Mark of The Demon
Published 2009 370 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Why me? Why now? That’s what Beaulac, Louisiana, detective Kara Gillian was asking herself when an angelic creature named Rhyzkahl unexpectedly appeared during a routine summoning. Kara was hoping to use her occult skills to catch a serial killer, but never had she conjured anything like this unearthly beautiful and unspeakably powerful being whose very touch set off exquisite new dimensions of pleasure.
But can she enlist his aid in helping her stop a killer who’s already claimed the lives - and souls - of thirteen people? And should she? The Symbol Man is a nightmare that the city thought had ended three years ago. Now he’s back for an encore and leaving every indication on the flesh of his victims that he, too, is well versed in demonic lore.
Kara may be the only cop on Beaulac’s small force able to stop the killer, but it is her first homicide case. Yet with Rhyzkahl haunting her dreams, and a handsome yet disapproving FBI agent dogging her waking footsteps, she may be in way over her head….
Mark of The Demon is the debut novel for new urban fantasy author Diana Rowland. Mixing modern crime writing with demon summoning, Mark of The Demon is a welcome addition to the urban fantasy genre. I feel that I need to be honest early in the review and say that there are absolutely no vampires in Mark of The Demon - but with powerful demons and a sadistic serial killer readers are not left wanting for spilled blood or for dangerously sexy monsters either.
Mark of The Demon is set in modern day Louisiana, the world is exactly like our own except that there are a handful of people with the ability to see the arcane and summon demons. The demons are not the evil beings of the Hell from the Christian belief system but are beings from another dimension or plane of existence that regularly intersects with our own. When the planes are in convergence and the moon phases are right demons can be summoned to our world. The more powerful the demon, the less they like being summoned – offerings and protections are used to negotiate with them to cooperate with the summoner. The existence of demons is a closely kept secret and the general population have no idea that there is another plane of existence or that demons can be pulled through from it.
Mark of The Demon is narrated in first person by Kara Gillian, an experienced police detective and demon summoner. Kara makes a realistic heroine, believable as both a police officer and a practitioner of the arcane. The former is no doubt pulled from the author’s own background as a real life police detective while the latter is the result of imaginative fantasy world building and good writing.
Realistic police investigations using modern-day forensics techniques don’t always sit well with the fantasy aspects required for an urban fantasy novel. Often authors can feel it necessary to apply scientific explanations to the supernatural – usually sucking the “para” out of the “paranormal” as a result. Luckily Mark of The Demon doesn’t suffer from over analysis of the arcane. Diana Rowland handles the mixture of police procedural and fantasy writing well – giving a wealth of detail to the police investigation aspects of the story and allowing for a suitable amount of mystery for the demons and alternative dimensions.
Mark of The Demon starts with the discovery of a mutilated body marked with a weird symbol. The meaning of the mark is unknown but it matches with the symbol that was carved into 13 mutilated bodies three years ago - all victims of a serial killer who has obviously started to kill again. Kara has the advantage over the other detectives and investigators in that she can see traces of the arcane that the murderer has left on the victim. The further into the investigation she gets the more likely it looks that the serial killer is tying to summon a powerful demon lord.
At the same time, Kara’s own small summoning goes wrong and instead of pulling through a lower level demon resembling a cross between a goat and a dog she gets Rhyzkahl - a demon lord of unearthly beauty. Rhyzkahl may be attractive but he is not the stuff that romantic heroes are made of. His nature is too alien and too inhuman for him to really appeal as a romantic lead, which may disappoint romance fans. Still he does prove to be a sexy distraction and adds spice to the story.
Mark of The Demon combines fast-paced crime writing and the arcane art of demon summoning to good effect. The resulting novel wouldn’t be out of place on the bookshelf of a crime novel fan and should definitely have a place on the shelves of an urban fantasy reader. This book makes a top read (even without any vampires!)
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Visit Diana Rowland’s website to find out more about her work, read resources for writers and read an excerpt from this novel.