Slay by Kim Curran
Publisher - Usborne Publishing
Published - Out Now
Price - £6.99 paperback
Meet SLAY – they do two things and they do them well: they play killer music and they slay killer demons. When Milly, the lonely daughter of a world-famous opera singer, arrives home to discover that her mum has been taken over by something very evil, she finds herself in mortal danger. But the last people she expects to rescue her are the hottest boy band on the planet…
Kim Curran has a strong track record in YA from her parallel worlds Shifter series to her novel Glaze which a few years ago suggested there would be a social media application used for bad things (I know!!!!), so I was definitely intrigued what this new series would do and as I understood Buffy would be an influence I was ready to dive in. I was not disappointed and its an incredibly entertaining ride for fans of the slayer and also Supernatural.
Slay are the biggest band touring random cities and comprising the moody lead singer JD, the charismatic Tom on piano, the cheeky Connor on drums and on guitars the sarcastic Zeq and the silent Niv who communicates through sign language. Managed by a former girl band member they are now hugely popular and globally recognised. So far very One direction but after a show the team are less likely to hit a nightclub but instead suit up for battling demons trying to take over the world! A chance distress call from a young British student called Molly means the band and her cross paths where they find themselves too late to save Molly’s mother from being transformed into an ancient evil, but they do realise they may have happened upon a demonic masterplan to release a power that really would destroy the world. Molly and the band now must cross northern and southern America to uncover the truth and put everything on the line.
The Buffy parallel really makes sense in that the concept can sound wacky but in Kim Curran’s hands the story really comes to life. The action is relentless and it’s extremely well plotted as we uncover the reasons the demons have decided to make the move. Set piece after set piece keep the momentum going as we see the demon responsible for Molly’s mother transforming into a monster that has been aware of the group for some time. The world building is well told and its done more as characters talk about their personal experiences of the supernatural rather than simple exposition overload. The demons take over hosts (willingly or unwillingly) only recognisable by their black eyes. But the band have learnt to use weapons and technology to track them down.
The band Slay themselves really do come across as an immensely likeable diverse bunch of young teens. The sense of humour and way they both annoy and look after one another really rings true. Two main characters are JD and TOM. The former outside of singing is the taciturn brooding young man who has a personal reason to focus on the demon-hunting while in contrast Tom is the lighter soul who enjoys performing and can really capture a crowd. This forms an interesting relationship triangle with the arrival on the tour bus of Molly the intelligent researcher who is more than able to use her wits to find a way out of a situation. The villains being possessed also can channel human traits and indeed there are elements of snark which for this kind of book are compulsory.
I found this a very enjoyable read that avoids all the pitfalls of the concept and instead makes you swiftly read along hoping your favourite characters survive or get together. It is important to note that the story when required can go sombre as characters face death and violence and that balance of light and dark helps makes it stand out. It looks like the band are also due some more adventures later this year and I am more than ready to listen to their second album!