“To know ourselves and, in turn, to endure the perpetual reminder of our solitude. To be cast out. To wander alone.” ~~Andrew Pyper in The Demonologist
From Lauren’s Perspective:
Oddly enough, it was the advertising for this book that drew me in. This doesn’t usually happen to me, as I am not usually the type of person to notice advertising without it being thrown in my face. But the truth was, this book was sort of thrown in my face. The advertising wasn’t particularly clever, but it was everywhere. Every time I walked onto the subway I would see this bright red book cover staring back at me. Every time I walked into a book store I would see a poster exclaiming “coming soon from Andrew Pyper”. So finally, after having been bombarded with images of this supposedly amazing book, I took the time to read about it, and in a simple blurb about the book, I knew I had to read it. I even knew that I would love it.
The plot was perfectly complex without being too hard to follow. The books premise is based around Professor David Ullman’s strange encounter with a “thin woman” who sends him on a journey that results in the disappearance of his daughter. The premise is, of course, much more complicated then that, but that sentence essentially sums up the plot. The intricacies that follow this story, including the ever present link to Milton’s Paradise Lost, as well as the texts religious overtones are more than enough to keep you turning page after page after page. From the first chapter, I couldn’t put the book down, which is exactly how I enjoy my books. Intriguing, interesting, intricate.
The characters were as interesting as the plot. Professor Ullman, our stories protagonist, was a doting father, studious professor who excelled in all things Milton while remaining a devout atheist, and a generally likable guy. He suffered a few tragedies that sent him on a misguided mission which resulted in his whole world being turned even more upside down than it already was. His faults gave him character and his strengths gave him charm. Ullman’s main counterpart, O’Brien, was a likable know-it-all, who came off in a pretentious manner, but one that you could relate to and even wish to have as a friend in your own life. She was the antithesis of Ullman’s cheating ex-wife, and the romantic undertones of their relationship was a pleasure to read because they didn’t detract from the books main message, but instead added to the depth of the characters and their need for comfort in times of fear, rather than their need to be loved. Even the books secondary characters were well written. Tess, though she appears very briefly before being lost to a mysteriously “unnamed” dark force, is a precocious eleven year old with a brain as big as her fathers. She seems like the perfect daughter, if at times slightly moody. My only complaint would be in the character of “the pursuer”. He was mysterious to a fault. His purpose in the story never fully grasped. Who did he work for? Why did he do it? Was he human or other? What made him care so much about the life of David Ullman? These questions were skirted around but never directly resolved, so I found his presence slightly frustrating. All other secondary characters in the book were well used and in some cases, incredibly creepy. No one was there without purpose.
Moving on to Pyper’s writing style, I would call it more than adequate. There was nothing spectacular or mind-blowing about it, but there was nothing disappointing in it either. Sometimes a book can’t be all about perfecting the English language, sometimes it has to be about the story first and the words second, and in a book that entwines Paradise Lost with demonology with a cross-country spiritual journey to find a missed loved one, the story had to come first. This is not a fault. If the language had been too convoluted, the reader would have easily gotten lost among the words and been unable to follow this fascinating, and actually terrifying story.
Pyper’s tale has been related to Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code, but I think this is doing him a disservice. Pyper is a much better writer than Brown, in my opinion, although both can surely tell an interesting story. To me, Pyper’s writing is more similar to that of Steven King, in style and in story line. There was just enough horror and scenes of spine chilling terror that fans of King would feel right at home within Andrew Piper’s words.
All in all, The Demonologist was definitely a good book and definitely worth the quick read. Just be prepared to sleep with the night light on.
Plot – 4/5
Writing/Style/Form – 4/5
Characters – 4/5
Enjoyment/Entertainment Value – 4/5
Overall Score – 16/20