I read the first two books back-to-back from the Soul Charmer series by Chelsea Mueller, so you get a 2-for-1 review special today! Check it out:
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This was such a unique book that surprised the heck out of me, because unique ideas seem to happen less and less these days (books, movies, etc.)! I have never heard of the concept of "soul renting," and I loved how Chelsea Mueller wrote the world to make it both fantasy and relatable. How often do you wish you could do something and not have it affect your conscience? If you're religious, you may think the only thing holding you back from doing something wrong is how it will affect your ability to get into heaven when you die. Well now, with soul rental, that problem is solved. Would I do this in real life? No. But it's a crazy interesting idea and one that is executed really well in Borrowed Souls.
Callie Delgado's brother is in deep this time. Held by the most powerful gang in Gem City, his life is in danger if she doesn't deliver on the promise he made to them: rent a soul, steal research from the local police, and deliver it to the gang leader. And there's only one person you can go to in Gem City to get that done - the Soul Charmer. Callie's soul intrigues him, and he agrees to let her rent a soul if she will work for him for two weeks by collecting souls that are past their due date to be returned. Assigned to collect with a gruff yet protective man named Derek, she slowly becomes more involved with the darker side of Gem City. And when things get complicated, Callie realizes she may have bargained more than just her services to the Soul Charmer.
The world is what really grabbed me in this book! The characters had so many layers to them, and every time I thought I knew where their development was going, the story took a turn. It felt post-apocalyptic, but at the same time, I also felt this could be an underground world that exists today. While reading, it definitely makes you feel like you've stepped into another dimension. Soul renting is fascinating to me, and the fact that Chelsea Mueller related is back to a fictional branch of the Catholic church made it all the more intriguing. Imagine priests telling you to keep your soul pure, and at the same time, they tell you go ahead and borrow someone else's soul and dirty that one up instead. It's dark and fascinating, and knowing how organized religion often works, it's not all that farfetched. Callie and Derek were a slow burn couple to an extent, but the reader also got an early-on glimpse into Derek's feelings for Callie. I loved how he would poke at her to get her to smile, and he read her like a book when she was upset. He knew when something was bothering her, and even when he couldn't see her, he was always there to back her up when things got scary. He genuinely cared about her, and for someone who worked as an enforcer for the Soul Charmer, it was the last thing I expected.
I am diving right into the second book now, and I can't wait to see where this goes!
I picked up reading this as soon as the first book was over, and now I am biting my nails at the thought of where the third book will go from here. Derek and Callie have grown so much as a couple, and I loved learning more about the Soul Charmer's business. The world created by Chelsea Mueller gets more and more intriguing the further I read, and I am loving all the unique facets to the soul renting concept. It's a series that keeps on giving!
Now the apprentice of the Soul Charmer, Callie is working constantly to learn how to control her magic and gain the upperhand with those who rule the underbelly of Gem City. With her brother living on her couch some of the time and Derek getting closer to her with each passing day, Callie is just starting to regain a semblance of normal routine. Then a soulless body is dumped outside the Soul Charmer's back door, and all hell breaks loose. Someone is out to take over the soul renting market, and they may be even more dangerous than the Soul Charmer himself. Now Callie and Derek have a new mission - find out who the interloper is and take them down.
As mentioned above, I loved how much Callie and Derek grew as a couple in this book! For a while, I only knew background information about Callie, while Derek remained a mystery. But in Rogue Souls, readers are introduced to a bit more of Derek's past and why he might be so determined to keep Callie safe. Callie's powers grow a lot more in this book, and perhaps the most fascinating part was that she began to talk to the souls she was collecting. It made it less of a transaction and more of a personal relationship between her and the souls. It wasn't so much about collecting a rented thing but instead building a sort of trust between herself and the souls she was bringing back. We also found out where the souls come from - and that was a mindblowing thing, at least for me! The one part I was not a fan of was how much Callie continued to let her brother and mother walk all over her. It happened a lot in the first book, and while she does get some more backbone in this book, I also wanted her to slap her brother. Just once. I hope that happens soon, because it would make me feel oh-so-much better.
I cannot wait to see where the third book goes from here! It's bound to be a wild ride, no matter where it takes us.