An adult tale of possession with a devilishly ambiguous ending.
In Siemsen’s (The Opal, 2013, etc.) third novel, a demon named Frederick, infatuated with Joseph Cling’s girlfriend, Melanie Demotte, chooses to possess Joseph’s body. Frederick tells readers up front that the story ends with Joseph’s death but warns that he could be “lying (I am, by my very nature, a liar), just stringing you along.” Frederick successfully woos Melanie but barely manages to do Joseph’s job as a Postal Service investigator and fails utterly to fool Joseph’s twin brother, James—who knows more about Joseph (and, as it turns out, about Frederick) than anybody else does. Frederick goes on to face a series of disasters, both on and off the job. There’s no shortage of action in Siemsen’s well-spun tale, but the central conceit may require some suspension of disbelief; Frederick possesses Joseph’s body and remains a completely functional person, but he doesn’t recognize any of Joseph’s relatives, doesn’t remember any of the private language invented by Joseph and James, and has no idea how to perform his Postal Service job. There are also some unnecessary digressions into the origin of demons and questions of good and evil. One such digression, however, serves as a précis of this demon’s story: “I scoured my memory for every instance of my good, if not pure acts, while maintaining convicted reassurance that none of it mattered anyway. I am a fucking demon and this is what I do.”
An engaging, if uneven, supernatural tale.