Book Review: The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper (Kindle Edition)

Posted: July 20, 2013 in Books

the Demonologist

David Ullman is a professor of literature who specializes in the epic poem, Paradise Lost.  One day, he gets an unexpected invitation from a woman he calls The Thin Woman to go to Venice.  At first David declines, he’s an atheist, the interest in Paradise Lost is purely academic.  He doesn’t believe in demons or God for that matter, and that’s the way he wants to keep it.  But then David thinks about his life, he is in the middle of a messy divorce and his wife is cheating on him with another professor, in other words he needs to get away.  David decides to go to Venice with his twelve year old daughter Tess.

David is soon reminded why he was brought to Venice, he is given a video camera and sent through the narrow streets of Venice when he comes to a small dark room, and witnesses what can only be called a demonic possession. The victim of the possession is a professor, Italian, but someone David knows.  He videos the possession and feeling a sense of danger, abruptly leaves.  No sooner does he get back to the hotel when he realizes that Tess is not in the hotel, David finds her on the roof of the hotel and goes out to save her.  He notices Tess is not herself, she has a distant, vacant stare on her face, and then suddenly, she slips, or jumps to her death.  The police label Tess death a suicide, but soon after her death David begins to get clues that Tess is not dead, and that she is being held in a netherworld against her will, and immediately David starts to follow these clues.  Is Tess indeed alive?  Is she being held by a demon?  Or is this a hallucination brought on by the stress and grief?  David goes on a cross country trek of the US to find out, soon David’s platonic gal-pal Elaine O’Brien joins him in his quest find his daughter. What do they find?

Take equal parts Dan Brown, Stephen King, Dante Alighieri, and Milton of course, and you get the Demonologist.   I even read Paradise Lost in the original verse to prepare for the Demonologist, no such preparation is needed, the references to Milton’s epic poem are scant, and well explained, even if you have never read Milton.  This is an easy summer read, despite what sounds like a weighty topic, and that light treatment both works for and against the book, the humor is funny, and adds to the enjoyment, but then Pyper changes tone and it’s dark and grim again.  He gives his characters a lot of baggage to boot, is all of that necessary? The consistency of tone is an issue here, is it an adventure novel, is it supposed to be irreverent, or is it about a spiritual journey?  The author never really decides what he wants the book to be, and that makes the ending all the more disappointing, because Pyper just lets the ending peter out, and tries to say something profound, and fails in my opinion.  With all that said, it’s a quick read, fun, somewhat derivative, but still worth a read.

The Demonologist:  The devil’s in the details.

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