The Demon in Me
Paranormal romance, you and I had a good ride, but the party’s over. After at least five years of happily reading about vampires and werewolves as desirable heroes instead of the stuff of nightmares, I have hit the end. Despite a likeable heroine, a tight plot and an easy writing style, Michelle Rowen’s The Demon in Me will be my last paranormal romance.
The title says it all: there is a demon inside Eden Riley. And she’s attracted to him. On an emotional level, I simply could not get past this.
Eden is a psychic, but it’s an on-again, off-again talent that she has little control over. However, as she recently aided in a police investigation with the help of these powers, she’s sometimes called to the scene of the crime to do her thing. When the story opens, Eden is in a house searching for a serial killer. She senses him and a bit of action ensues when he tries to get away. He’s killed and then this black cloud comes out of him and slips into Eden’s body.
Eden takes this pretty well in that she does not go out-of-her-mind crazy. I actually think Eden is crazy for not going crazy. I would have been committed to an insane asylum since I would have tried to kill myself. Because not only has a black cloud entered her body, it talks to her, like an inner voice. At that point, I would have cut my ears off, bashed my head in and tried to rip the thing out of my stomach. Eden has conversations.
Due to her preternatural level of calm in the face of demon possession, Eden is able to think things through and decides to get exorcised. However, once she hires an exorcist team, the demon inside her, Darrak, tells her his sob story. If she exorcises him, he’ll be no more, thrust into a void of hellish nothing, with no hope of return as either demon or human. Because of his pleas, she decides not to exorcise him and he continues to live with her as his host. Not just that, she agrees to help him find the witch who put a spell on him which forces him to go from human body to human body, like a life-sucking parasite.
And so the story begins and so it continues, with Eden and Darrak on a quest for his witch and on the run from demon-killers. But as I said, things ended for me quite early on, on an emotional level. Though Rowen’s world-building is such that we’re made to understand that ‘demon’ is not synonymous with ‘evil’ (so leaving the door open for Darrak as a desirable hero and giving food for thought on the problem of ascribing to moral absolutes) I still could not get into this romance. I cannot imagine anyone falling in love with a demon. Worse yet, one that looks like one and used to act like one, hellfire and all. I thought I’d been fully desensitized to the pre-romance horror definitions of paranormal beings, but this book, as funny and innovative as it is (and yes, it is both those things and just plain readable besides), made me realise that there are still some nightmare creatures that remain nightmares for me.
That said, if I wasn’t so squeamish, I would have enjoyed this book greatly. Eden has a nice voice. She’s a bit down on her luck but she’s not stupid and pathetic with it; neither is she overly plucky. She’s pretty normal and so easy to connect with (on all other planes save for the one where she’s okay with a demon living in her). Though The Demon in Me is not told in first person, Eden’s third person voice is so close to the surface that it might as well have been. In addition, the world set-up is not overly extensive, but where it’s described, it offers just enough of a paranormal difference to the other romances I’ve read over the years to make Eden’s witch, demon, shape-shifter and faerie-filled world intriguing. In addition, because she’s new to the ways of this supernatural world, the reader learns along with her as bits and pieces of paranormal history and current politics are revealed.
This is the first in the Living in Eden series, and I sort of wish I had the stomach to continue reading so that I could find out more about the world being developed, but I can’t do it. For me, a demon is a demon, not a romance hero. But if you wouldn’t blink twice at such a plot set-up, I’d recommend The Demon in Me as it’s hard not to like it otherwise.