4.5 starsAs posted on booknook - YA book reviewsFirst, I'd like to Brenna from Esther's Ever After for gifting me a copy of this book! She is such a sweetheart! I had my eye on this series for a while now but just wasn't able to buy my own copy. So thank you Brenna, you're amazing!Fans of Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series will love this book! I've actually only read City of Bones so far, but there are a lot of similarities in style between that book and Exiled. I actually liked Exiles more than City of Bones. :D So if you like Cassandra Clare, definitely check out Exiled!Exiled is a super awesome story about demons, demon hunters, vampires, warlocks, trolls, and more! This is exactly the kind of story I like: magical powers, secret world/society that humans don't know about, corrupt organization, and war! Chase Williams—a demon hunter—is the main character in this story. He's part of an organization called The Circle, the purpose of which is to protect the world from demons. On his fifteenth birthday, he steps up to claim his elemental power, which is passed down through demon hunter bloodlines, but it doesn't come. Since he's now labeled 'powerless,' The Circle decides to exile him and his mother. And awesome, unexpected adventures ensue!I loved Chase's character because he actually reminded me a lot of myself, and as a girl, I don't usually relate that well to male characters. But I definitely saw a lot of myself in Chase and that was a pleasant surprise for me. He's loyal, determined, a little too stubborn, doesn't like to admit when he's wrong, and often gets a little overpowered by guilt. He's fiercely loyal to his friends so he hates it when his friends are put in danger because of his actions.Rayna was also a terrific character! She's sexy, badass, super smart, and talented. Rayna is half half-demon and half hunter, and possibly one of a kind. She has so many interesting and unique powers, that even she is still discovering. Plus she has cat eyes — that's awesome.There was a really interesting almost-romance brewing between Chase and Rayna. They start off kind of hating each other, but soon their jibes start straying away from dislike and towards the kind of playful banter that happens when flirting. Nothing ever officially develops between them, but the tension and chemistry are there, so I really hope this is something we see more of in book 2!What's great about Exiled is that it's so full of action and there is never a dull moment. Chase is constantly being attacked by demons, striking deals with vampires, or going on some adventure to discover the truth or rescue his friends. There are plenty of battle scenes, some of which are a little gory, but they're all described in wonderful detail and clarity. M.R. Merrick introduces us to a wide variety of characters and creatures, from goblins to trolls to shifters. At one point, Chase acquires an animal companion he names Rai. This is the most awesome bird ever and I totally want one! But she doesn't get introduced until near the end of the story, so I won't reveal too much about her awesomeness. :PSpeaking of the end, it's really quite sad and totally had me tearing up, which was a little embarrassing since I was at an airport. :D But this is definitely an intriguing story that any magic lover or urban fantasy addict will enjoy! There are so many awesome characters, intriguing lore, and new worlds to learn about. Merrick really excelled at creating interesting characters with interesting and unique personalities. Each one had a very distinctive voice and I fell in love with all of them for different reasons.Exiled is a self published book, but you'd never know it. Many people are turned off by self published books — and I often am too — but I really hope that doesn't dissuade you from picking up Exiled. During my reading, there was never a time where I was thinking, "This is a great story but it could really use some editing." The story flows well, the characters are interesting and develop, and I didn't encounter the spelling/grammatical errors that are often present in self published works. Exiled is a great book and I can't wait to read the second one in the series!