Finally, a fantasy story!
Not that I haven't enjoyed all the other stories I've read so far, but the fantasy genre is kind of my baby. My very first stories were fantasy-themed and I've had a love affair with both that genre and horror from as far back as I can recall.
So naturally, I was very excited by the opportunity to review John Dylena's latest book, The Demon at my Door, a story about a succubus who moves in as the uninvited roommate of the only man she's ever been unable to kill.
Sounds almost like an anime, right? And in a good way!
I'll explain more as we break it down after the jump.
While the story itself is entertaining and highly enjoyable, there were a slew of technical errors that jarred me out of the narrative on a fairly regular basis. That being said, John still crafts a compelling world despite the flaws, and that's a pretty difficult thing to do. It's not every book that can pull that off, but The Demon at my Door does.
John did it. He managed to come up with an amazingly original idea without delving so deep into it that it takes 3,000 pages and nine books to explore it all. While there is a planned sequel, John has paced the events of the novel in such a way that we can all rest assured it won't fall prey to the same condition that turns wonderful fantasy novels into bloated tomes of indecipherable and unnecessarily complicated lore. It's very reminiscent of the Tenchi Muyo! series, for those who have seen it, and Raethiana (the succubus) is so reminiscent of Ryoko that I was immediately in love.
John also has this wonderful scene set in a demon market, which is just about the best scene in the whole book. Seriously, this guy could be a great fantasy writer someday - the potential is all there.
Character Development: ★★★★
Did I mention I love Raethiana?
Because I love Raethiana.
There aren't many characters to pick and choose from in this book, but the limited cast serves it well. It creates an insular world while making everything outside of it seem distant, as I imagine it would be to John after having so much of his time consumed by a succubus and her demonic world. Not that John has ever felt particularly "at home" in or attached to his world, but we see it become even more pronounced as the story winds on, which I thought was a nice touch.
However, John is also the least developed of all the characters. I get that he's supposed to be a mortal who gets thrust into the world of the occult, but I would have liked to have seen more action from him. John has a lot of things happen to him and I hope that he gets to affect some change of his own in the next book.
John Dylena's greatest technical flaw is tense.
This is an issue for many writers, whose thoughts are often more streams of consciousness than linear bullet trains speeding us toward the next destination in real-time.
Unfortunately, the tense errors were so numerous that I couldn't help but skim over small sections to avoid them, and I found myself constantly correcting them in my head. I am a former copyeditor for both textbooks and a Special Investigations Unit, however, so these things stand out more to me than they might other people.
John has assured me that he is working on uploading new, error-free versions now, but I can only review what I actually read.
Still, don't let it prevent you from reading this! In spite of the errors, there's a really great story with lovely characters and a really sexy premise.
Story Satisfaction: ★★★★★ (4.5)
This story had a twist I actually didn't see coming - and that's a difficult feat to achieve.
The ending was much more than satisfactory - it complemented and enriched the entire storyline. Even as a cliffhanger!
The rest of the story is equally satisfying, and there's very little suspension of disbelief necessary because all the events seem so reasonable (for a fantasy world, anyway). I wasn't left screwing up my face thinking things like, That's a stretch! or Well that's awfully convenient... John manages to balance the freedoms of magic with actual, and sometimes inescapable, consequences and it's incredibly admirable.
My one caveat here is that I did feel the story was a little rushed. John is sort of a minimalist author, who doesn't always spend a lot of time detailing what's happening, and many scenes can feel a little empty in spots because of it. I would have liked to have seen more dimension in his settings, as well as less random head-jumping that occasionally did not suit the narrative.
The Sex: ★★★
John writes as a minimalist, as I stated earlier, and that applies to his sex, as well, which means that some parts can come off very play-by-play. The exception to this are the scenes involving gender transformation, and John does a very good job of illustrating how a man might experience sexuality and sensuality differently from inside a woman's body. Since gender transformation is a big part of this story, his involvement and attention to detail serves him well in these scenes, but I would like to see that same consideration given to some of the others.
Additionally, John utilizes his imagination very well here. Each scene is creative, with unusual circumstances and settings that immediately piqued my interest. He doesn't hesitate to push boundaries, either - from multiple partners to gender transformation to demonic domination and enslavement, you can be sure you'll get your money's worth from The Demon at my Door.
You can purchase John Dylena's book by clicking the cover image at the top of this post. It is also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.