Tuesday, June 4, 2013

THE DEMON LOVER by Juliet Dark

I'm going to say up front this book isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea. It was definitely MY cup of tea, but I own up to the fact that I've always had a soft spot (or several) for the "bad boy"/irredeemable rogue, mind-altering sex, and the demon who gives it to her.

Yes, I've actually thought Incubi were actually rather sexy rather than, oh, demonic with a side of date rape. (I feel a need to clarify: I'm not so much for the rape as the "seduction" which is really ravishing one with pleasure whether she wants it or not--assuming the guy looks like Channing Tatum and she's secretly in love with him but doesn't want to admit it. Tomato, Tomah-toe. I know I need therapy--so does everyone who liked 50 Shades of Grey.)

Anyway to a stickler of romance, a specter who visits your dreams, ravishes you in the night, but doesn't really have a relationship with you in the light of day, probably won't constitute one's definition of a healthy relationship or one that would likely have any sort of Happily Ever After. Then again, this is very Beauty and the Beast in its structure, and everyone agrees that was a romance. And that dude had some severe anger problems.

So if you've stuck with me, you either have a faint appreciation for "seduction" Beauty and the Beast myths, or you're too curious for your own good and are hopeful I'll share something even more damning.

THE DEMON LOVER is the first in a trilogy by Juliet Dark. I discovered it when I found the second book in the series, read the first few pages, and decided, "You know, I think I like this" and ferreted out the other book so I could pathologically read them in order. Which was in my best interest because this is not a series you could just start wherever and hope to know what's going on.

You see, THE DEMON LOVER is more of a sci-fi/fantasy novel. World building. Nerdy facts. The little detail of things that sends me into giddy delight, much like the incubus. I want to visit Fairwick, and not just to meet the incubus.

Callie McFay is a professor at a small college called Fairwick, in the town of Fairwick, which has an interesting lifestyle of being the place where fairies, witches, and otherworldly creatures all live together in relative harmony. The door to Fairy is located there, but before Callie showed up, there hadn't been a doorkeeper for some time. Doorkeepers are uber-important, able to keep the baddies on their side of the line, able to help get those who need to cross back over the help they need to make it there. Unfortunately, Callie doesn't know she's a doorkeeper, or that she's half-witch, half-fairy, but it comes clear pretty quickly.

The world building feels true to the fairy tales and lore we grew up with; and the rituals she practices with the witches also feels true and honorable to the craft. I found her voice very readable; and I'm intrigued to know what will happen in the third book (I've already tore through the second book and also highly recommend). I really really hope Callie is able to somehow work it out with her "beast" without him killing her--after all, it's rather endearing to see what he does to try to win her love.

This series is shelved in the romance section--but I don't think it's the classic romance that will be embraced by the Hoards--you know that whole questionable seduction and demon thing, plus the romance part is still up in the air at the end of the first book...and likely the second. However, I don't see sci-fi/fantasy snatching it up because it has to do with incubi and fairy tales--and that's clearly romance. This is a genuine hybrid and will have a definite following, but I always wonder about books like this.

Do you have any books that you loved/liked that seemed to defy genre or labeling? Anyone else fans of fairy tale settings or fairy tale lore in their books?

19 comments:

Maureen said...

A bazillion! But one that I though defied genre was by Sharon Shin. Archangel. Until several books in, I thought it was fantasy. Then she turned it all on it's head and made it scifi. Interesting! And all along, it was a romance...all of them are.

But she was always shelved in scifi/fantasy. Back when romance on those shelves was considered verboten! Impressive!

Marnee Bailey said...

I like fairy tale settings but the fairy hero sometimes isn't alpha enough for me. This doesn't sound like it has that problem, though.

:)

I'll check these out. I haven't read any paranormal/SFF stuff lately. I'm due. :)

MsHellion said...

Mo, I do like archangel settings...I will have to look her up. Though I'm not sure about the sci-fi. Still, the second book suddenly turned a bit sci-fi and there were "angels" in that one...so weird.

BUT I loved the ending of the 2nd book--I cannot wait for the third. This is a really neat series.

MsHellion said...

Marn, no, it's definitely not a problem in this series. Paul--the ex-boyfriend of 6 years--is the non-alpha and he's all but non-existent.

But I can see what you mean. Fairy men are very metrosexual, looking all Legalos and combing their hair.

Terri Osburn said...

I don't read anything remotely resembling what you describe here. Simply not my thing. I do like fairy tales, but don't seek out that sort of setting in novels. These days, even if I wanted to branch out into something new, there's no time.

Sigh.

But I love that you sort of stumbled onto these and they're so unique. How did you find them?

MsHellion said...

Terri, understand. I'm not into settings of novels that deal with fairy land (a la Ireland) or really fairies, or even witches...BUT I was at the library and the cover looked interesting.

Yep, totally picked it up by the cover. And the title "The Water Witch" seemed interesting--flipped it over and realized the heroine has an incubus problem...and I read the first couple pages and was hooked.

I doubt I would have bought it by the cover at a bookstore--I'm willing to commit time on a new author, but not usually funding--unless what I read is so good that I think, "Yes, I would read this person from now on."

Terri Osburn said...

This is reminding me of a series of books I keep hearing about. It's by Kristen Callihan and it's the Darkest London series. They're historicals with dark magic and a beauty and the beast element. You might want to check these out. I actually want to read them eventually.

http://www.amazon.com/Firelight-Darkest-London-ebook/dp/B0052AI09Q/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1370355101&sr=1-5&keywords=kristen+callihan

MsHellion said...

TOTALLY PUTTING THAT ON HOLD! Awesome!

Terri Osburn said...

And it's a whole series so should keep you busy for a while. I want to hear what you think of them.

P. Kirby said...

The Demon Lover (hello, one of the most unoriginal titles, ever), has a fair amount of good reviews over at Goodreads. One reader referenced Pamela Dean's Tam Lin, which, uh, isn't a good thing, since I hated that book.

Oddly enough, it does sound intriguing. But, it's $11.99 on Kindle which is waaay too much for an ebook. Plus, I just dropped $7.99 on Ann Aguirre's Grimspace in a show of support in light of the sexist kurffufle with SFWA. Maybe if I stumble on it at the library.

Which the exception of Tam Lin, I usually like fairy tale-based novels, especially those in a contemporary setting. I'm thinking stuff by Charles De Lint and Holly Black's Tithe. Just read Alex Bledsoe's The Hum and Shiver which takes an interesting approach to fairies. And they aren't all that nice or metrosexual. Think, "redneck."

War of the Flowers by Tad Williams and War for the Oaks by Emma Bull are a couple of my favorite novels ever. The heroes/protagonists probably do have a metrosexual thing goin' on, but, I've got thing for fey men, anyway. But in general, the elves/fairies/fey in most of the books I've read are dangerous and unpredictable.

For fans of graphic novels, the Fables series - fairy tale creatures/characters living in exile in New York - is a big slice of awesome.

MsHellion said...

I admit I got these at the library--but the author does reference the story of Tam Lin (which was intriguing in the book. I have not read the Dean story to know if it differs, et al.)

I completely applaud the Aguirre decision. Not that I read a lot (read: much if any) of sci-fi, but after reading about the kerfuffle, I want to buy EVERY BOOK SHE'S PUT OUT. I'm not sure this would be considered a victory for anyone, since I'm the sort of dimwitted silly romantic female that the sci-fi boys were disparaging, but I think I would still feel good about the decision, like I was getting a jab back at that really bad date with the sci-fi snob.

Pat, I've read some YA novels...I can't recall the titles exactly, but they were good and there were fairies in them (again, another exception to the rule) and it was very much because the fairy seem to have no moral code that bugs the snot out of me. No honor really--they're immortal and have no use for it or something. I can't figure it out.

MsHellion said...

*googles Dean novel* Dude, I think this author must have LIKED Dean's novel...because it's kinda similar. In ways.

Also I was intrigued by the story of Tam Lin--and the holding onto him no matter what she may see and then he turns into burning coal--reminds me of the Dark-Hunters act, where you retrieve souls at the end...I wonder if Kenyon was inspired by that story as well. Or another version of it.

Maureen said...

Ah, I read Pamela Dean's Tam Lin and loved it... ;-)

I need to catch up on this kerfuffle stuff. I read some of it yesterday, and heard about a twitter war, but I'm not up on it.

Sharon Shinn slipped onto those shelves before the guys were getting all stupid... It's interesting! And the sciency stuff is subtle, Hels. You might really like this book!

MsHellion said...

Mo, every time they mention a sci-fi author who's a woman, whether her name is evident she is or not, they follow it with a (A woman) right behind her name, to further point out what an anomaly she is. And to warn you that because she's a woman, it most likely won't be as good as the 10 men listed before her, who write REAL sci-fi. That's the kerfuffle. That women can't write REAL sci-fi, because we're too distracted by boys and relationships.

Me, I appreciate that the "more subtle" science because my problem with traditional sci-fi, as well as the problematic stupid women roles they bother to throw in there for the male fantasy, is the pages and pages and pages of explanation of whatever science techy thing they've got going on. Bores me to death. (Same problem with LOTR books--I don't need to know that much detail about leaves...or to know EVERY song sang in that world.) And I honestly don't get men's fascination with knowing those details anymore than they understand my fascination with how someone LOOKED when he said something. "But he LOOK like he meant what he said? Or did he look torn?"

Maureen said...

Hee, hee... sorta like the whole car thing. "I saw a really nice car yesterday."
"What was it?"
"Blue."
"A sedan? A sports car? What year? What was the engine size? What year? ...."
"It was a peacock blue. I'm done."

Yeah, this is why a lot of early scifi women authors wrote with just initials...

Terri Osburn said...

As someone pointed out in comments in the Aguirre blog, Lucas didn't explain hardly any of the science behind elements of Star Wars.

But this is like men knowing all those sports statistics. We're weird for remembering our favorite passage from a book, but they're perfectly normal knowing the collective batting average of the 1972 Mets. Right.

P. Kirby said...

A big chunk of the kerfuffle was set off by recent issues of the SWFA Bulletin where a couple of asshats, Mike Resnick and some other idiot, whined, all butt-hurt, about being called on their misogyny. There was also another old fart, who, in an editorial said that women should comport themselves with "the quiet dignity of Barbie." Oy. Basically, as a couple of writers phrased it, "Old men yelling at clouds"

Outside of that controversy, Aquirre has been the recipient of loads of sexism at cons and elsewhere from male writers. Grimspace (which apparently has a minor romantic subplot), passed my first page test, so I did the download thing.

Re: Dean's Tam Lin. Like my fave, War for the Oaks, it has a healthy and loyal cult following. But I found it pretentious, boring, unromantic and utterly devoid of plot until the last few pages. Blah-blah-blah, literary references, blah-blah-blah, the protagonist thinks she's so fucking smart. One of my top three hated books.

P. Kirby said...

"As someone pointed out in comments in the Aguirre blog, Lucas didn't explain hardly any of the science behind elements of Star Wars."

In general, all popular SF series, including Star Trek, Star Wars, etc., are as vacuous as deep space when it comes to science. In general, the easy of travel from point to point, violates all manner of time-space, quantum physics stuff.

And yes, I'm a science geek who like details including engine size, and how stuff works. But I also recognize the need to suspend some of that stuff to tell a good yarn.

Most of the asshats whining about "science" are old-guard SF writers who hold a particular disdain for anything that has characterization, coherent plot, etc. Basically, if it isn't a substitute for a case of Ambian, it's not "real" SF. In general, their stuff doesn't sell that well and they are feeling threatened.

Maureen said...

I can see your points about Tam Lin. It was a big book! I think I was in the mood when I read it for all those details...but I can see how it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. It was a very long book considering what it was based on...

Thanks for the clarification...idiots!