Succubus in the City

(This review first appeared on on May 6, 2008)

Nina Harper dishes up chick lit with a supernatural twist in her novel Succubus in the City.  As the title hints, this “Sex and the City” style story follows the exploits of four fashion savvy New York business women who also happen to be some of the Devil’s favorite demons. Lily, Desi, Eros and Sybil brunch, lunch and meet at trendy clubs. Their conversations alternate between talk of hot guys and work. Each of them has a demanding day job, but it’s their duties delivering souls to Satan that drive the plot.

Lily, once a Babylonian priestess, is the protagonist in this story. She works by day as an accessories editor for the fashion magazine Trend. By night she lures men to bed and takes their souls during sex. Those she selects are all self-centered and inconsiderate men, concerned only with their own pleasure. If a man should satisfy her needs before his, she can opt out to let him survive.  As pointed out—a few too many times in the beginning chapters­—succubi cannot tempt the truly righteous. Lily’s choice to rid the world of sleazy, inconsiderate lovers prevents her from being viewed as pure evil. The others’ satanic work is also spun as a humane weeding out of undesirables. In Harper’s created world, the Underworld and Heaven both fall under the Almighty’s Admin, demons are people, too, and demon girls just want to have fun.

Under Satan’s employ, living the good life isn’t too difficult for Lily and her friends. Each of them are physically gorgeous, wealthy and never gain weight no matter how many five star restaurants they patronize or pints of Ben and Jerry’s they consume. Lily keeps them apprized of the next trends. Their appetite for cutting edge fashion is de rigueur: the Devil, known to friends as Martha, is a chic socialite who indeed does wear Prada as well as timeless Channel suits.

All goes well for Satan’s favorites until Sybil’s intended victim is tipped off that he’s been targeted for a quick dispatch to Hell and turns nasty. The girls suspect they’re all in danger when Lily discovers she’s under surveillance. Nathan Coleman, a hunky detective, contacts her about her connection to a missing man. Soon Nathan insinuates his way into her heart as well as her life and Satan’s agenda may be in danger, too.  For the first time in three thousand years, Lily’s met a man who she believes may be the one who can negate her contract with the devil. The escape clause reads that if a man loves her and has sex with her for a month after finding out she’s a succubus, her mortality is restored. Nathan might be that man or he might be part of the fanatic religious sect out to destroy Lily and her demon friends, so what’s a succubus to do?

Harper’s novel is an entertaining read though not without flaws. The first few chapters make for a slow start with repetitive exposition and an over abundance of details about the demons girls’ apartments, wardrobes and dining habits. There are explicit sex scenes, but descriptions of fashion and food are more frequent. (Of the seven deadly sins, readers may fall prey to gluttony after one of Lily’s many indulgences in wickedly tempting desserts.) Those who love details about New York hot spots, top notch restaurant menus and Manolo Blahnik shoes will not be disappointed. Be forewarned though, this novel is definitely a set up for a series; the ending will not entirely satisfy the reader. Luckily, the release date for Succubus Takes Manhattan is November 25, 2008.

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