As a long term romantiphobe it makes zero sense that I eagerly await the next book by an author who writes romance novels, but that’s the voodoo Chris Cannon has somehow managed to place upon me. After laughing at myself because of my accidental enjoyment of my first few Chris Cannon reads, I now get smiley when I realise there’s a new book on the horizon. See? Voodoo!
I don’t have to work to get into Chris’ books. I’m sucked in right about the time the main character is described as a bookworm. So, about page 1.
Meena lives in Crossroads, a small town in Southern Illinois with farmhouses and cornfields, a place she describes as “boring with a huge helping of judgmental”. Entertainment in Crossroads consists of the diner, library, pageants and bonfires. Meena isn’t a pageant kind of girl, unlike her older sister, so she spends a good portion of her time hiding out in the library. She lives in books and can’t wait to go away to college.
All of the trouble that follows Meena applying for a summer cleaning job with
Wacky Winslow Old Lady Winslow Carol can be traced back to her need to feed her addiction to books, but as a fellow hopeless book addict I understand the pain of the money to book ratio only too well.
One of the reasons I liked to live in books is that real life mostly let me down.
Meena’s new job also requires she collects Carol’s orders from Madame Zelda, a fortune teller, whose nephew (sort of) is staying with her for the summer. I say ‘sort of’ because Zelda is actually Jake’s mother’s second husband’s aunt. Naturally Meena and Jake cross paths and then they’re practically insta-kissing, followed soon after by some insecurity and jealousy, then more kissing.
I was kind of afraid he’d forget about me as soon as another girl came along.
Previous Chris Cannon books I’ve read have been fun, bantery smooch-fests. This book also features some lip locking but a tad less banter than I’ve come to expect from Chris’ books. However, this one also includes some entertaining supernatural elements.
Witches, demons, spirits and vampires also make Crossroads their home, which makes for some interesting dynamics. Along with the good ol’ faithfuls like spells, wards and salt lines,
there are also imaginative additions like Super Soakers fuelled with holy water! I chuckled whenever a vampire said something “sucked”.
“Is it just me, or do you have a sense of impending doom?”
My favourite characters were Sybil, the vampire, and the familiars, Goblin and Sage. Bane, the crossroads demon, was an early contender but he creeped me out with his desire to keep touching Meena’s hair. He’s not the only supernatural being who seems fuzzy on the whole consent thing.
“You’re reading about demons? I’m flattered.”
Carol and Zelda, who seemed quite powerful in the lead up to the events in this book, disappointed me by seeming to accept the hands they were dealt without the fight that I expected from them. If there’s a sequel I’d love to see what they’re truly capable of.
It’s not a Chris Cannon book if I don’t get to drool over the food. I craved apple pie, pizza, hamburgers, chocolate shakes, cake, donuts,
cinnamon rolls, bacon, and ice cream during this book.
“Remember our family motto,” my dad said. “With ice cream, everything is possible.”
A few niggles and question marks (spoilers are included here!!):
I personally found some of the terms used, including “batshit crazy” and “nuts”, cringey. I also feel the language used when discussing suicide is important, so much prefer seeing ‘died by’ rather than ‘committed’ suicide.
When Meena says early on, “No, but it might explain the drinking”, she’s talking about Jake’s father. I’ve checked a few times and definitely acknowledge I could have missed something but as far as I can tell the only parent whose drinking had been mentioned up to that point was Meena’s father.
There’s a door that’s too small for Meena and Jake to use but when it’s opened from the other side they have no problem entering the room. I didn’t see any indication that the door changed size in the meantime.
Sage, Meena’s familiar, uses a credit card when he’s in human form. I wondered where he stores this when he transforms into a cat again. Also, what happens to the human clothing of familiars when they transform?
I may have misread this but there was a section which seemed to imply that dementia is a mental illness. My understanding is that dementia is a condition of the brain and sure, comorbidities with mental illnesses can and do exist, but isn’t one itself.
If Meena leaves her body for a week while she’s astral projecting, how did she not die of dehydration? Did the people around her physical body somehow get her to drink during that time? (Not to mention her bodily functions.)
When Jake says, “Did you call me to start a fight?”, it was he who called Meena, not the other way around.
I wanted to know more about the physical, emotional and behavioural impacts of being on a demon’s payment plan. One character mentions being more quick to anger since they’ve lost part of their soul but I’m greedy; if a concept like having your soul gradually removed is introduced, I want to know exactly how it works.
While this story is self contained there’s definitely room for a sequel. I’ll be hitching a ride to Crossroads if the story continues. I need to see a pageant in this town!
Content warnings include mention of mental health and attempted suicide.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Entangled Teen, an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC, for the opportunity to read this book.
Once Upon a Blurb
When a summoning goes awry, suddenly booknerd Meena’s summer job becomes something drastically different. Instead of cleaning eccentric Carol’s house, she’s bound to a demon as his soul-collector. Soon Meena discovers that the boring, pageant-obsessed, bonfire-loving town that she’s never fit in to is a hotbed for soul-sucking demons, demon-hunting witches, and vampires who just wanna have fun … And then she comes into her own powers.
Could things get any stranger? Good thing she meets new guy Jake – who gets her and still hangs around.
When Jake’s mum sends him off to his Aunt Zelda’s for the summer, he thought he’d be bored. But nothing is what it seems in this town. His aunt isn’t just odd, she’s a witch who fights demons and tries to maintain the magical balance of the town. Jake should get the hell out of there and, he would leave, except for bad-ass newbie witch Meena, who looks at him like he matters.
He never counted on sticking around, but Meena’s bound to a demon who wants to destroy her soul – and Jake’s finally found someone worth fighting for.