A U.S. college student who finds a way to travel to a realm of demons may be the first sign of a hopeful prophecy in this fantasy novel.
Riley Moore has a cynical worldview and, consequently, no real friends. But she reaches her threshold for this “poisonous” world after three men attack and mug her, and she goes to sleep that night hoping she’ll awaken somewhere else. Astonishingly, she does; she’s in the realm of Abaddon, populated by demons. These demons are genial—particularly the first one she meets, purple-eyed Ukobach—and they promise to help the student get home. But the next day, she is somehow back at her house, where she lives with her mom. She soon realizes she can journey between realms at will, which demons haven’t been able to do for a long time. Her ability leads some to believe she’s part of a prophecy, stating “the light” will return to Abaddon, where poverty is widespread. While Riley, unhappy with her world, comes to favor Abaddon, Ukobach isn’t exactly content with the violence in his own realm, including the annual blood sacrifice. Meanwhile, a threat looms, as a demon with unwholesome aspirations sets eyes on the human world. Carter’s (Deviants: Ignite, 2017) story treats the demons as peculiar but familiar creatures. For example, they sport traditional horns and tails while other physical attributes, like a demon who looks “as if he were halfway transformed into a werewolf,” are unusual. The author wisely simplifies the demons’ backstory, with minimal references to angels or religion. Riley makes a smashing protagonist, beginning as a 20-something carrying residual teen angst (which she acknowledges) but becoming a woman who respectfully adjusts to customs she doesn’t understand. It’s likewise apparent that these demons aren’t innately evil. Puppyish Ukobach and his brother, Stolas, are immensely likable. And demons’ villainy stems from individual behavior or beliefs. Carter’s brisk narrative rushes readers through a short but satisfying final act and a superlative denouement.
A smart, demon-laden tale with a bevy of personable characters, horns notwithstanding.