Title: Devils’ Day Party
Author: C.M. Stunich
Genre: Fiction/ Love-Hate Romance/ YA/ Erotica
Source: Kindle Store
Favourite Quote: ‘I’ve never liked Devils’ Day, and I’ve especially never liked the party that follows it. But I always go. Always. Because if I don’t, they’ll find me anyway, and I’d rather be in a crowd, wearing a mask, than at home alone like I was that one night.’
Karma, the poor quirky purple haired girl, has always been on the radar of the popular rich boys at their Crescent Prep school; Calix, Barron and Raz. She’s an easy target they have fun with as they pull pranks, play tricks and make her life hell. The fact that she wakes up and finds herself staring at her blood on the steering wheel only to realise she has somewhat deliberately crashed her VW bug into Calix’s Aston Martin, doesn’t change the fact that they would have used her as their target for their special Devils’ Day party trick. Again.
It goes without saying, Karma is having the worst day of her life, so when she finds herself quickly driving away from her problems, she takes a turn too fast and ends up over the cliff. Only she wakes up to find herself back in her VW bug, with her blood on the steering wheel and Calix shouting at her from outside her window, along with all the memories of the last day still etched in her mind. Devils’ Day has only just begun. Again.
‘There’s blood all over my steering wheel.
I sit up, shaking, disoriented, certain that I must be dead. I read my quivering hand to my head and pull it away, staring down at the splotches of ruby red as I blink through the rush of memories. My stomach lurches as I remember driving along Highway 62, the tires skidding, the weightless feeling as I plunged into blackness.
I look around, but I’m not sitting in the woods, surrounded by the mangled remnants of my mother’s car. No, I’m at the gas station again, tucked inside of Little Bee, her front end buried in the side of Calix’s Aston Martin.
Well. I wasn’t expecting that. I don’t know what I expected but I guess I should have seen that erotic shit coming half way through. I just didn’t think I’d find it in what was essentially a YA love/hate bully romance.
I didn’t know what to anticipate when I saw the groundhog day plot of this book, no one wants to read the same thing over and over again, but I was intrigued and became surprised by how much I was drawn into the story. Karma having to live the same day all over again, but each time she tries a new approach to see where her story would take her, it almost always ends up with someone dead. Even when she starts using the time loop and previous knowledge to her advantage to try and get to know those around her and to get all the boys to confess their true feelings to her, it was surprising and kept the pace interesting, it was only when it twisted into this reverse harem erotic situation that I kind of lost the interest. That being said, I don’t know how she was supposed to choose between the boys after everything she had been through with them through various timelines anyway, so I can understand the premise. It just wasn’t for me.
I did enjoy the character build up through out the Devils’ Day loop and how Karma began to come out of her shell from a self-involved miserable girl being tired of her life and the constant bullying, to standing up for herself and accepting that life is just too short to be worried about trivial things. I liked how she sometimes took a day off to just be with her family and avoid the inevitable repeat of the day and the guys who made her life complicated. The fact that she could still get lost in her paintings surrounded by her loving family whilst knowing it was all going to be forgotten when she fell to sleep, just helped her become a stronger person who just wanted to live in the moment and accept that her life isn’t as bad as she once thought.
The build up for the bad boys was also really interesting, the reasons they were thrown into a school in the middle of nowhere, the connections they share as well as the unspoken feelings towards our protagonist individually. It made you fall for each of them with their individual lost and broken personalities coming through the pages. The fact that somewhere deep down they had glimpses of previous timelines spent with Karma which started to change the atmosphere of the time loop starting at the car crash into Calix’s Aston Martin from tense hatred to an unspoken friendship and acceptance.
It became easier to understand how they could go from loathing Karma to acknowledging that she told the truth about her feelings for them throughout the story.
I particularly liked Barron and his quiet disposition, always watching and waiting for his moment whilst keeping up his hot and cold nature. Collecting memories of Karma throughout each time loop without being able to explain it but not really wanting too. His acceptance that something mysterious was at work but only caring about what he could express through his artwork of Karma was all he needed to convince him that she was something he treasured and wanted. It was endearing and whilst it didn’t make sense, was a lovely aspect of the story I really liked.
‘”I debated whether to give you a male or female,” he says, flicking his eyes down, as if he can see the dead butterflies lining the forest floor. His dual-colored gaze turns back to me, terrifying in it’s intensity. “After a while, I knew it had to be a male.”
“Why?” I ask as Barron steps back, gently extracting the flashlight from my grip.
“Because,” he says, his mouth a wry twist of lips, darkly playful, almost… interesting. “I knew you’d never appreciate an analogy where the female is kept trapped in a resin cage.”
Overall, whilst I wasn’t particularly impressed with the relationship ending, I actually thought it was a good story. The whole idea of Devils’ Day in their small town where all rules are thrown out of the window, an excuse to dress up and hide yourself behind a mask whilst celebrating magic and nature with alcohol around a huge bonfire. Having our protagonist re-living that day over and over surrounded by damaged rejected teenagers was definitely a compelling pull to the story that I didn’t want to put down.
I crashed my shitty yellow VW Beetle into Calix’s Aston Martin.
To be fair, he deserved it.
But Calix and his friends, Barron and Raz, they don’t see it that way.
Not that it matters.
They’ve bullied me for years, and I’ve never known why.
At least today, they have something real to be pissed about.
All of which would be fine, if today was a normal day.
But it’s not. It’s far from normal.
My mantra has always been: this too, shall pass.
But not today.
Not the worst day of my life.
Hot bullies, busted cars, and pain.
Somebody kill me now.