More Than Fiends
If you like Stephanie Plum, and <>Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you are going to really love Maureen Child’s More Than Fiends, the first book in a series of a demon hunter/house cleaner. Don’t expect anything remotely realistic in this story, but it is funny as can be.
When Cassidy Burke was sixteen, she had a fling with Logan Miller. She got pregnant, but didn’t tell him about it since he was a senior college and she didn’t want to distract him so close to graduation. She planned to tell him when he graduated, but just as she was about to, he announced his engagement. Not wanting to break it up, Cassidy kept quite and raised their daughter Thea by herself. Cassidy owns a house cleaning business called Clean Sweep, which evidently is pretty successful even though she’s so scatterbrained that I can’t seen how she’s been able to keep the business afloat. But this is a comedy and you just have to accept it.
As the book begins, Cassidy has undergone a series of mishaps that defy probability, but one good thing is about to fall in her lap. Devlin Cole, the sinfully handsome rather Roarke-esque looking owner of Magic Nights, a night spot with a club on the ground floor and private rooms (for sex) upstairs, wants her to submit a bid for cleaning. Devin also drops some not so subtle hints that he thinks Cassidy is really hot. However, Murphy’s Law rears its head when Logan Miller moves back into town. He’s divorced now and when he drops by to see Cassidy, he meets Thea and can’t help but notice that she looks just like him. Now both Logan and Thea are peeved at Cassidy (this is a light story, so they aren’t really mad at her). But the biggest surprise is Jasmine, a little old lady who appears right out of nowhere to tell Cassidy of her destiny. Apparently she’s from a long line of Demon Dusters, charged with combating demons. The Dusters’ tool is a special spray that not only stops the demons in their tracks, but is also a fabulous window cleaner and can even be used as perfume in a pinch. Once a demon is paralyzed, Cassidy is supposed to rip out his heart, after which he’ll turn into a pile of dust so that all she must do next is vacuum up the remains.
Cassidy’s first thought is “Ewww!!” But she finds out it isn’t all that bad – especially since now as a Demon Duster she is able to use some seriously wicked combat moves. But being a Demon Duster doesn’t solve all of Cassidy’s problems; it actually adds to them, when she discovers that her little home town is teeming with demons and seemingly everyone has known about it for years – everyone but her.
This is one of the silliest books I’ve read in a long time – and I’m using silly as a compliment. There’s not a lot in the book that makes much sense, but if you look on it as taking place in a parallel universe, you can have a lot of fun.
Cassidy is 32, going on twelve. She’s about as immature as my baby niece, but darned if she isn’t likable. So she lies to her child’s father, forgets to deposit the payroll, doesn’t notice that her home town is filled with demons and generally needs a keeper – eh, so what? I just turned off the logical part of my brain and went with the story.
However, there was one incident that made me as smoking mad as a demon who has just been sprayed. Cassidy is a seriously lapsed Catholic, as she lets us know many times. At one point in the story, she mentions that in the sixth grade she went to confession, told the priest that she had cheated on a test, and the priest told her father. No way! A priest can’t break the seal of confession. What he hears is kept in strictest confidence and he can’t tell anyone. If he did, he’d be excommunicated hands down and no pleading for mercy. I’m not one of the Perpetually Offended who think that religion should be exempt from humor, but this wasn’t funny. (I really need to offer my services to writers as a consultant on all things Catholic).
More Than Fiends is open ended (sort of like the Stephanie Plum, Joe Morelli, Ranger triangle) and there will be a sequel out next spring titled A Fiend In Need. I’ll read it for sure. Yes, it’s silly and yes, I had a good time reading it. There are times when readers need some mind candy and while not quite a Godiva, this book is as good as a Hershey’s Kiss.