Berkley Sensation, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-23468-6
The Demon in Me is the first book in a new series called Living in Eden. The series is a genuine series – same characters showing up throughout the books in the series, that kind of thing – so this is a book to pick up only if you have the time and inclination to invest in another urban fantasy series. The tone of this series, if I am to judge by this book, is pretty similar to Ms Rowen’s Immortality Bites series. This is a light-hearted romp that has stronger paranormal elements while the romance remains tepid at best.
Eden Riley is a little bit psychic. Her psychic abilities come and go without any control. When her unreliable psychic abilities earn her a place in Toronto’s finest as the resident psychic consultant, she finds herself possessed by a demon, Darrak, while being courted by a handsome detective, Ben Hanson. In the meantime, Darrak is actually living inside her head and even slowly gaining the ability to solidify outside her body and even take control of her body now and then. He can only be rid of when Eden dies or she finds the witch who cursed Darrak to live in such a parasitic manner. If that is not enough, Eden soon finds herself a freak magnet of sorts, as woo-woo people of all kinds start showing up at her doorstep, bringing their problems with them for her to deal with.
Eden is that urban fantasy heroine. She’s a PI or psychic consultant depending on the phase of the moon or something, she claims to be broke although you wouldn’t know it judging from how she behaves in this story, and she has more sass and sarcasm than common sense. Darrak is that urban fantasy hero – mysterious in a contrived manner and displaying a sense of self-entitlement when it comes to the heroine having the hots for her. He is also a typical hero from this author in that he whines, mopes, and complains like a little brat. Darrak basically has two forms of expression in this story. When he is randy, he is leering at Eden in that “you know I’m so hot!” manner. When he’s not in the mood, he’s trying to sabotage Eden’s dates with Ben and generally behaving like Justin Bieber turned down by a hot older woman.
The two lead characters are pretty much bland clichés walking but still, the story is well put together. There are plenty of laughs to be had. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the secondary characters such as Ben and the exorcist Malcolm are far more interesting than the lead characters. This book also closes with some developments that have me, for a while, intrigued enough to want to seek out the next book in the series.
For a while, that is. My biggest problem with this story is that it is very hard to take the story seriously because the whole thing feels… well, artificial. For example, Eden knows that Darrak’s last host is a serial killer – one who tried to kill her at the start of this story. The same demon is now inside her. And yet, what does Eden do? She goes within the blink of an eye from wanting Darrak out to, after seeing how hot he is, wanting to protect him from Malcolm. She doesn’t show anything more than mild annoyance when Darrak starts showing signs that he can actually control her body. Does she remember that Darrak last possessed a man who turned out to be a serial killer? Eden doesn’t seem to care at all.
As a reader who is looking in from the outside, I get this impression that Darrak could very well be manipulating Eden, breaking down her defenses and even planting thoughts in her mind to make her more agreeable to his presence in her head. He’s a demon, after all – who knows what he could actually do, since Darrak’s powers are a deus ex machina kind that show up when it’s convenient or timely for the plot to do so. Ms Rowen may think that Darrak is such a cute and hot hero, but from my point of view, I could very well be reading about a demon manipulating a gullible heroine. There is a feeling of disconnect between what the author is telling me and what I am reading on the pages.
The Demon in Me is ultimately, in my opinion, a light and frothy read with plenty of charming moments, but I can’t help feeling that it is not as well executed as it could have been. The emphasis on comedy often causes Eden’s reactions to her various predicaments to be on the implausible side. Because this is not an outrageous story that defiantly throws logic out the window by accentuating the absurd, such implausibilities become a major distraction to my enjoyment of this story.
Will I follow the series? Right now I’m not sure. Maybe if I come across the next book in the bookstore, I may just pick it up. As it is, for now I’d rather wait for the author’s next new series – I know; I’ve lost track of the number of series being put out by the author myself – which promises to be a darker one.