A DEMON'S ULTIMATUM by Michel Bastaros

A DEMON'S ULTIMATUM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A Texas woman considers accepting a demon’s proposal of marriage in order to save her family in Bastaros’ (Life Near the Sea, 2011) supernatural thriller.

Stacy Buchanan doesn’t know what to make of her disturbing dreams, in which she’s in a dark tunnel, unable to reach a crying baby. Her husband, Todd, attributes them to her natural concern for their 3-year-old daughter, Angel, but Stacy instead thinks that their house may be haunted. This belief is magnified when she starts seeing images of a menacing, demonic figure in windows and mirrors. The demon turns out to be Ayda, chief demon “from underground,” and she has an agenda: Her son, Anoushek, is so attracted to Stacy that he wishes to marry her. Stacy realizes that she doesn’t have much of a choice, particularly when Anoushek threatens to destroy her family if she rejects him. She has 10 days to decide whether to become a demon wife or to watch her husband and child die. This short novel’s mingling of demons and a married woman has shades of Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby (1967), but Bastaros adds fresh elements to the mix. For example, Stacy sees Ayda as unquestionably horrific in appearance, but she finds the pale-skinned Anoushek, a demon/human hybrid, rather handsome. Her impossible decision gives the story a component of drama, as well as suspense, although the author disappointingly skips over much of the 10-day countdown. The story is further enhanced by its general sense of uneasiness, courtesy of a creepy neighbor, Mrs. Heffernan, who freely admits to seeing ghosts. Later, Stacy experiences her dream in real life; this time, it includes another mother, whose veil can’t quite hide her “bulging red eyes.” The book does have some structural and grammatical issues: Ashour, Anoushek’s father, makes an early, sudden appearance but isn’t properly introduced until later; and Ayda, at several points, confusingly appears to be male. There are also other errors, such as when the story introduces Stacy’s mother, Lauren Silverman, as “Lauren Sullivan.” Overall, however, the author’s enthusiasm shines through, leaving readers with lasting images, such as two demons sitting on a sofa, waiting to interrupt Stacy’s psychiatrist appointment.

A horror tale by a gifted storyteller that, despite minor flaws, delivers a wickedly good ending.

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher
Program: Kirkus Indie
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