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Demonic

The impossible-to-put-down “Demonic” is wickedly good fun with great characters and plenty of bloody violence for horror lovers.

Demonic

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A genuinely absurd windstorm recently blew its way into Southern Pennsylvania. We’re not talking about some cute little summer breeze making me feel fine; we’re talking about “not in Kansas anymore” gusts. Gusts so strong they knocked a big fucking branch off of the tree outside of my house. 9 o’clock at night, and behold, a huge honking tree branch has shaken loose its earthly coil and is now pressed tenderly against a power line.

And I am anxious.

After a few failed attempts of sawing through the beast with a serrated kitchen knife-type thing, I gave up and realized I would simply have to live with the anxiety for the night. I decided to take refuge in an old friend: horror novels.

And that, girls and ghouls, is how I came to consume the entirety of Demonic by Jeff Strand over the course of six hours.

I did not, necessarily, set out to read the whole damn book, but I couldn’t stop. I’m not entirely sure what I expected, but the sharp, funny, engaging prose was more than I could have hoped for. I would have blazed through those 240 pages on the charm of Strand’s voice alone. Fortunately, the story it bolstered was a hell of a lot of fun as well.

The story begins with a deceptively simple premise.

Demonic

30-something Corey doesn’t have a hugely successful romantic history, and he’s fine with that until a paradigm-shifting holiday party with co-worker Quinn. Corey develops what the children refer to as “the feels” for Quinn, and she eventually reveals to him that her shitty, abusive husband is also a serial killer who has made her complicit in his crimes as a way of keeping her under his thumb.

Corey decides to white knight it and free Quinn of her uniquely awful marriage via the time-honored method of good ol’ fashioned murder.

Unfortunately, Vic-Quinn’s stone-cold trash can of a husband doesn’t take kindly to being killed. He refuses to be murdered and calls in some equally terrifying friends, forcing Corey and Quinn to run and fight for their lives.

Demonic was sitting on my Amazon wishlist for quite a while. I started reading the sample, prepared to jump ship at the first sign of lagging interest, but lo, it never came. Strand paces his book gorgeously; yes, it is all absolutely over-the-top, fantastic, and violent, but it doesn’t linger in any one place long enough for you to focus on the absolute impossibility of the plot.

Readers looking for a grounded, believable story should certainly skip this one; however, anyone hoping for an engrossing and incredibly fun horror yarn with gobs of blood and violence is in for a treat.

The horror aspects are reminiscent of Evil Dead 2 — propulsively paced, a little slapstick, and very engaging.

Corey’s immediately someone you want to hang out with; he makes terrible choices! Consistently! His intentions are good, but damn, his decisions are poor. Honestly, 240 pages with him is not even close enough.

Quinn defies the expectations of a damsel in distress. She is caustic, smart, and capable. And pretty comprehensively annoyed by Corey’s road to hell paving good intentions.

Demonic’s mileage as a scare delivery vehicle will vary.

Author Jeff Strand

Horror is, by its nature, incredibly subjective.

I personally don’t tend to find stories about demons and monsters scary. However, I’m certain some do. That said, I don’t necessarily think the book’s primary intention is to frighten, just to entertain.

It’s fantastically violent, a truly astonishing blood-bath, but even the remarkable carnage is handled with a light hand.

Strand has an undeniable voice, and I look forward to diving into his full bibliography. 

Demonic achieved the absolutely impossible last week; when I — a creature of stress, anxiety, and near-constant panic — needed a distraction from a situation I could do nothing about, it actually fucking provided it. And that, friends, is not nothing.

The biggest criticism I could possibly lob at it is simply that it’s impossible to stop reading.

Not a bad way to pass 6 hours.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 5

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