Tour’s Books Blog

August 28, 2009

Book Review: The Demon King and I by Candice Havens

  • Title: The Demon King and I
  • Author: Candice Havens
  • Type: Paranormal Chick-Lit
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Multiple Worlds
  • Sub-genre: Kick-ass Heroine and Enemy Hero
  • My Grade: C+ (3.4*)
  • Rating: PG – 17
  • Where Available: Everywhere books are sold

The Demon King and I is told in the first person by Gillian Caruthers, one of four Caruthers sister who are the Guardians to the portals between Earth and other worlds where the stuff of myth and nightmares live.  The split personality of Gillian’s life makes it hard to buy the basic premise, a famous, much photographed, rich girl as a sword wielding, demon butt kicking heroine.  In addition, Gillian comes across as a terminally shallow heroine with superhuman strength and world class fighting skills.  The plot itself is somewhat standard – evil magic, end-of-the-world, complete with traitors and kidnapped family member, etc.  If you need a primer on high end designer clothing and shoes, this is your book.  Designer names are dropped faster than red herrings in a mystery.  For some reason Gillian is really obsessed with appearances – to the point where her most burning question of the demon king when he shows up unexpectedly in her office to tell of a serious dark magic infecting the portals, is to ask where he got his suit!  ARGH!!!!!!!!!

The story opens when Gillian returns to her condo in Sao Paolo, Brazil unexpectedly early from a trip to the family compound in Houston to find her artist boyfriend having sex with her gallery manager.  The emotional wound has all the depth of a paper cut, but she follows up by firing the woman and replacing her at the gallery opening that night is a scene worth of a high school cheerleader prom queen in a snit.  Then she uses her gift to teleport home to Houston and ends up getting called to do some work as a Guardian and the goes to the Demon homeworld to meet yet another new king – something that happens often there.  Arath is not the usual demon king, he’s a genuine hottie.  He’s also a mage of some power and a healer, a startling combination for a demon.  Gillian is very surprised to find that in addition to perfect English and very human good looks, Arath also wants the portals between their worlds closed, something Gillian favors.  The reason shocks her – his mother was human and her own father barred her from returning to be with her 2 sons and she died of a broken heart on Earth while her sons and their father suffered her loss.  Gillian knows something he doesn’t; his mother Juilet is really very much alive and believes both her sons dead.  She’s Gillian’s aunt.

The closing of the portal doesn’t work though and a dear friend of Gillian’s is killed, the Vatican Treasury is robbed by demons and Gillian is nearly poisoned.  It’s the healing ability of the demon king that saves her and he’s the one to bring her home.  Her mother, a mage, is there when she wakes and does the usual “the universe has shifted’ in the typical vague way.  When confronted about Arath and lie of his mother Juliet’s death while Juliet believes her sons, Arath and Throe, dead, all she gets is, “It’s complicated.”  That’s the point at which I would never have allowed even my own mother to walk away, but instead of pushing, Gillian lets it slide and doesn’t tell her Aunt Juliet the truth.  Letting things slide is all too typical of this book and it’s annoying.  It’s as if Gillian and her sisters aren’t able to think independently, just within the confines of duty, never questioning decisions.  They might was be sophisticated machines, because they sure don’t think much.

As this is the first book of a series, much of the story has yet to unfold.  There’s plenty of action and finally a very lame rational behind her parents handling of Arath and his brother and what they did to her aunt.  Personally, I came close to outright hating Gillian’s mother.  I certainly despised her and nearly choked on the lame justification for what was done.  Gillian does confess her attraction to Arath – big whup.

The Demon King and I is entertaining in the way of all lightweight, chick-lit novels.  The first person style used here is common to the chick-lit genre as is the lack of compelling love story of any kind, just an unrealized attraction between a male and female.  The writing is the hallmark very breezy, chatty, me-me-me-me style that makes for easy, rather mindless reading that often drives me crazy.  Plenty of action keeps the story moving, so it’s easy to forget that no one is demanding answers from the powers that be about the real questions – what’s really happening and why and how come no one bothers to explain till AFTER it’s all over?  Gillian might kick ass, but she isn’t exactly an introspective, deep thinker, just a classic self-adsorbed chick-lit heroine with fighting skills.  She never seriously questions anything her mother does  – mom always does ‘the right thing’ and despite her age still seeks Mom’s approval and fears her disappointment.  This is very insecure behavior that just doesn’t jive with a person who has been trained from birth to shoulder the burden of a Guardian.  The chick-lit style just doesn’t lend itself to the kind of rewarding story telling the plot needs.

Don’t get me wrong, I LIKE a woman with style who kicks butt.  Angelina Santiago in Here Kitty, Kitty certainly fits that description, but she also was a much deeper character for all that the book was laugh out loud funny.  Personally, I would have liked this a bit more if Gillian had a lot more backbone with mom, and thought about things rather than just fighting.  Arath was actually a deeper person than the shallow Gillian and better rounded.  Her sisters are largely window dressing for most of the book and her brother more a handy plot device, though he has got a distinctive personality.  The Demon King and I is a good beach read if you like chick-lit books.

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