Demon Inside
by Stacia Kane, fantasy (2009)
Pocket, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4391-5507-3


Demon Inside is a genuine sequel to Stacia Kane's Personal Demons, with the same characters coming back for an ongoing story line and all, so I'd strongly recommend that you start with that book first before you attempt to read this one. You can read this review without worries, though, because I can describe this plot without revealing too many spoilers.

Anyway, in this one, our heroine Megan Chase finds herself the Gretneg of House Io Adflicta. This means that despite being mostly human, she is now the leader of a small pack of demons. However, in this one, she encounters some sinister threat on her demons even as she struggles to reconcile herself with her new role as Gretneg. Her demon boyfriend Greyson Dante is still here, and in fact, Megan becomes dangerously very dependent on him.

Unlike Personal Demons, which is a cute light-hearted read with some somber overtones, Demon Inside is so blisteringly dark that I end up feeling terribly down by the last page. I can't help thinking that there are parallels between this book and Richelle Mead's Thorn Queen, which came out at about the same time. Both books deal with a heroine struggling to adapt to an unexpected new role in her life, but where the heroine of Richelle Mead's book ends up stronger, Megan here is like a drowning victim trying to hold on to her last breath. For a psychologist, she is... well, calling her a hot mess is actually understating her mental condition in this book. Megan spends the entire book whining, complaining, and losing control of a situation to the point that she's lucky that Greyson is around to pick up the pieces for her.

It is quite unrealistic how Megan manages to hold on to her role of Gretneg for even this short while without someone honing in to usurp her powers. Also, for someone who starts out worried about the threat on her demons, Megan has too much time to indulge in her self-absorbed whining and whinging, to the point that the threat appears to pose no credible at all despite its impressive entrance into the story. How can I take it seriously when the main characters can afford to spend so much time indulging Megan in her emotional theatrics? Megan spends the whole book being relentlessly negative and weak, the depressive nature of her character rubs off on me after all. Thank goodness for puppy videos on YouTube or I'd be really blue.

Despite its shortcomings, Demon Inside has one refreshing plus. For a story of this sort, it is wonderfully free of spotlight moments on the heroine's reproductive ability. No demon blinks an eye about a woman being a Gretneg - it's her humanity that gets a reaction from them. The demons here have sexual urges, but it's not their overriding nature. Men, human or otherwise, can meet the heroine without experiencing overwhelming urges to bed her. Megan is not the most awesome woman ever in this story. She is not required to make a magic baby with the hero. The plot doesn't revolve around which man getting to bed and impregnate Megan. How many romantic urban fantasy stories can boast of this, I ask? Therefore, if you like your stories angst-ridden and free from cartoon-like fetish of what is happening in the heroine's private areas, you may want to give this one a try.

Alas, Demon Inside is too angst-ridden for me. The heroine is too weak, too screwed-up, and too dependent on the hero for me to view her as a functional character. Hopefully the next book will see Megan getting to take control of her life and not making me feel as if I've slashed my wrists ten times over and still wouldn't expire from all that pain and misery.

Rating: 75


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