Tag Archives: Demons

The Demon in the Dunes by Chris Grabenstein

Overview
Image result for death's excellent vacation book cover

Title: The Demon in the Dunes
Author: Chris Grabenstein
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Demons, Paranormal fantasy
Dates read: 22nd November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: I held up two warm beer cans.

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Synopsis

He’s reminiscing about the demon in the dunes and the summer of 1975. Will he finally be able to figure out what the demon was warning against all those years ago?

Thoughts

This is the prefect story to discourage idiots from smoking. I mean, the whole thing is just completely creepy and uncomfortable. And then, when you get to the twist at the end and the consequences are realised. Well, it becomes just that much more powerful and intense.

The Demon in the Dunes is a fun short story that uses the past and foreshadowing in a perfect way. It makes you want to race to the end to find out what the demon was doing there, even if that will ruin everything. I love stories that use foreshadowing well, it gives an extra sense of suspense to a story line that would not necessarily have it otherwise.

The Demon in the Dunes was a great short story that pulled me in from the very beginning. In fact, I kind of walked into a doorway while I was reading, I got that wrapped up in the book. Which is not always a bad thing…

<- The Heart is Always RightHome from America ->

Image source: Amazon

The Perils of Effrijim by Katie MacAlister

Overview
Image result for death's excellent vacation book cover

Title: The Perils of Effrijim
Author: Katie MacAlister
Series: Aisling Grey #4.5
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Demons, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 13th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: I’m a sixth-class demon.

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Synopsis

Effrijim just wants to spend his ten day vacation with the love of his life. But things don’t quite go as planned when a She-Bitch gets involved.

Thoughts

The first comment in my notes was “Poor Effrijim”. After all, this story is just one calamity after another. Just a whole series of problems that stop him from having a relaxing vacation and leave him feeling frustrated and ready to scream. It’s just not the optimal vacation and left me feeling seriously bad for Effrijim, even as I laughed and laughed at all of the bad that befell him.

Titania and Oberon made a great cameo appearance in this story. They’re altered story line was fun and entertaining. I also loved how militant and kick ass Titania was. After all, she is completely unorthodox and has been wronged. I also love how she decides to keep Oberon in line from now on…

Jim’s torture is what dreams are made of. It was the kind of torture and storyline that had me laughing happily throughout the entire story. I finished this with a huge grin on my face and a desire to just read more.

<- Seeing is BelievingThin Walls ->

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The Devil’s Jack by Laura Anne Gilman

Overview
Image result for dead man's hand book cover

Title: The Devil’s Jack
Author: Laura Anne Gilman
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Demons, Paranormal fantasy, Weird western
Dates read: 12th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: “But you waited.”

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Synopsis

Jack knew better. But he still made a deal with the devil. And now he’s Devil’s Jack, running errands for seven and seven and seven again.

Thoughts

A deal with the devil is never a good idea. But it is a really fun thing to read about. I mean, a deal with the devil is guaranteed to be an interesting beginning to a story. And a great driver for morally grey characters. After all, if they’re doing evil things, then it’s because the devil asked them to and it isn’t because they are evil themselves…

I love how although this is a story about a man who has sold his soul to the devil, it’s primarily about him outsmarting the devil. And the fact that both he and the devil know that even if he’s momentarily outsmarted the devil, it’s just a moment. A quiet little rebellion that ultimately does nothing for Jack.

This was a really fun and humorous short story. I absolutely adored it and had a huge smile on my face the whole time that I was reading it. It was funny and cute. Full of clever, witty moments and just a seriously enjoyable read.

<- What I Assume You Shall AssumeThe Golden Age ->

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The Last Master of Aeronautical Winters by Larry D. Sweazy

Overview
Image result for westward weird book cover

Title: The Last Master of Aeronautical Winters
Author: Larry D. Sweazy
In: Westward Weird (Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Demons, Weird western, Westerns
Dates read: 29th June 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Daw Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: It was like they were real, burrowing into my own eyes with anger and resentment or maybe doubt of my fortitude.

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Synopsis

They’ve been friends and companions for years. But it isn’t until his secret identity gets out that their friendship is truly tested in this fun little Weird Western story.

Thoughts

This is a fun little short story which features an illegitimate heir and cowboys. Demon hunting and secrets. It’s an interesting mix that features your ideas of a western cowboy. But also partners that with ideas of the monarchy, which kind of took me a little bit by surprise. A good read and one that I would probably pick up again.

I really liked the idea of cowboys going demon hunting on the mean streets. That the gunslingers are the ones who are bringing down creatures from hell. It made for a fun little diversion and journey that I really wasn’t expecting and thoroughly enjoyed.

I seriously enjoyed this story. It may not be one of those that is crazy, rich with detail and intense. But it was most definitely an enjoyable journey. One that I look forward to embarking on again in the future.

<- The Temptation of Eustace Prudence McAllenLowstone ->

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The Temptation of Eustace Prudence McAllen by Jay Lake

Overview
Image result for westward weird book cover

Title: The Temptation of Eustace Prudence McAllen
Author: Jay Lake
In: Westward Weird (Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Demons, Weird western, Westerns
Dates read: 16th June 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Daw Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: His shout smoked the air blue and called dark clouds into swirling overhead.

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Synopsis

Eustace Prudence McAllen is being blamed for the fires being set in his town. So he goes on a ride to find out what is starting the fires in Hell’s Kitchen….

Thoughts

I really liked the way that this story was told more in the traditional oral style. It was like a conversation with the narrator. Even including some not-so-veiled insults throughout for interrupting the flow of narration. It was really quite clever, and whilst not out and out hilarious, it was quite entertaining. And left me smiling throughout.

This story combines fires, the devil and cattle. Cattle rustling and cattle farming. It had all the elements of what I picture when I think Western… but included with that is also Lucifer and the problems that a conversation with The Devil come with. Actually, throughout this whole story, all I could think about was stories of deals at crossroads and the song The Devil Went Down to Georgia. There was just this great, hauntingly familiar feel to the story line. One that felt a little like coming home.

This wasn’t a hilarious short story. But it was an entertaining and slightly funny one. Mostly through the voice of the narrator – the narrator added an extra sense of flair and humour to the story line that I really wasn’t expecting. And honestly, I just really enjoyed this unique take on a Western story.

<- Westward WeirdThe Last Master of Aeronautical Winters ->

Image source: Amazon

Red Phoenix by Kylie Chan

Overview
Image result for book cover red phoenix

Title: Red Phoenix
Author: Kylie Chan
Series: Dark Heavens Trilogy #2, Dark Heavens #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Chinese mythology, Demons, Gods
Dates read: 3rd – 9th December 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Voyager
Year: 2007
5th sentence, 74th page: We moved the Wudang Academy from the Mountain to here in Hong Kong.

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Synopsis

IMMORTALS, MARTIAL ARTS, GODS AND DEMONS

The intrigue deepens as the demon threat closes around mortals and gods alike…

When Emma Donahoe took the position of nanny to John Chen’s daughter Simone, she never expected to be caring for the child of a Chinese god, and she didn’t expect that demons would want him dead. Nor has moving from nanny to partner in his heavenly realm made Emma’s life any easier.

Now a powerful race of demons has been created to hunt her and her family from Hong Kong to Europe. And she and Simone have become targets – pawns to be used in a deadly celestial power play.

Thoughts

It’s been a long time since I read this. And now I’m remembering why Dark Heavens is one of my all time favourite series. I think that come the new year (since my TBR starts again at the turn of the year) this will be the first series I sink my teeth into. There is just an amazing style, writing and storyline to this story. It is intense, fast-paced and filled with a great sense of humour. Which, since Chan is an Australian author, it’s the kind of humour that I love and recognise.

I picked this up in the week that I was not only feeling a little sad, but I was also feeling really, really sick. Normally I read a booka  day, plus get all of my work and housework sorted. Yet, I’ve barely been able to pick up a book. So sinking myself into the world of Emma, John, Simone and their incredibly off-centre family was the perfect anecdote for my horrible week. There’s nothing like a well-loved story to help pick you up.

I knew it from White Tiger, but Red Phoenix highlights how truly insane Emma is. I’m all for doing anything in the name of love… but what she does and gives up in the name of her love… I actually can’t fathom that. Which of course, makes this a brilliant book because it takes me to places that I would never willingly go myself (even though it’s actually not possible… but you get my drift). I also love that she is so loyal. Everything she does is in honour of the people she treasures. That part I can actually completely understand.

This is the book in which Michael first joins the family. He’s such a great addition to the storyline, and, if memory serves me (it’s been a long time since I’ve read the books), he becomes a really powerful character within the storyline. The web of family, relations and loyalties is getting more and more complex, and this is exactly why I love this series so much. The connections between the modern world and the mythical. And the relationships between father and son, father and daughter, so on and so forth.

 <- White Tiger ReviewBlue Dragon Review ->

Image source: HarperCollins Australia

Wick’s End by Joanna Parypinski

Overview
Image result for book cover haunted nights ellen datlow

Title: Wick’s End
Author: Joanna Parypinski
In: Haunted Nights (Lisa Morton & Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Demons, Horror, Tricksters
Dates read: 17th November 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Blumhouse
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: His soul was turned away from the light, and turned away, of course, from that seething pit of terror known as hell, as the devil kept his promise.

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Synopsis

A trade-off of horror stories late on All Hallows Eve. Each one scarier than the last. Each with their own, hidden message.

Thoughts

There is something that is just so… recognisable about telling ghost stories. It doesn’t matter what age or setting, telling tales that are sure to freak out your friends, peers and family is just… well, fun. Which of course meant that there had to be an exchange of ghost stories in a collection of Halloween tales. The fact that it’s an exchange of steadily creepier stories in a bar in the middle of nowhere… well, that had me grinning and clapping my hands like a little ninny.

This is a bit of a trickster tale. After all, the trickster is constantly outwitting and outmanoeuvring his enemies. And often times they are far more powerful than him. Which is what the man in this tale does… but with the devil. And yet, you know, since it’s the devil… that there will be some form of comeuppance at the end. The devil really doesn’t like to be bested, so he’s going to find a way to get his revenge… which creates an amazing cat and mouse story that I’m really disappointed ended so quickly. I mean, I would have loved to continue the cat and mouse game a little longer!

I’ve never understood what is so “cool” about Jack O’Lanterns. Or however you spell it… they’ve always seemed creepy. And I’ve watched rom coms which feature their carving as some romantic moment… ummmm. No thank you! This is a bit of a Jack O’Lantern origins story. One which far better suits my freaked out opinion on them than anything else I’ve read or seen in a long time… they are not cute and cuddly!

 <- A Small Taste of the Old Country ReviewThe Seventeen-Year Itch Review ->

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Once a Demon by Dina James

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of paranormal romance book cover

Title: Once a Demon
Author: Dina James
In: The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance (Trisha Telep)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Demons, Paranormal romance, Vampires
Dates read: 31st October 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: She made a wonderful effort to pronounce it, and asked if she could shorten it to simply ‘Kail’.

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Synopsis

Katrina has decided that Kyle needs a good friend. With the help of her husband, she lures this reclusive vampire into their home. But, when she finds out more about his past, she has to question everything that she’d believed to be true.

Thoughts

Unlike many of the short stories found in The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance, the two leads in this story aren’t the love interests. Actually, there’s no romance whatsoever between them with Katrina being a very, very happily married woman and her counterpart in this tale being a fairly notorious recluse. I liked the departure from the expected. It was nice to have two different people who had found their soul mates connecting on a more platonic level and finding common ground in their stories.

I absolutely adored Katrina in this story. She was so obviously in control of all of the men in her life and it was her very naïve sweetness that allowed her to do this. A bit of a reminder that we can conquer all with our femininity, as well as with a sword (but that would be other stories which feature a sword). Having the men wrapped around her finger helped to draw out the other characters and almost offer a sense of healing that was previously missing. Something that I think is so important, and completely beautiful.

Using a demon / vampire hybrid was totally unexpected. But very much welcomed. I’m actually quite disappointed that this is just a standalone short story. I would have loved to explore both the powers of Lucifer’s son and the politics behind his fall. Because, although the fall was beautifully described in this short story, I feel like there could be so much more going on behind the scenes… maybe I’ll just have to make it all up in my own mind’s eye.

 <- Grace of Small Magics ReviewNight Vision Review ->
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Eternity Embraced by Larissa Ione

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of vampire romance 2 book cover

Title: Eternity Embraced
Author: Larissa Ione
Series: Demonica #3.5
In: The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance 2 (Trisha Telep)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: DemonsParanormal romance, Vampires
Dates read: 27th October 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: Then we consider your idea about moving to New York.

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Synopsis

Desire…
Demon slayer Andrea Cole has always taken down the demons and vampires she hunts without mercy. But when a fellow slayer is captured and turned into a vampire by a sadistic monster, she must choose between loyalty to her family and the man she loves.

Versus Instinct…
Kaden Quinn has dedicated his life to slaying vampires, so when he is turned into one, his greatest nightmare comes to life. And when the woman he loves is thrown into a dungeon with him ― as food ― he must battle new instincts and old desires, and choose between his life, and hers.

Thoughts

This story is a bit of a cliffhanger, and as I was reading it, I was seriously hoping that it was part of a greater series. I was lucky, it is. Which makes me super happy, because this world building is brilliant. Although, I wanted more of a backstory… which I will get when I finally buy the novels!!!

This is so a true love conquers all kind of story… after all, it’s the thing which makes sure that Kaden doesn’t turn evil. Even when Andrea fully expects him to. This isn’t a ride off into the sunset, happily ever after story. It’s more of a there’s a chance for the future, but we’re not really sure what’s going to happen next kind of tale. And it’s the perfect hook to make you want to buy the rest of the series.

Eternity Embraced is an incredibly sweet, beautiful story. It’s an easy read, and one that sweeps you away for five, ten minutes. Just enough to sweep you off your feet and make you believe in true love again. Or at least, a love that give you an amazing future.

 <- Blood Gothic ReviewThe Ghost of Leadville Review ->
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Working for the Devil by Lilith Saintcrow

Overview
Image result for book cover working for the devil

Title: Working for the Devil
Author: Lilith Saintcrow
Series: Dante Valentine #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Demons, Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 14th – 20th October 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Orbit
Year: 2006
5th sentence, 74th page: The Hall had been hell – a true hell, a human hell, withou the excuse of demons to make it terrifying.

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Synopsis

Dante Valentine’s working relationship with the Devil wasn’t her choice – but you can’t turn down a contract with Lucifer and live. 88 Hired to kill fugitive Vardimal Santino, Dante can count as allies only a demon familiar she doesn’t trust and a small band of psychics. The thing is, Dante doesn’t need friends, she needs a miracle. Because the first time Dante Valentine met Santino, she almost died.

Thoughts

I’ve been meaning to get to the first Dante Valentine book for quite a while now… mostly because I’ve loved the short stories that I’ve read in this series and by Lilith Saintcrow in general. But it’s never seemed a good time to start a whole new series. But, I finally succumbed. And boy, am I glad that I did. Although now I have to wait until I have the money to buy the next books in the series… which is problematic because I want to know what happens next!!! The occurrences in this story are completely ground breaking, and normally happen about 3 books into an urban fantasy series like this… not at the very beginning!!!

Working for the Devil has kind of a tragic end. I’m hoping that things will turn out better in the next book. It was also nice to have a story that didn’t end with a happily ever after. For starters it makes me want to read the next book more than any other urban fantasy I’ve read recently. And it also is a reminder that life doesn’t exactly end up the way you want it too. I might get really mad if I find out that she’s pregnant in the next book though… that’s just not a good trope.

The amount of backstory and hints that Saintcrow manages to sneak into her storyline. She has a past lover, past injuries and a past enemy. All of which manage to jump out at her as she races to stop a demon at the bequest of the devil. It’s a pretty fast-paced storyline. Which is what I love – something that gets the heart racing, and makes it impossible to put down. I also loved that all of these past hurts aren’t fully described in the novel, but expanded on enough that you know parts of the story, and just want to know more. It also made one hell of a tough chick as the lead – someone who is totally damaged, and for me, incredibly easy to relate to.

Working for the Devil moves up my list for favourite urban fantasy stories. It has a kick arse chick with a penchant for death, a horrid history and a band of ragtag mates that are loyal to the core. Alright, it fits a lot of fairly typical themes and tropes for the books on my shelves, but there’s a reason why they fill my shelves. They’re fun, engaging and far more relatable than any of the male-driven storylines that also tend to sit on my shelves.

 <- Coming Home ReviewDead Man Rising Review ->

Image source: Fantastic Fiction