[I received a copy of this novel through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]
Mixed feelings here, as some things I definitely liked, and some others rather bored me.
(For the record: I have never read anything else by Derek Landy, so I cannot compare with his Skullduggery Pleasant series. I guess it's for the best, as I can judge this book as standing on its own, then.)
There's a fair share of good ideas in this novel. The strange bodyguard with an even stranger car that definitely sends bad vibes (and digests people). Deals with a Demon, a real one, that doesn't like being cheated and will demand rather gruesome things in payment (not just souls: it's also in how they're harvested). Characters able to transform in demonic creatures. The Road itself, carrying them onto weird paths and into weirder encounters. Little towns that look so nice at first, yet quickly reveal their true colours. Serial killers and creepy doll houses. A wooden witch that has her own human quality in spite of all her wrongdoings. Blood and gore and fighting—and the author doesn't shy away from those, nor from offing characters, I'm not saying which ones.
There's dark humour, too, sometimes in dialogue, sometimes in situations or descriptions. It fitted well enough with the overall serious matter of Amber having to run from her parents, since they want to kill and eat her. Her parents. Who are great in their own ways, see the scene where they handle the school's principal, and this is where, straight from the beginning, you realise that this family is definitely a screwed up one.
However, I couldn't warm up more to this novel, for two main reasons.
The first was the plot itself, as it quickly assumed a repetitive form: get in the car, arrive in new place, look for information, get into dire straits, solve issue, get into car again, rinse and repeat. There were vampires (of the rather traditional type) and witches and killers, but... after a while, the pattern became monotonous, and I found myself sometimes skimming to get faster to the final confrontation.
The second was some of the characters. Milo was alright, and hilarious in his own deadpan ways, although there's quite some room left for more development here. Amber... I couldn't decide whether I liked her or not—I'm somewhat annoyed at the whole "dull, vaguely fat teenager that every other guy calls ugly, but who turns into a sexy demon" (what's wrong with being just plain average, and why did she have to be called on it anyway?). As for Glen.... Uh, he's the kind of character you will either find incredibly sweet and bubbly, or incredibly annoying from being too chatty—and also too stupid to live. After all, the guy ended up with a certain dark mark for basically just... nothing? Being an idiot? I just couldn't stand him anymore after a while.
There's no romance, though. No useless love triangle. If only for that, I am glad!
I'm still somewhat interested in this series, as the ending opens up on pretty gloomy and dangerous prospects, but this will be more the kind of novel I'll borrow from the library, not buy. 2 to 2.5 stars.