by Ciar Cullen, paranormal (2009)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-667-9
Ciar Cullen's The Egyptian Demon's Keeper is a sly subversion of quite a number of paranormal tropes. Instead of the woman being the one destined to carry the Brat of Destiny - you know, the baby destined to save the world and all that - we have the Seed of Destruction. If an evil demon has her way, the hero will sire a child on her, and that child will destroy the world as we know it. Alas, the answer isn't as simple as a vasectomy - the hero is Kasdeya, the "fifth Satan", and therefore the simplest answer is never the correct one with these spooks.
Our heroine Eliza Schneider was in a dig site in Egypt, hoping to leave her mark in the field of Egyptology, when she discovered a golden box while digging. Opening the box summoned a fellow who could easily be passed for a genie (a hot one, of course). He didn't exactly enamor himself to her when he started calling her his servant and giving her this marvelous speech:
"By now we should be in the throes of grand passion, coupling in the ecstasy I've yearned for these many decades. Suckling on your wonderful nipples, clawing at one another as I pound my seed to your womb... and so forth and so on."
I don't blame Eliza for thinking that she had to be hallucinating. Even the worst of Christine Feehan's heroes is never this corny... right? Imagine her shock a few weeks later when, after telling herself that she has imagined the whole thing in Egypt, he shows up again in New York. Kasdeya babbles about how she and he are meant to be together, but more significantly, even if they do want to be together, the demon Deumos is not going to leave them be. After all, she wants Kasey, as our hero calls himself in the modern age, and their kid is supposed to be the new postmodern Antichrist or something.
This story is pretty entertaining because of how the author cheerfully subverts typical tropes in the paranormal genre. The hero thinks that he's the alpha male of the year, but the heroine calls most of the shots here with or without him realizing it, heh. Poor Kasey, he's the one for once with the spotlight shining on his reproductive abilities. The story also contains many other playful jabs at conventions and even clichés associated with paranormal romances.
The Egyptian Demon's Keeper isn't just a playful take on conventions. It's actually a "real" story, imagine that. There is actually a pretty coherent story line here, the setting is pretty well drawn, and the characters are adorable. While this may be a short story, therefore, it is a very entertaining one that tries to be and succeeds very well in being different and fun at the same time.
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