Author: Juliet Dark (author website)
Release Date: December 27th 2011 by Random House
Age Group: Adult
The Demon Lover is so not the book I thought it was going to be. Let's face it: the name? The cover? It even has the word 'virile' in the cover copy, for pete's sake! We all know what type of book it's going to be. Except, well, it's not. At first I felt kind of cheated... but I really enjoyed this book.
Since accepting a teaching position at remote Fairwick College in upstate New York, Callie McFay has experienced the same disturbingly erotic dream every night: A mist enters her bedroom, then takes the shape of a virile, seductive stranger who proceeds to ravish her in the most toe-curling, wholly satisfying ways possible. Perhaps these dreams are the result of writing her bestselling book, The Sex Lives of Demon Lovers. After all, Callie’s lifelong passion is the intersection of lurid fairy tales and Gothic literature—which is why she finds herself at Fairwick’s renowned folklore department, living in a once-stately Victorian house that, at first sight, seemed to call her name.
But Callie soon realizes that her dreams are alarmingly real. She has a demon lover—an incubus—and he will seduce her, pleasure her, and eventually suck the very life from her. Then Callie makes another startling discovery: He’s not the only mythical creature in Fairwick. As the tenured witches of the college and the resident fairies in the surrounding woods prepare to cast out the incubus, Callie must accomplish something infinitely more difficult—banishing this demon lover from her heart.
The Demon Lover is an odd creature. From 'Juliet Dark', the pseudonym Carol Goodman, it starts off a lush, gothic mystery/horror, with an almost meta-fiction feel to it, which I both loved and loathed. Filled with literary references from Sookie Stackhouse to Jane Eyre, it's at turns funny and witty, and at others painfully self-aware. The Demon Lover knows what kind of book it sounds and looks like, and at times revels in it, and others seems to almost distance itself from it... Like, 'yes, I'm totally your grandma's trashy romance novel... But I'm cool! I swear!' It's almost like a kid trying to fit in at a party by making fun of himself. I really struggle to explain how I feel about it... I'm conflicted, but the more I think about it, the more I feel this slightly conflicted, dualistic start is completely the point: Callie's made a living of the study of gothic literature and paranormal romance. It stands to reason that, finding herself in a gothic romance, she's going to be super self-aware and question what's going on, or write it off as an over-read, overactive imagination.
The thing is, this 'start' to the novel? It goes in for ONE HUNDRED PAGES. That's one hundred out of three hundred and seventy. And it's sloooooow. Very slow. I struggled through, and had basically made up my mind that I didn't like this book. Then it got GOOD.
The Demon Lover comes into its own when Callie discovers that, well, she's not nuts. There really IS something rather supernatural going on in Fairwick. In fact, the whole town has been founded around the existence of the supernatural. Welcome to the Hellmouth, baby. From this point, the book takes on a rather delicious Sookie Stackhouse feel, and only gets better. Demon Lover is like a mash-up of Sookie Stackhouse, the Caster Chronicles, and a delicious touch if its own brand of quirky.
Cailleach (That's Kay-lex, or 'Callie' to you):Callie is an interesting heroine. Intelligent and independent, she can be really fun to read... at others a tiny bit stupid, careless, and that's not to mention a total snob... not even snobby in a deliciously-fun-to-read way. Nevertheless, past page 100, I liked her, and immensely enjoyed her journey of self discovery (golly that sounds hackneyed), because that's what this is: Callie coming to terms with a very, very strange new world.
I also LOVED her love interest, but let me tell you guys: this really isn't a romance. Romance readers will be disappointed by the open-ended close to the book. The romance aspect, though? It has me clamouring for more. I really want to see how Juliet Dark resolves this, or at least where she takes it in Water Witch, slated for a 2012 release (there's a bit of info on Juliet Dark's Facebook page--there's no website or blog).
The Verdict?What surprised me most about Demon Lover is just how much I enjoyed it. After a very slow--and slightly awkward--start, it turns into something witty, sexy, magic, sad and compelling. Sookie fans, rejoice: if you can get past the first half of this book, you're in for a real treat. What Dark has done brilliantly in The Demon Lover is set up a tantalizing start to a VERY promising series, and now that set up is done? Oh boy is this going good places.
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The Demon Lover was kindly provided by Random House via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Thanks you guys!