Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Written by Michael Laimo
Published by Leisure Books
Ah, the devil. He sure is a popular figure with horror writers, being the embodiment of evil and all that, but how often have you heard of him used as a weapon in a battle against evil? I would venture to guess you never have, and that’s what makes The Demonologist such an interesting idea, even if the execution is a bit questionable.
The story centers on newly crowned rock star Bev Mathers. During the last show of his 9-month tour, he begins to feel disconnected from the music around him, as if something is scratching the inside of his brain, trying to get through. The feeling goes away quickly, but when he gets home and starts to unwind after his long tour, that feeling keeps coming back stronger and stronger, with added unpleasantness of voices in his head an a mysterious stranger who seems to be following him everywhere.
During a party at his manager’s house he falls into a conversation with a local priest, who tells of how his church was the site of a demonic ritual the previous night, learning that the priest is a bit of an expert on the subject of demons and Satan. As Bev learns more about what is going on with him he begins to think this priest knows more than he’s letting on. Slowly things begin to fall into place, truths are revealed about his long dead wife and the only other girl in his life he cares about, his daughter, until eventually he learns the horrible truth; that he’s part of a ritual that is, pure and simple, evil.
You see, there is a story in the bible about a man possessed by 13 demons who, when Jesus confronts him, calls himself Legion “for there are many of us”. The story goes that Jesus cast the demons out into 13 pigs, which were then buried in the desert. However, because of the unholy parasites inside them, the pigs did not die, and now there is one man who has spent his entire life preparing to bring all 13 demons into himself, to become greater than the devil himself. Bev Mathers is now host to the final demon, the one that is needed to make the creature known as Legion immortally evil; Satan.
It would be almost criminal to write a book filled with sacrifice and demonic ritual and not balance it out with copious amounts of gore and vivid descriptions of the vile nastiness of all sorts, and I’m happy to say Laimo is completely innocent there. Barely a dozen pages pass without something disgusting and potentially life-ending being described and/or dreamed about, which makes for a damn fun read. His grasp on his characters isn’t as strong as I would’ve liked, but it’s really made up for in the sheer amount of physical violence done to them. For those of you familiar with the writings of Ed Lee, namely the Infernal books, that’s pretty much the level of description Laimo’s at when it comes to his demonic landscape.
So what of the actual story? Well, I found it a bit hokey at times, to be honest. Something about dealing with Satan on a steady basis, with characters talking about him constantly and describing more than they have any real way of knowing about the Price of Darkness somehow lessens the effect of his evil influence. The antagonist, named Allieb (an anagram of the demon Belial) comes across as much, much worse, stopping at nothing and sparing no one in his pursuit to, essentially, dethrone Satan and take his place as the ultimate in evil, except in a physical manifestation.
My only real complaint, aside from characters I had a very hard time caring too much about, was that it was about 65 pages too long. There’s a scene in a motel after the finale that attempts to tie up some loose ends, but the book is left wide open for a follow-up. It seemed to it would’ve made more sense to save some of those explanations for the next book, if indeed there is one, rather than create a situation where the principal characters sit around and go “okay, here’s what really happened” to one another. That, added with preceding final scene in Allieb’s mansion, served to slow the book down just a bit too much for my tastes.
The Demonologist is still a fun book, full of graphic imagery and some cool concepts that deal with evil but thankfully manage to stay away from the preachy “good will always triumph” theme that seems to creep up when authors write about Satan and Hell. Laimo’s definitely got some skills on him, I just hope that next time he’s able to breath a little more life into his characters.
3 out of 5
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