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When I read Meljean Brook's Demon Angel , I was riveted by the first half of the book and slowed down by the second half. In reading Demon Moon I had the same experience but in reverse —" with an almost identical overall result. Like Demon Angel , Demon Moon is an ambitious, richly layered, intense, flawed read, a book with flashes of lucid brilliance alongside patches of sluggish prose and staccato imagery.
But even with its weaknesses Demon Moon is a credit to the genre, a smart book that illustrates how possible and potent it is to have an intellectually rich book that is still emotionally passionate and sexually hot. In an ingenious taunting of the increasingly common Romance shorthand of the mutual attraction of mutually attractive characters, Brook creates in Colin an incredibly beautiful and intelligent vampire whose physical allure belies an impressive complexity, generated not by a brooding poetic soul but rather by a personal and terrifying connection to Chaos.
Unable to rely on a mirror to reaffirm his own considerable vanity, Colin sees another reality that is tied to a year-old curse and recent memories of being abandoned in Chaos to the dismembering cruelty of its hideous wyrmwolves.
Savitri Murray, on the other hand, represents a different kind of chaos —" beautiful, brilliant, rebellious, vocationally unfocused, and straddling a strong loyalty to her grandmother's cultural expectations and an equally powerful need for autonomy from artificial constraints.
She also has a horrific memory of abandonment, which defines her character to some degree, as the sole survivor of a senseless robbery and murder of her parents and brother. As in Demon Angel , the romance in Demon Moon is all about dualities and the attraction and interdependence of opposites, portrayed here through the suave but guarded Colin's attraction to Savi, whose disordered outer life belies an incredibly penetrating insight and a stubborn habit of compartmentalizing her most painful memories and emotions, virtually disconnecting her heart from her body and mind.
Both have their own way of running away from unpleasant experiences and emotions; indeed, both Savi and Colin are accomplished evaders, seemingly engaged in the world but protective of their private vulnerabilities. As in Demon Angel , here Brook does not merely pair two opposing personalities in her protagonists; instead she presents both Savi and Colin as internally divided, warring against themselves and each other in a larger battle for a more transcendent condition of wholeness.
And again, the romantic resolution serves as both a component and a reflection of a larger sense of cosmic balance.
Caelum during the adventures of the last book. Chaos at exactly the wrong time, a culminating sensation that makes her completely untrusting of Colin's romantic interest in her. Colin, who doesn't have the same memory as Savi, for reasons that are related to his own psychic condition during that time in Caelum, simply knows that he is enthralled by Savi, an attraction that is enhanced by the psychic scent she gives off, an alluring fragrance that draws him elementally to her.
Although neither understands the full significance of this, it is clear that Savi has been affected by the violent incident she had in the opening scene of the novel with a nosferatu and some hellhound venom, a combination that leaves her with certain physical enhancements and numerous questions. In the absence of satisfying answers, Savi and Colin cannot deny their mutual attraction, even as both attempt to, and as they become more closely bonded, more emotionally open to one another, the more danger they face from the realms of both earth and Chaos —" from wyrmwolves who somehow find their way out of Chaos, to a megalomaniacal demon is there any other kind?
They also face an increasingly challenging mystery around Savi's altered nature and the complications that might pose to an already untenable human-vampire love match.
On a purely superficial level, Demon Moon is a much more straightforward book than Demon Angel. The plot revolves around the need to discover and close what appears to be a hole in the barrier between Chaos and earth and the uncovering of a plot to press vampires into service to a nefarious demon.
Savi and Colin must juggle lusting after one another, falling reluctantly in love, fighting off various otherworldly threats, and struggling to resolve their own unique relationship issues. There is a good deal of attention to making some of the world-building aspects of the series more transparent, as well, but the emotional and physical intensity between Savi and Colin is really the heart of this novel.
Savi and Colin are two people who are each scarred in a way that makes emotional vulnerability frightening, which, of course, drives much of the emotional conflict and the satisfaction in reading their love story. In some ways, Demon Moon feels more like a traditional Romance to me than Demon Angel , even as Brook continues to expand on the originality of her fictional vision. She experiments with different ways to include some of the complex mythology and history into Demon Moon with varying degrees of success.
The passages at the beginning of almost each chapter can be very illuminating, for example, but the informative conversations between Savi and Colin, where Brook uses Savi's natural curiosity to fill in gaps bear moments of artificiality.
During those passages, many of which happen in the first part of the book, I could almost feel the story being built, and I wanted to ignore, rather than explore its infrastructure.
Around halfway through, however, and perhaps not surprisingly at the point where Savi and Colin begin to solidify their emotional connection, the novel takes flight, the prose flowing more easily, the action clipping along nicely, the threads of Savi and Colin's various conflicts pulling together.
As Colin and Savi surrender do their deeper emotions and more intense physical passions, the emotional landscape of the novel really opens up, and I felt just as enthralled as one of Colin's nameless blood donors.
Reading the Guardian stories is like an archeological expedition, with each installment filling in a huge puzzle that comes into focus gradually, requiring patience and persistence on the reader's part.
But the rewards are great, at least they have been for me. Once again Brook builds a fully fleshed out romance between two characters that did not feel intuitively matched to me in the last book. And she is writing an interracial and interspecies romance, with both elements figuring prominently into the character and plot dynamics. I know that these books have been criticized by some readers for being too dense or too much work, but as a reader, I really hope that Brook does not try to conform her continuing work to any reader response, positive or negative.
I was worried in the first part of the book because it felt a little like she was trying to make the book easier to understand, and I just wanted it to flow from her imagination in the purest form possible.
Not that I'm hoping for awkward prose or confusing scenes or suggesting that's how they would show up. I'm only saying that in the same way Judith Ivory, Laura Kinsale, Patricia Gaffney and other great authors grew to mastery over the course of several novels, so, I believe, will Meljean Brook. I think Brook possesses that same gift of being able to weave incredible detail, intellectual depth, and emotional and physical intensity together in a wonderfully satisfying way.
Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions! Some books are meant to be chugged; some are meant to be sipped. Am loving the book, and will eagerly look forward to more from Meljean Brook.
Jackie: I hope you enjoy it; the first half was kind of slow going for me, but I think I might be in the minority on that. What really, really surprised me about this book was how much I grew to like Savitri. This book did it in the most critical way for me, by drawing me into support of Colin and Savi as a couple by showing me why they belonged together and made such a good couple.
Poor Jane; I already make more work for you by having you post the review, and then I don't even do the work of signing it! I'll try to remember to sign it next time, I promise. Yes, I thought Savitri was a wonderful heroine, and I agree that the careful development of the relationship was what set this book apart from most romances.
Your review really did justice to Demon Moon, and I hope it inspires a lot of readers to give this one a try. Janet, I think this is one of the best reviews I've ever read. Thanks for helping me see many things about the book in a different light and isn't it great that DM is complex enough for that? Aoife: Thanks; I hope people will give the book a try, too, and I especially hope that those readers who — like me — are burned out on paranormals will read it, because IMO its strengths really transcend the subgenre and make it a good Romance, period.
Tara Marie: Have you read DM yet? One thing that I particularly loved was the interweaving of the relationship Colin had with Anthony Ramsdell; the bittersweet loss of his family and the mirroring of that ending with a new beginning at the end.
I thought those were particularly deft writing touches, making the memories of Ramsdell and Emily so much more than just filler but actually providing foreshadowing and layering to the book.
Sometimes, the ball gets away from her and us but as she grows as a writer, I feel like we will all solidly be in the same place. Ro and Janet, you are both so insightful on the character of Savi. It was hard to pinpoint just what I liked about her so much but she did feel very modern, very of this age without being too l33t or as if the author was trying too hard to portray a modern woman.
Savi was a perfect match for Colin. One thing that I liked was that I never doubted, for a second, the desire and longing the two had for each other and that provided such great tension as the story moved forward. A friend of mine read Meljean's book and said that Meljean starts with the premise that readers are smart and that we can follow the bouncing ball. I recently read an historical by an established author, and that book was downright painful to read, from awkward writing, to inconsistent copyediting, to contradictory characterizations, to artificial conflicts, to a love story as deep as a puddle.
I know that sounds harsh, but when I read a book like DM I get mad all over again at what has happened to the genre as a whole and how little is expected of readers these days.
I understand that not everyone wants to ponder the nature of the universe when they read. I can see that. Speaking of caves, look who crawled out of hers!
Yes, your point is just another example of what I call Romance shorthand, and with shorter and shorter page counts, more frequent releases, etc. Janet, I did read it and posted my commentary back in May. I also agree with the comments about Ms. Brook assuming her readers are smart.
I actually love that about the book. Great review Janet. It captured my feelings perfectly even the flaws. I finished Demon Angel two days ago and just leapt into Demon Moon. Still, her world-building is unique and her characters incredibly complelling.
Or perhaps the authors feel that all you need is some artifical conflict and a boatload of testosterone to make readers happy. I think that the issue that MB had with DA was that certain explanations and conversations lacked clarity, to the point that I had to stop, re-read, think for a moment and then it hit me what was going on.
I will pick up her next, because as mentioned many authors give a little more with every nove they complete. For that series I had the first two and gave up.
As readers I think we sometimes get used to a certain set of rules, and then someone comes along and turns those all around. I love it!
We do not purchase all the books we review here. Some we receive from the authors, some we receive from the publisher, and some we receive through a third party service like Net Galley.
Some books we purchase ourselves. Home Commenting Policy. Like this: Like Loading Janet isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry.
Jackie June 4, pm. Aoife June 4, pm. Janet June 4, pm. Rosario June 4, pm. Jane June 4, pm. Aoife June 5, am. Tara Marie June 5, am. Janet June 5, am. Kirsten June 5, pm. Jane June 5, pm. Janet June 5, pm. Tara Marie June 6, am.
I am so jealous. This is one of the books I am waiting for. LOL - I think I've read all the online excerpts and now am not so patiently waiting for the release. It was just wonderful, isn't it? I cannot wait for book 3. I am by no means bashing the author or Demon Angel. I had a hard time getting through the book.
REVIEW: Demon Moon by Meljean Brook
The characters are attractive. Savi is smart, curious and refuses to brood. I appreciate that. Colin is complex, insecure and arrogant, with a heart of gold that he'd rather hide. Also, handsome, very