shape-shifter, saves him from an ambush where Toby’s the only survivor. And Toby doubts William helped him for purely altruistic reasons. With his list of allies running thin, Toby must reconcile his hatred of shifters and the damning truth that one saved his life. It’ll take both of them to track down the monster who ordered the ambush.
And Toby needs his unlikely alley because he has a vicious enemy — the infamous Circe, who has a vendetta to settle against the hunters. Toby has to unravel the mystery of his dual nature. And he has to do it on the run — before Circe finds him and twists him to her own ends.
There are a lot of things that I liked about H.D. Lynn’s God’s Play, but unfortunately it wasn’t a book that grabbed me completely.
H.D. Lynn developed an interesting world where the monsters of old are alive and well in our modern times. The first generation of monsters are more human now than the younger generations, who can change from their human to monster form. I liked how the history of the world is told through two different viewpoints. There is the hunter viewpoint where all monsters are evil and they made the veil to hide better and therefore make it easier to hurt humans. The monster viewpoint is more along the lines of using the veil to hide and prevent further deaths of either group. You learn the world through flashbacks and have to infer what is going on.
In this way, H.D. Lynn does make the reader sympathize with both parties respectfully, but also see the dangers of both parties. I liked that. I like that there is no clear villian, just a bunch of people with differing opinions doing what they believe is right (except Circe and possibly Fennis). Of course, there are more people that are worse than others and are probably better off dead. However, this is more like the real world in that sense.
The writing is lyrical and has that otherworldly feel. I liked that, but it felt a bit too much at times. I felt disjointed and not with the characters during that time. The flashbacks are done with the real time prose. Whereas this is for some people, I felt confused and bored depending on the flashbacks. Some of them didn’t seem all that important, but there were some that I would keep. Most of the ones I would keep are Cassie’s, a gorgon who has a bad history with hunters and witches.
The one character that I could really connect with was Cassie. She’s a woman with a dark history, one particularly terrible for her, it’s hard not to feel for her. For her, the veil is the most important thing in the world. To be honest, I agree with her. Maybe not her actions, but I understand her motivations. That’s what’s important.
The book is written in three different viewpoints: William, Toby, and Cassie. Toby is the hunter boy with a strange ability. He is strong, opinionated, and snarky. I really liked him. I felt that he was interesting to read about. Though there were times I would have preferred he balled up and just demand answers. His flashbacks made sense given the circumstances as to how he ends up with William.
William is probably the one character that I wanted to really love. He’s soft and sweet. He had gone through addictions and is now trying to just survive. However, I felt with Cassie’s flashbacks, having William flashbacks wasn’t really needed. Cassie was enough to get the reader to sympathize with the monsters. William’s only seemed to be his own issues and why he hated Fennis. I personally feel that he could have used that with exposition which would have beefed up the chemistry with Toby.
As for the story itself, there are some interesting twists. The book also starts off really strong, but it falters slightly until about halfway. I actually struggled quite a bit with the book because I was bored most of the time. I felt there needed to be more action or more arguing between Toby and William. They seemed to join forces rather quickly and though the trust isn’t made fast, I felt there could have been more opposition. Especially since one character is an angry teen with a deadly power and talent to kill. I would think he’d argue more, but he felt a bit docile at times.
All in all, this book isn’t bad. It has an interesting world, the writing is good, and there are characters you can pull together to sympathize with. It just wasn’t a book for me. It took too long for me and I lost interest in what was going on because of that.