Berkley Sensation, $14.00, ISBN 978-0-425-22054-2
Fantasy Erotica, 2008
Having had a good time with Fairyville, I only hesitated a little before shelling out $14.00 for Emma Holly’s Demon’s Fire. Oh boy, talk about a mistake. You should be familiar with the author’s previous Tale of the Demon World books before you tackle this one. If not, you could very well end up like me – totally lost throughout the entire book. You can argue that I should take the trouble to hunt down those previous books and read them when I realize that this book doesn’t stand alone, but hey, I’m not obliged to be that fair and noble. Not with my $14.00 on the line, buster.
The problem here is that the main characters in this book have showed up in previous books. The author takes for granted that I have read those books. As a result, key events that are important to help me understand these characters are merely inferred to. For example, Prince Pahndir in this story has been entangled in some convoluted politics involving someone named Buttercup and he has been… an ex-royalty sold to prostitution? Or something. When I can’t even get a good idea of who and what one of the key main characters is, that is when I know I’m going to have problems with this story.
Anyway, this story is set in Bhamjran, a country modeled after colonial India, where there are demons called Yama living alongside the locals. The Yama demons are all hot and sexy, naturally, and they can do it all night long. Some of them even work as prostitutes and, in Pahndir’s case, open a hot brothel. It amuses me how there is little outcry over the hero opening a brothel when you know a heroine doing a similar job would be ripped to shreds by outraged readers for being an immoral whore. Maybe Emma Holly’s readers are made of sterner stuff, heh.
And then there are Beth and Charles. Again, these are characters from previous books and any life-changing events that they went through in those books are merely inferred to. Charles is… er, an ex-prostitute, I’m pretty sure. He is also attracted to the idea of having a demon get kinky with him, which he feels is a taboo, which of course makes the idea ten times more attractive. Beth is in love with Charles. Charles loves her back, although his issues prevent him for expressing himself. I don’t know why he loves Beth, really, since she is a useless creature. She is barely employable, as evidenced by her getting what is pretty much a pity job from her boss who knows that she merely wants to get close to Charles. When on the job, she is either daydreaming, falling asleep on the job, or oversleeping and coming in to work late. It takes a literal possession to make her even a little interesting – that’s how wretched Beth is in this story.
I honestly have no idea what or who these characters are. There is a ménage à trois between the three principal characters, but I do not feel any emotional connection to these characters because of how little I know about what makes them tick. The author makes references about how Charles and Pahndir have been and still are hurting, but if you ask me to explain specifically what kind of baggage they are carrying with them, I’d suggest that you read the previous books yourself to find out. For example, Pahndir is unable to ejaculate until the right conditions are met, although I can only guess that this is a condition related to his Yama nature. He was exiled from his people for apparently not exhibiting appropriate leadership qualities, but please don’t quote me on that because I form this opinion while attempting to piece together the various vague details provided in this book and I am pretty sure I am wrong.
The erotic aspects are quite hollow, I find. There are also some skanky sex scenes involving Pahndir being sexually assaulted by everyone’s favorite plot device, Evil Women from Skankyville, which I find more tasteless than erotic.
This book does not stand alone and I don’t find it erotic. If you want to read this book, please, do yourself a big favor and read the previous books in the series if you haven’t already. As for me, I think the author has written better books than this one, and therefore, readers can do better than settling for this one as well.