I love the arrivals & departures theme of this new book by Lucinda Elliot, one of my favorite UK writers. It is original and densely crafted, a suspenseful, contemporary (80s and 90s) paranormal romance that dips into demonology and the distant literary past. I recommend it to literary and genre readers alike.
Initially I was so turned off by Charley, the shallow human who is on and off with our heroine Natalie, a lovely, voluptuous London model hooked on sausage rolls, that I was eager to meet the competition. He is a daemon. And what a daemon! Aleks Sager is vivid, complex, likeable, and even vulnerable as a struggling writer, which doesn't make him any less paranormal. Is he dangerous?
Smitten with Natalie's Pre Raphaelite looks and fluid mind, Aleks finds himself literally and figuratively chasing her through the dark streets of their desperately fashionable demi-monde world, which is inhabited by wannabe models, agents, writers, and actors, who run into each other, hit on each other, and leave each other at parties. The setting never slows the pace; it is gorgeously cinematic.
Lucinda handles all characterization with sure, deft touches. When we first meet Aleks, he is agonizing over his hate mail and his love life. Demonic physical traits are dropped in subtly. "As he buttons his shirt over the mat of hair on his chest, leaving the two top buttons undone – if you’re as hairy as he is then the only thing to do is to flaunt it – he pulls a wry face, glancing down at those long nails."
The archaic spelling of "daemon" and references to Pushkin make me want to know more about demonology and the author who was the Russian equivalent of Shakespeare. My curiosity is satisfied by elements of synchronicity, a character who comes alive, and helpful ending notes.
Lucinda also has an original way of handling the language. Take the capital letter in these sentences, which describe a human's foreplay that fails to do the job. "'There? How about There? Is That It?' He doesn’t see the humour in the situation. His tone of irritation just held in check guarantees that it isn’t There or There or Anywhere." Ingenious and hilarious.
Is Aleks Sager's daemon bad or good ? The paranormals and humans get sorted out. The tension escalates on several fronts, and my interest in the twists and turns in the relationship triangle never lets up. I read the book in one day, and my mind was blown by the ending. Next stop for this book should be a London or Hollywood screen treatment.
I was given an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.