Blood of the Demon (Kara Gillian, Book 2)
by Diana Rowland
Cover Artist: Juliana Kolesova
Review by Cathy Green
Bantam Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553592368
Date: 23 February 2010 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
When we last saw Beaulac, LA police detective Kara Gillian, at the end of Mark of the Demon, she'd just finished saving the world from the Symbol Man a serial killer and crazed demonic summoner trying to take over the world. Of course, in order to do this, she had to summon the Demon Lord Rhyzkahl, in the process getting disemboweled by a demon and brought back to life again. And since a couple of weeks passed before her resurrection, and the police department had held her funeral, she had a bit of explaining to do. Fortunately, FBI Agent Ryan Kristoff was on hand to provide the explanation that she was working undercover on special assignment.
Blood Of The Demon starts pretty much where Mark Of The Demon left off. Kara's Aunt Tessa is in a nursing home, her life force having been ripped out whole by the Symbol Man to fuel his final ritual. Kara is desperately seeking a cure to put her aunt's essence back in her body before it fails. She's hoping to find an answer in her aunt's extensive occult library, but her aunt has the place warded against everyone including Kara. To get to the books, Kara is forced to summon a fairly powerful demon to undo the wards.
Meanwhile, in her mundane life as a law enforcement officer she's called upon to investigate what looks to be the murder-suicide of a fellow officer and his wife. However, using her "oversight", Kara can see that their essences have been ripped to shreds and consumed. Initially Kara is worried that someone caused this by improperly summoning and returning a minor demon, but once assured that this is not the case, and the bodies start piling up, she's forced to hunt down whatever person or demon is consuming people's essences. This consumption is a twofold problem because not only is the consumer getting stronger, but the fact that the life force is not going back from whence it came will eventually upset the balance of things.
Kara is ably assisted by Agent Kristoff and his partner. Will Kara be able to restore her aunt's lifeforce? Who or what is eating people's essences? Why is Kara still dreaming of Lord Rhyzkahl? All these questions and more are answered in Blood Of The Demon.
Rowland does a great job of combining the police procedural with urban (or in this case suburban-rural) fantasy and paranormal romance. She also does a good job of integrating both aspects into the cases Kara is investigating. This is not a "cop by day, demonic summoner by night" adventure. The mundane particulars of law enforcement are well described, which is not surprising given that Rowland is a former police officer, crime scene investigator and morgue attendant. Having the protagonist be a cop rather than a PI makes a lot of sense because it means Kara always has a good reason to be present and asking questions when a body shows up.
Rowland has also created an interesting system of magic and supernatural beings where the demons are not the tradition Christian evil demons, rather they simply operate under a completely different standard of behavior but with their own honor code. And because demons accumulate prestige back in their own dimension by accumulating experiences in our dimension, it makes sense that when summoned they are willing to bargain and do things for summoners rather than try to eviscerate them. Rowland uses this to comedic effect with the large and powerful demon Kara summons to remove her aunt's wards. She needs to summon him in her own basement with her own summoning diagrams, but he's so big (and winged) that she needs to rent a U-haul to get him to her aunts house. The demon is happy to be driven about in the back of a moving truck, since it's a new experience he can relate to the other demons when he gets back, as is using the phone and eating microwave popcorn.
In addition, Rowland expands the number of people in Kara's life who are aware of demons and of Kara's ability to summon. This make sense, because given given the level of demonically caused mayhem in her sleepy Louisiana town, it would be pretty hard to remain ignorant or in denial forever. Also, an expanded circle of friends in the know makes it easier for Kara to do what she needs to do instead of wasting time on work-arounds.
While Rowland gives enough information at the beginning of book about what happened in the first book in the series that a new reader will not be lost or confused, the reading of the novel will be a more enjoyable experience if you read Mark Of The Demon first. Blood Of The Demon is an exciting, suspenseful story that builds nicely on the foundation laid by the previous book in the series. While Rowland resolved the major plot points of Blood Of The Demon, she does leave a couple of things unresolved which will no doubt be addressed in the next book of the series. This is definitely a series worth following.