Review: Borrowed Souls and Rogue Souls – Chelsea Mueller
by Chelsea Mueller
Series: Soul Charmer #1
Also in this series: Lost Souls
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Callie Delgado always puts family first, and unfortunately her brother knows it. She’s emptied her savings, lost work, and spilled countless tears trying to keep him out of trouble, but now he’s in deeper than ever, and his debt is on Callie’s head. She’s given a choice: do some dirty work for the mob, or have her brother returned to her in tiny pieces.
Renting souls is big business for the religious population of Gem City. Those looking to take part in immoral—or even illegal—activity can borrow someone else’s soul, for a price, and sin without consequence.
To save her brother, Callie needs a borrowed soul, but she doesn’t have anywhere near the money to pay for it. The slimy Soul Charmer is willing to barter, but accepting his offer will force Callie into a dangerous world of magic she isn’t ready for.
With the help of the guarded but undeniably attractive Derek—whose allegiance to the Charmer wavers as his connection to Callie grows—she’ll have to walk a tight line, avoid pissing off the bad guys, all while struggling to determine what her loyalty to her family’s really worth.
Losing her brother isn’t an option. Losing her soul? Maybe.
I’m reviewing the third entry in the Soul Charmer series tomorrow, so I figured I’d do a couple of quick reviews for the first two books in the series.
Callie was raised to put family first, so it’s no surprise she’s broke from trying to stay on the good side of the law while constantly bailing out her druggie brother. This time, though, he’s gone too far. He’s deep in debt to the local mobster, and the only way to get him freed is for Callie to rent a soul and commit a crime for the mobster. Renting souls is dangerous business, and the Soul Charmer, a creepy old man, has cornered the business, but the interesting part (to the mobster and police at least) is that it muddles your fingerprints and DNA. Callie can’t afford the rental, so she agrees to do odd jobs for the Soul Charmer, like repo’ing souls from various colorful characters. As her week proceeds, and after the Soul Charmer imbues her with some of his magic, Callie finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into the shady side of Gem City. Can she save her brother – and her own soul?
The Soul Charmer series is gritty urban fantasy with a strong romantic element. While this definitely suffers a lot from “first book” syndrome (notably in the uneven pacing), this was still pretty fun to read. I’m not usually one for too much of the “working for the mob”/morally grey stuff, but the paranormal element was intriguing. The premise is certainly original and the book left me wanting to know more about how the whole soul rental business worked.
by Chelsea Mueller
Series: Soul Charmer #2
Also in this series: Lost Souls
Publication Date: July 9, 2018
Callie Delgado volunteered to apprentice to Gem City's Soul Charmer. He'd forced the soul magic ability into her, but now it was hers. She'd learn to control her body's reaction to rented souls or go up in flames. Literally.
She exchanged her chance to escape the darker side of Gem City to save her brother. Now she needs to keep him sober and safe, try to mend family ties, and avoid the mobsters who have too much interest in the magic of borrowing souls.
But when bodies begin dropping at the Soul Charmer's door, it's up to Callie and her partner Derek to track down the person killing soul renters. The Charmer wants retribution, but Callie is determined to get justice even if it means putting herself directly in the sights of the murderer.
If she wants to stay on the Soul Charmer's good side, Callie must confront her enemies head-on and learn to command rogue souls.
...and hope someone she loves doesn't become the next victim.
As the Soul Charmer’s apprentice, Callie’s resisting being drawn further into the seedy underbelly of Gem City – and failing. When the body of a teen boy is dumped on the Soul Charmer’s doorstep, she and Derek commit to finding justice. Someone’s trying to cut in on the Charmer’s business, and the only way to stop the deaths is to stop them. How far will Callie and Derek go to put an end to the threat once and for all?
First off, I loved the word building in this book. It’s also action packed and I felt the pacing was greatly improved over the first book. We get to see a lot more of Callie’s family in this one (including introducing Derek to Zara), and Callie’s desire to put her family first conflicts regularly with Derek’s desire to protect her. While we see a progression of Callie and Derek’s romance, I wish there’d been a bit more romance. It was overshadowed quite a bit by everything else going on.
My biggest pet peeve about the book is that it ended on a humongous cliff hanger. I know it’s a series, but the book was good enough to make me pick up the next one without that, and honestly it overshadowed my satisfaction of them wrapping the main conflict in the book.