Monday, September 13, 2010
Reading Challenge Review: Here Be Demons
So, it turns out that if you are a demon, the ultimate punishment is to be banished from Hell. That's just what's happened to arch-demon Atamar and his band of sexy succubi and creepy incubuses. (See cover art for detail.) For the past few centuries Atamar and his crew of underlings have been banished to the barren desert of Africa for being the Detroit Lions when it comes to the business of corrupting souls. In order to return to Hell, they must find some unlucky souls to corrupt and buy their way back in. Too bad the desert isn't exactly teeming with life. Atamar and the gang have already screwed up a couple of previous chances to harvest some soulage, so when a band of American archeology students arrive for a summer dig, the Hellspawn decide to dust off their A-games and crank up the sinning!
The group of students turn out to be more, or in some cases, less than what the demons bargained for. Thinking this might be their last chance for redemption, the demons create, with demon magic, an archeological miracle which ratchets up the drama, tension and emotions, and hopefully also their target's susceptibility to sinning. However, tensions are running high amongst the demons as well, and the underlings are losing faith in their leader. How far will the demons go (moral dilemma!) to make it back to hell?
Here Be Demons wasn't such a great book. Mind you, it wasn't terrible, but it sure wasn't great. The first thing I struggled with was the flatness of the characters. Friesner actually did an okay job of character building, but the characters themselves were pretty lame. The demons didn't seem the least bit demonic, they were pretty much just cheesy, and boring. The American students reminded me way too much of the typical "B" movie characters you might find in a flick called "Spring Break Fest" or "Surfin' Summer". They were just stereotypical and flat. Dweeby Professor? Check. Strapping Young Lad? Check. Sex-Kitten Virgin? Check. Nerdy-yet-Sexy Girl? Check. Loser who turns out to be a good guy? Check. I wasn't as disappointed about the students as I was about the demons. I think Friesner really missed a chance to do something cool with those characters and make them unique and interesting...but she didn't.
Friesner's writing also left a bit to be desired. I think, in fact I'm pretty sure, this was meant to be a "humorous" book. Yeah, but it really wasn't. There was a chuckle here or there, but I definitely wouldn't call this book funny. To further muddy the waters, Friesner's prose was like a road plagued by a pot-hole or two. There were certainly times when I thought she cranked out some finely written passages, but that wasn't always the case. Things often felt out of sync as I read. Paragraphs often felt jumbled and the pacing was pretty damn haphazard.
Unfortunately, nothing all that interesting happened in this book. The ending, despite a well written demon-fight was pretty ho-hum, probably because I wasn't attached in the least bit to any of the characters to care about what happened to them. So, I am somewhat sad to say, though not really all that surprised, that this is a Reading Challenge fail. I can't give Here Be Demons my recommendation. I think I expected more from the concept.