Demons, serial killers and murderous parents – what more could you want on a road trip from Hell?
Title: Demon Road
Author: Derek Landy
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Mystery & Thrillers
Source: NetGalley Review Copy (Ebook)
Sixteen year old Amber sits in the principal’s office, not believing her life could get much worse. 12 hours later, she is on the run with a man she has never met before and another side to her that she is struggling to understand. Her normal life gets turned upside down as Amber finds herself facing the worst the world has to offer: serial killers, demons and her parents.
I love the whole premise to this book. The opening sentence brought me straight in and I found myself avidly devouring the book. The pacing is excellent – lots going on, danger at every corner, but with moments that allow you to take in the latest twist in the tale. Landy does an excellent job at playing with expectations and more than once did I find myself bursting out with a ‘What!?’ or a ‘No!’ in the middle of the train. I did find that the story started off very quickly – I would have liked to see a bit more of Amber’s relationship with her parents as I think that would have made later interactions between them more poignant. The ending was also a little abrupt, leaving plenty of room for a sequel. However, the adventures throughout the rest of Demon Road were shocking, terrifying and just plain brilliant.
One of the main strengths of this book is the relationship between the three core characters. Amber, Milo and Glen are all very different, with very different backgrounds and personalities. As a result, their interactions are funny, but they also allow for development of each of the three and the creation of a meaningful relationship between them which can often be missing if the characters are too similar.
Amber, as a lead, was quite good. She did get a little irritating at times, but given she was on the run for her life while being chased by demons, I can give her a little leeway to be annoying. I did have an issue with the description of her normal self (short, a bit overweight) as ugly and her demon self (tall and skinny) as beautiful, especially how many times this was emphasised and repeated – not great for young girls to be reading.
Milo, my favourite of the trio, was the most mysterious of the three characters. I found him interesting to read and the slow reveal of his past and identity worked really well in both developing the character. His car was also a delight to read about, especially when she starts playing a bigger role in the story.
Glen was probably my least favourite of the three, although I loved his interactions with Milo. Talkative and eternally optimistic, Glen is marked for death and joins the trio in an attempt to make the most of his last few days or pass the mark onto its intended person. He definitely grew on me, as I did not really like him much at all at the beginning.
I would have like a bit more development with the other characters, particularly the villains of the book, as I felt that they did not really feel much of a threat nor did I really appreciate them for the characters they were. I did find some of the side characters that the trio meet on their road trip were a bit more fleshed out than the villains seemed to be which was a little frustrating.
Demon Road is set in modern day America, but with a side helping of demons. I really like how Landy integrated the demon world into the real world and how there was no one type of demon – each was different with their own set of skills. The Shining Demon was everything you would expect a deal-making demon to be –tricky, word-twisting and a little bit sadistic. I loved how the humans who made deals with him had different reasons to, from immortality and power to the life of their child. The descriptions of the towns made them seem realistic and easy to picture, although I still can’t imagine the place that Amber started in that well. It just came across as a starting point for the adventure rather than her home.
Although Demon Road did have a bit of a shaky start (but a fantastic first sentence), it definitely picked up into a thrilling, spine-tingling adventure. Fast-paced, it is very easy to devour the book, despite its long length. There are a number of gruesome deaths so it is not for those easily offended, but if you do like a good, demonic story, this is one for you. I cannot wait to see where Amber’s story goes in the next book.