Lulu, $13.06, ISBN 978-0-557-06875-3
I have some serious doubts about the cover art of Along Came a Demon. That greasy Eurotrash bloke look doesn’t work anymore… does it?
Tiffany “Tiff” Banks can see and speak to ghosts of people – murder victims, usually. She lives with her personal ghosts (victims of the former tenant, a serial killer, as Tiff learned once she knew her unexpected housemates better), in fact, and she works often with the police department of Clarion, Utah as their personal consultant in murder cases. When the story opens, the ghost of a recently murdered woman, Linda Marchant, who lived just behind Tiff’s house shows up at her front lawn. She tells Tiff that she is worried about her boy, Lawrence, but when Tiff checks with the police, she learns that nobody seems to know about this boy’s existence.
Tiff has already found many things odd about Linda’s appearance in her garden – let’s just say that there are many things about Linda’s appearance that are unusual compared to the cases that Tiff had handled in the past – and this apparently missing kid is just the tip of the iceberg where the mystery of poor Linda is concerned. Tiff finds herself working with cop Royal Mortenson along the way. With a name like that, he’s clearly not human, and indeed, he isn’t. He’s a demon. Well, what do you expect? Tiff needs a love interest, and you don’t seriously expect her to be attracted to a puny human male, do you?
Along Came a Demon is an urban fantasy story which is more mystery than romance or erotica. Here, humans co-exist uneasily with the “Otherworldly”, which encompasses demons, pixies, and anything not of this world. Only a few humans, like Tiff and her psychic friend, are aware of the existence of the Otherworldly. There is nothing particularly outstanding about the world building – it’s not something you haven’t come across before if you have read enough urban fantasy type of stories.
What is rather refreshing here is how refreshingly angst-free Tiff is for a heroine in an urban fantasy story. Sure, she has what seems like the obligatory unhappy childhood, but she is actually not that self-absorbed. She actually has a pretty decent social life for a heroine in this kind of story and she is also capable of doing things without trying so hard to sound sassy or cynical. Unfortunately, Tiff loses some brainpower when she meets Royal later in the story. I know love and lust can make fools of people, but I cringe when Tiff starts screaming at Royal about her dog and such. Tiff’s behavior seems so abrupt and even out of character when she’s with Royal.
This story is also pretty well crafted. The pacing is fine, the characters’ conversations flow pretty smoothly without sounding forced or contrived, and the narrative is actually quite engaging. There are plenty of distracting punctuation errors though in the version I am reading. Missing commas, inverted commas – that kind of thing. If the author ever gets around revising her book, a clean up of these mistakes is in order. I can overlook a few of such mistakes, but there are enough of them here to be very distracting.
Still, all in all, this is a most unexpectedly enjoyable read. It may not be as action-packed, erotic, or angst-ridden as most of the urban fantasy stories in the market at the moment, but the author tries to present a different kind of urban fantasy here, a little bit more mystery. Despite the occasional very rough edges here and there, it’s a pretty nice change from the usual urban fantasy fare that I find myself reading these days.