Book Review: Succubus (The Executioner Book 1) by Brandon Varnell

Christian, one of the church's best Executioners (killer of supernatural creatures), gets sent on a mission to kill a dangerous succubus only to discover that while there is definitely something strange about the way men act around her, she may not be a succubus at all. As Christian starts to fall for Lilith, his goal changes from killing her to protecting from all the other supernaturals who seem to be so intent on making her theirs.

Title: Succubus
Book Number: Book 1 of TBA
Pages: 324
My Rating: 2 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon


*I received an ecopy of this book via YA Bound Book Tours. This has in no way influenced my review.*

I was drawn to this book by the gorgeous cover, but unfortunately the writing inside the book didn’t live up to it for me. I’ll just make some lists.

Things I Disliked:

– The characters were kind of flat and extreme. Christian and Lilith were both super straight-laced and good without much personality other than that.

– There was too much description of minutiae, like every little step of the characters’ mornings (stepping out of the shower, wrapping a towel around their body, walking to the closet, putting on underwear, looking at their clothes, choosing this shirt and these pants, looking in the mirror), every article of clothing in every outfit that every character wore, the appearance of characters (which would’ve been great if only described once, but it kept being repeated)… I feel like most of the book consisted of those kinds of trivial things.

– There was a lot of repetition of ideas. Like, “She loved this store. This was her favorite store. She really enjoyed shopping in this store.” (That was not an actual quote, just me making up an example.)

– Dialogue was often stilted, unrealistic, and also repetitive. And the bad guy was supposed to sound old-timey, using words like thou and hath, but it just sounded like a few archaic words were thrown into otherwise modern speech.

– There were unnecessary POVs, and all the POVs sounded the same. They were in third person, but I subscribe to the belief that even third person POVs should sound a little different.

– The Science Division, the place where they develop the weapons/technology, was ridiculous. It didn’t impact the story, and maybe it was supposed to be ridiculous, but it still bothered me. Christian walked in there just to get some weapons, and one scientist exploded when whatever he was working went wrong, another injected himself with something and then his vein exploded while he screamed in agony, others were tied down with chains because of the side effect of rage from the drugs they were testing on themselves, and no one was phased by any of it because apparently violent death and agony are just your average day in the Science Division. That’s… that’s definitely not how scientists work.

– I didn’t like how women were portrayed. Almost every woman was so jealous of Lilith’s beauty that they were either flat-out mean, or they were polite but still disliked her. Even the cashier at the cafe couldn’t speak to her without a strained smile.

– Don’t even get me started on the complete lack of understanding (or maybe purposeful exaggeration) of the way women’s bodies work.

Things I Liked:

– Tristin was the most interesting thing, in a creepy, mentally unhinged sort of way, because of his “fascination” (I’d call it obsession and delusion) with Christian. Ok, mentally unhinged might be a bit harsh, but I wasn’t sure if I should be worried for Christian or just feel bad for Tristin that the person he thought was his best friend really didn’t like him.

– Despite Christian being kind of extreme, he was a little better written than Lilith at least. He was so used to being a loner and spending all his time killing monsters that sometimes he was just blunt or awkward or easily annoyed. I can’t say I blame Tristin for finding it fun to aggravate Christian on purpose. I’d probably do the same 😉

– The story itself wasn’t bad, just bogged down by all the things I disliked.

Other Things Worth Mentioning:

– There were lots of fight scenes, and the descriptions of some of the violence and gore was pretty graphic.

– There was a bit of a cliffhanger in that the story for Book 1 felt complete, but certain questions were dangled in front of the reader and not yet answered.

A lot of other reviewers have said this book is kind of like manga/anime. And the characters in the book loved reading light novels (I had to look it up, it’s like a novel form of manga, from my understanding). And this author’s previous work is either manga or light novels, according to Goodreads. So maybe this book was supposed to be like that too, or maybe it was just a byproduct of that being the author’s usual, but anyone who does like those things might like this book more than I did since I’ve never read those types of books. As it was, I had too many issues, and it just wasn’t for me.


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  1. Bookworm Brandee

    It’s too bad this didn’t live up to its potential. It seems like the author has the skill considering you said the story wasn’t bad and the dynamic between Tristan and Christian is interesting. It’s also interesting that the author’s previous work is manga and that does make me wonder if that’s why the writing was the way it was. Maybe the author is used to the pictures telling a story. (I’ve only read one manga at my older daughter’s request – she used to love it) Anyway, I’m sorry this wasn’t that great a read. Hopefully your current read is a good one. 🙂

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, it could’ve been a case of just not being for me, who knows. I can’t say I plan on continuing, but I’m definitely curious to know what will happen in the future between Tristin and Christian even though I’ll never actually find out lol.

  2. Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium

    Oh too bad! A succubus book! I love Succubus! I have a few of them in my WIP. How can they use MY FAVORITE fanatasy character ever and not give it like a super badass personality??? SMH! It’s crazy they didn’t make the Science Division relevant. So much potential there! BUT I HEAR YOU! I can’t really! I can’t books like that overly descriptive! I give you LOTS of credits for finishing the book 😉

    1. Kristen Burns

      I prefer incubi myself 😉 But that’s cool, I didn’t know your WIP had succubi too! And yeah, the Science Division was crazy lol. Maybe it could’ve been used to add more to the book. I do think the description of trivial things was probably what bothered me the most though simply because it just wasn’t necessary.

  3. Greg

    Too bad this one wasn’t better! “Love. It Can Kill A Man.” that’s a pretty good tagline lol. I don’t think I’ve ever read a succubus book, although I have seen a few episodes of Lost Girl. I think that’s the only real exposure I’ve had. Anyway- yeah bummer. I like the idea of monster hunters and conflicted loyalties, so it has a good premise. Flat characters though- that’s hard to get around. Lol about the Science Division.

    Interesting point about manga/ anime. I find some of that to be over the top sometimes so maybe that’s part of it, I don’t think it’d be my thing either.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, see, I’ve never read/seen manga/anime, so I figured maybe it is over the top sometimes and so maybe this was kind of like that. Especially the Science Division lol. That was probably supposed to be over the top since even the character thought they were nuts, but that’s just generally not my kinda thing. So yeah, maybe it just wasn’t a book for me.

  4. Luna & Saturn

    We’ve never read a succubus book before. We love anime & manga (we’re not going to get started), but this one doesn’t seem amazing – quite a few manga and anime do purposely exaggerate the way women’s bodies work, so it could definitely be that Varnell’s previous works is influencing the writing. Lovely review! <3

    1. Kristen Burns

      I figured it might’ve just been a purposeful exaggeration, so thanks for confirming my suspicions! I think maybe manga and even graphic novels in general can often get away with exaggerations better, but I prefer my regular novels more realistic. Thank you!

  5. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    It sucks when the premise of a book sounds awesome and the book itself just fails to meet any of your expectations. Obviously this book wasn’t for you. I have to say, I was intrigued when I saw a book about a succubus. It’s different and interesting and I would have been interested to know it if was any good. Luckily I don’t need to add this book to my TBR. Maybe it’s the type of book it is and the things which annoyed you are actually part of that genre. I have to say I had never before heard of a light novel so I’ve learnt something new today.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, it is disappointing when that happens. But I was wondering the same thing, if maybe the things that annoyed me are just part of the genre and therefore it simply wasn’t a book for me but might be for other people. And lol we both learned something new thanks to this book since I hadn’t know what a light novel was either 😛

  6. Lola

    I can see why the cover caught your attention, it sure is pretty! I can see why this one didn’t work for you, I like characters to have a bit of personality. If they only have one characteristic, they easily fall flat. And that description of small things sounds like it could really get on your nerves after a while. And the Science Division sounds really weird.

    From what I understand light novels are like short books with a few pictures, I think i have one or two of them. I used to watch a lot of anime and read manga, although nowadays not as much anymore. Great review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes, I think more than anything the description of all the trivial things was the most frustrating because it simply wasn’t necessary.

      I did read that light novels usually have a few pictures but that they’re sometimes turned into manga or vice versa. I wouldn’t be averse to trying manga I guess, but it’d have to be something that really interested me and maybe something on the more realistic end of the spectrum. Thanks!

  7. Jessica

    I used to watch anime. I was watching Samurai Champloo, but I stopped watching. I have read the manga Deadman Wonderland because the anime left you hanging. There was another one I read, but I can’t remember the name of it.