“The Devil Inside” by Jenna Black (urban fantasy) was an impulse buy while browsing in the New Releases section – I liked the cover, there was a Kelley Armstrong blurb on the front, I was intrigued by the couple of pages I read… so thought why not? Excerpt here.
Having read more than a few so-so urban fantasy books recently, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. It’s set in a world where some humans voluntarily choose to host demons, while others are possessed against their will. Back cover blurb…
Exorcism isn’t a job, it’s a calling—and a curse. Just ask Morgan Kingsley, a woman who has a stronger aura than any demon. Or so she thought. Now, in a pair of black leather pants and a kick-ass tattoo, Morgan is heading back to Philadelphia after a nasty little exorcism—and her life is about to be turned upside down…by the demon that’s gotten inside her.
Not just any demon. Six feet five inches of dark, delicious temptation, this one is to die for—that is, if he doesn’t get Morgan killed first. Because while some humans vilify demons and others idolize them, Morgan’s demon is leading a war of succession no human has ever imagined. For a woman trying to live a life, and hold on to the almost-perfect man, being possessed by a gorgeous rebel demon will mean a wild ride of uninhibited thrills, shocking surprises, and pure, unadulterated terror…
Morgan Kingsley has the power to exorcise demons, and as you may have guessed from the title and blurb, she ends up hosting a demon against her will. Err… the last line of the blurb is probably overly-dramatic, but you get the idea. As the story progresses, Morgan starts to question her original beliefs about demons. There are some very interesting secondary characters in this book, including Adam (a demon host who heads up the police department that deals with rogue demons), Dominic, Adam’s boyfriend with a bit of history, and oh, Morgan’s demon.
I liked the world-building and the whole demon backstory - hmmm… thinking about it some more, this book is vaguely reminiscent of Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake books, and her vampire Church of the Eternal Life. There’s also a parallel with Anita starting to change her mind about vampires as she finds out more about their world. And instead of being a vampire executioner, Morgan’s a exorcist. Or something like. They’re essentially very different books though.
Morgan was a very likeable character - yes, she does some stupid things but I can understand her motivations and why she does them. Though (and at the risk of offending some people out there), Morgan’s on-off boyfriend’s name is Brian. And I struggle with the idea of a romantic lead named Brian. Maybe Bryan. But Brian? Okay, I’m shallow. Also, just a heads-up that there are a couple of explicit sex scenes, some m/m, and S&M, if that’s your thing. Or not.
There are a few holes in the plot, and you could argue that there are a couple of unnecessary sex scenes, but Ms Black creates a fascinating world with shades of grey. I’ll definitely be buying the next book “The Devil You Know” (and damn, I’ll have to wait until August 2008 to do so), and looking out for her other books as well. B for me.