Immortal Hope: The Curse of the Templars
by Claire Ashgrove
Cover Artist: Scott Grimando
Review by Harriet Klausner
Tor Books Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765367587
Date: 03 January 2012 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In 1119, nine Knights of the Templar excavated holy relics beneath the Temple Mount. The archangels warned them not to dig there, but they disobeyed. Their punishment is to combat Azrael's demons. Each demon that they kill places a dark mark on their soul so that eventually they will lose the light and turn into evil Knights of Azrael.
By 2011, six Templars remain haunted and loyal. They know their time is shortly over unless the Seraphim bring salvation before Azrael obtains the eight remaining relics needed to defeat the Almighty.
In Atchison, Kansas History Professor Anne MacPherson has six weeks left to complete her thesis on the Knights Templar. She has been aware for over three hundred years, that on All Hollows Eve, Azrael's demons walk the earth. Cursed Templar Knight Merrick du Loire believes Anne may be his salvation as she possesses a relic that Gabriel gave to protect when he saved her from her Salem witch-hunt. However, attracted to the brave professor, he knows he must take her to the Temple Mount for her to heal whomever she is supposed to save. If she chooses him, she has marked him for death while he fears for his cousin who is on the edge of changing sides. Meanwhile Azrael will extract a price from those like Anne who oppose him.
Key to the first Curse of the Templars urban fantasy is the readers will quickly believe in the curse, centuries old knights, demons, other morphed evils, and a wonderful history professor. The story line takes one page to set the tone of the curse and from there Claire Ashgrove cleverly builds her world as readers obtain a strong sense of the Templar past.
Anne is a fascinating protagonist as she is a bookworm who loves research, faints at the sight of blood, and cannot kill a roach; yet she is the chosen one to wield a sword and fight demons. Much of the story focuses on Merrick's paradoxical dilemma. He protects mankind against demons; yet each time he kills one of Azrael's minion, his soul is marked. Thus as he accomplishes his mission like he has for almost a millennia, he knows each dead demon takes him one step closer to becoming part of Azrael's evil horde as some of his brothers have before him. Making it more difficult for him is after he meets his salvation he knows he must let her go to save his cousin's soul.
Ms. Ashgrove deploys historical facts to anchor her delightful mythos, but wraps them inside an exhilarating story line. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this superb thriller as it appears it will take a miracle for Anne and Merrick to make it.