“If I had an ordinary illness, I'm sure they could fix me. But I've seen demons rip my world to pieces. Nobody believes that, so nobody knows what I'm going through. I'm alone. I always will be. That's my life now. That's just the way it is.”
I loved Darren Shan's Cirque Du Freak series (I mean, seriously, almost literally drooled over waiting for each edition of those books...) so set myself the goal of reading his other series as well. This sounded the more interesting, so this is the one I've started with.
Definitely dark, definitely morbid, it's a young adult for older teens, despite how it's marketed. Just as enjoyable for adults, at least this one. The main character encounters a tragic, violent loss as he finds his family destroyed and faces the villains who did it (brutal stuff). When he mentally heals enough to cope, he finds himself sheltered by his long-lost uncle, a man who knows more than he's telling, but who is willing to tell it as soon as Grubbs wants to listen.
I can tell there are complicated intricacies waiting in further sequels. This one kept it a little simple for effect and establishing structure. There were twists and surprises as they are slowly unveiled, but nothing too stunning. I finally figured out where the chess came into play - interesting stuff. I dug the idea of the family curse, the magic use, and the ties with the demon master Lord Loss.
Grubbs is a worthy main young adult protagonist. He's not obnoxious, he's realistic, and I especially thought Shan wrote his madness well. Almost a poetic bend to tell that part of the story. The uncle is easy to fall in love with and I hope he sticks around. The new best friend, Bill-E, is adorably likeable. As far as villains go, Lord Loss is evil through and through, creepy, and even I wanted him to leave.
There's violence and gore - from someone dead being used as a finger puppet, to beheadings, and even a bizarre story about the original owner of the house getting rid of a baby he didn't want by feeding it to his pet piranhas. It's not continuous, but it's brutal in the scenes which are meant to be horrifying. Of course these scenes hold up strong in their tensions. You never know what the author will pull out of his hat, after all.
I rated three rather than five as the story didn't addict or fully captivate me yet. It has the potential to and I'll definitely keep reading.
The ending is kind of a calm before the storm - a relieved sigh that things are surprisingly okay. This never stays, as I've found - especially considering there are at least ten more of these books to go.
“But you're like me,” he says. “An outsider. Different. A freak. We're both weird, which is why we get along.”
From author's website: A demon by Any Other Name!....