Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Demonfire by Kate Douglas

Dax is a demon. Unfortunately, after many years of being obsessed with killing, eating and fucking, he began to wonder if there wasn't more to life. Losing interest in the three mainstays of Demon life got him thrown out of the Abyss and into the void, where he drifted, bodiless and unable to do anything but remember. But because he was a demon too good for Hell, he came to the attention of the Rulers of Eden, the counterpart to the Abyss.

As it turned out, there was an invasion of Earth underway by the Demons of the Abyss. The Demons had opened a portal into Earth and were flooding into it- the small demons at first, but the more and more powerful demons can get through the longer it stays open. They ask Dax for his help in closing the portal and banishing the demons back to the Abyss. To help him fit in, they will provide him with a human body and give him access to his demon powers over fire and ice through a tattoo his human body will wear.

Ha agrees, and is sent through the portal into Greenwood, California. Greenwood isn't just the first step on the path to the Demon invasion of earth, but is also the home of Edwina (Call her Eddy) Marks. Eddy is a reporter who lives in town, not far from her dad Ed, who happens to be a widower. Without her at home, he's become a little strange, believing in tales that Eddy has a hard time taking seriously, such as Lemurians having a home in a cave in Mount Shasta, where they fled after their old home was destroyed. But she doesn't belittle her father for holding such beliefs/

One night, she comes home after a day of hearing very strange stories, such as one of her neighbors telling her that his cat was nearly killed by a garden gnome that had glowing red eyes and lots of teeth, to find a strange man in her shed, being menaced by a garden gnome with glowing red eyes and many rows of sharp teeth. Eddy is startled, but her new pet, Bumper, a mixed-breed cross between a pit bull and a poodle, takes well to the man, and while she hits it with a shovel, he fires a bolt of ice at the black mist that arises from the shattered statue, causing it to shatter. And then a bolt of fire destroys the remains of the black mist completely.

The man, of course, is Dax, and something happened to him on his way into Greenwood. He was attacked by a fire-breathing stone gargoyle that laid some kind of curse on the tattoo that allows him to access his demon powers. He's burnt from the thing's fire, and he's not sure what the curse will do. All he knows is that he's only got seven days to defeat the influx of demons. If he somehow manages to succeed, he can pass on and become part of Eden for the rest of his life. If he fails, he'll be returned to the void, to drift forever.

Eddy has a hard time believing his tale, but to be honest, having seen his powers for herself, she can't exactly deny that what he says might be true. And the stories she's been hearing for the last few days make her see that Dax's tale is truth. She takes him into her home for shelter, because even though Dax is injured, one of the things he has retained is his fast demon rate of healing. The next day, she shows him around the town and introduces him to his first taste of food, which he finds amazing. But when they return home at the end of the day, he home has been attacked by demons, and it leaves her house a mess.

She asks shelter of her Dad, but it's a little awkward, considering how much she is feeling for Dax. Dax feels the same, but he's still not used to a world where sex is an act of affection, not of combat or supremacy. But when he hears about Ed's beliefs about the Lemurians living inside Mount Shasta, he's able to confirm that Ed is correct- mostly. Actually, the Lemurians live in another dimension and are known demon-fighters, so perhaps they should ask for the help of the Lemurians in fighting the demons.

Saying goodbye to Ed, Dax and Eddy travel to Mount Shasta and dimension travel into its depths, where they enter the dimension of the Lemurians. But the Lemurians have given up on combat, and no longer feel that they should fight demons physically. The only two who disagree are Alton, the son of the Lemurian ruler, and his friend, Taron. Alton has been bored, and he can see that if he doesn't help Dax and Eddy, that the Lemurians will be next on the open buffet for the demons.

Leaving Taron behind to convince the Council that what he has done is right, he travels back to Earth with Eddy and Dax, bringing with him his crystal sword, which is made to destroy Demons. He also uses his sword to close the open portal to the Abyss, which means as soon as they destroy the demons already on earth, the danger will be ended. But while Dax and Eddy must deal with the curse, which is slowly bringing his tattoo to life and which only she can quiet with her touch, Alton is afraid that his sword will never awaken and begin to talk to him. If he cannot communicate with his sword, he will not be able to stop it from attacking Dax, who still smells like a Demon despite his human body.

But Dax begins to suspect that the Demon inhabiting the Gargoyle, the first one that appeared in town, is not a simple demon at all, and is smarter and more powerful than he was led to expect. But how can he love Eddy, and she love him back, when they will only have seven days to be together? Can he destroy the demon in that time, and prevent it from opening the portal to the Abyss once more?

I like Kate Douglas's writing, and this was a good book. At the beginning, I didn't have much of an interest in either Eddy or Dax, but I got slowly sucked into the book so that by the time I was halfway to two-thirds of the way into the book, I was invested in seeing the two of them end up together.

The one thing I found a little strange was that Dax seemed to have no interest in doing the sort of things he used to do as a demon. I expected him to be a little more interested in fighting and eating, and having his way with Eddy, but he acts with a commendable and almost unbelievable restraint. I mean, I know he said he was a Bad Demon, but still...

Eddy was more interesting a character. Readers can see she cares deeply about truth and about those she knows and loves. Even Bumper, the Mutt she doesn't intend to keep, comes off as an interesting character. My only objection in the story was the forthcoming story with Eddy's friend Ginny, which was forecast in the equivalent of sixty-foot high flashing Neon letters "SEQUEL COMING HERE!" I didn't mind the whole sequel-baiting, I just wish there was a more subtle way to do it.

This was a good and enjoyable story, a bit slow-starting, but definitely worth the read. By the end of the story, you will be rooting for Dax and Eddy to survive the battle and stay together. The ending was a bit of a shock, but a pleasant one. And I recommend this book as a good read.

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