Review: The Devil's Reprise by Karina Halle



Given a second chance, music journalist Dawn Emerson and guitarist Sage Knightly are reunited, only to have their lives threatened again by a demonic bargain. The sequel to THE DEVIL’S METAL, from USA Today bestselling author Karina Halle.

When Dawn Emerson got the chance to go on tour with her favorite metal band, Hybrid, she thought she landed the writing gig of the century. But what started off as a dream for the budding music journalist quickly turned into a nightmare that she and guitarist Sage Knightly barely escaped alive.

Now, months after they went their separate ways, Sage invites Dawn to accompany him on his first solo tour across Europe and write about it for Creem Magazine. But like the last tour, nothing is as easy as it seems. Sage is a broken man on the path to self-destruction and Dawn isn’t sure if she’s the right person to save him. And aside from having to pick up the pieces of their burgeoning relationship, they have to negotiate the mysterious new photographer assigned to Dawn’s story, as well as vindictive promoters and demonic groupies they thought they’d never see again.

Because this time, it’s Dawn who made a deal with the devil and the only thing worse than having to uphold a bargain with the prince of darkness is not remembering how you’re supposed to pay it back.

It may be with their souls.
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ARC provided by author.

Review

In the first of this two book series, we learned that at fifteen Sage Knightly made a deal with the devil, hoping to someday get everything he ever wanted. And he did, but talent, fame, fortune, and his band Hybrid going down in history came with a hefty price tag—his life. Or at least, it was supposed to cost him his life, by his 28th birthday. Instead he lost some of the people closest to him but was given a reprieve. He fought the devil and somehow came out alive. 

The Devil's Reprise begins with Sage's POV, who since Hybrid’s demise has recorded a solo album, Sage Wisdom, and is living on borrowed time, drowning out the guilt that eats at him, every thought, every memory, every lyric, the only way he knows how. 

“Sex and drugs and booze and sleep. This was my new life. The rock and roll played somewhere in the background, a reminder of where I came from. But I didn’t even know where I was headed.”
—Sage

His manager Jacob, weary of Sage’s feeble attempt at muddling through, convinces him to call in reinforcements. Dawn Emerson. She’s just out of college, and still reeling from her time spent with Hybrid, with Sage, and everything they endured during that fateful last tour. The tour she covered for Creem magazine, cinching the infamy for which he had sold his soul. She helped save Sage, and now it seems as if he may need to return the favor.

“I just know she might need help. Somewhere deep in this dead old chest of mine, I feel like her story is just getting started.”
—Jacob

He invites Dawn to come along on his first European tour, to cover it and to keep her close just in case Jacob’s feeling is right, and maybe even because Sage misses her, needs her. The two shared a lot more than horror during that last tour.

“’I really miss you.’ I fucking meant it. But she’d never know how much. She’d never know that I’d give anything for her to try to fix me again.” 
—Sage 

Once in Europe, things don’t exactly go smoothly—from the photographer/babysitter Creem sent to accompany Dawn, to the Parisian promoter, Angeline, who seems to want nothing more than to dig her French, manicured fingernails into Sage’s back a few times. 

He is super popular overseas, but unfortunately for them, the scariest things they encounter on this trip are not fanatical fans. Something might be after Dawn, over a deal she doesn’t even remember making. 

“I don’t know why I didn’t keep walking down the stairs, why I was so drawn to this person coming down the hall like a regular hotel guest. 

Maybe because in my heart I knew he wasn’t a regular hotel guest.”
—Dawn

Between Sage, Jacob, and Max, the photographer, they try their hardest to keep Dawn safe and figure out exactly what they are up against. But the underlying threat isn’t the only tension felt throughout the book. Sage and Dawn are like two magnets, drawn to each other at certain angles, and pushing apart at others. She loves him, and it’s obvious he feels something for her, too. The question is whether he will ever let himself give in to anything besides his desire for her. 

“Being inside her, so close to her, making her come with me, watching her want me…I got hard again just thinking about it, and my heart…my heart was getting soft.”
—Sage

The sex scenes were explosive; whether inside either Dawn or Sage’s head, it didn’t matter. Sage is just so hot, and surprisingly sweet given his mindset at the beginning of the book. And Dawn is just plain awesome, and I love the way she idolizes him, as a musician as well as a man. 

“In this world, it was only me and Sage, the muse and the master, the man who created bliss for me in so many fucking ways. His talent knew no bounds.”
—Dawn

This pair’s sexual chemistry jumps of the page, making you wish you could just push them together and let them go at it. Of the three couples of Halle’s that I have read, I feel this is the most sizzling duo. From their first sexual encounter on the tour bus in “The Devil’s Metal,” I felt their inhibitions were lower and connection hotter than any other, and given the era in which this story takes place, I think that is pretty dead-on. But as sexy as it was when they were getting it on, it was equally as poetic. 

“We both clung to each other, riding out the crescendo together, making sure we were feeling it as one. One beat. One note. One song.”
—Dawn

And always with the music. You can feel Halle’s love for music in her writing, in any of her books, but it’s never as present as in this series. The way she describes the concert scenes, making you feel like you are right there—standing just off of the stage with Dawn as she watches Sage perform, absorbing the music as it washes over her and feeling the audience’s enthusiasm—I’m sure speaks volumes to her prior work as a music journalist. 

“We were all joined together in this poetic web, maybe all feeling different things and taking away different stories and lessons, but we were all feeling. And sometimes in this world full of war and strife and daily shit that made you numb, that’s really all you needed.”
—Dawn

So, between the shaky ground on which they try to settle some semblance of a relationship, and the various supernatural terrors, I was completely on edge, all the way up until the finish. And I would be lying if I told you I didn’t get a little teary at the end, and not only because of certain incidents that I obviously won’t give away, but because this is the last of this series! And it was one hell of an ending. My only complaint would be that I wish the epilogue was longer, but the story was wrapped up perfectly so that is really just me being greedy. 

“There was nothing so curiously sad as a great concert coming to an end.”
—Dawn

I happen to think that line applies to a great series, as well. 

Once again, this is a five star read from this author. I don’t think there is a page in this book that I didn’t highlight at least one passage, if not three. And even though I am hopelessly devoted to the Experiment in Terror series, the music lover in me has to admit that this one is at the top of my list of favorites from Halle.

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