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Julie Kenner

REVIEW:  Pax Demonica by Julie Kenner

REVIEW: Pax Demonica by Julie Kenner


When orphan Kate goes to Rome with her family, she’s hoping for a little R&R. The chance to bond with her husband, spend quality time with her kids, and visit her pseudo-family at Forza Scura.

In other words, this suburban mom is doing the tourist thing, and intending to do it up right. But while Kate may want to take cheesy pictures and buy overpriced souvenirs, the demon population has other plans. And soon Kate and over-eager daughter Allie are thrust into the middle of a demonic feud.

Now Kate’s going to have to call on both her hunting skills and her mothering skills-because if she fails, Kate and family might just find themselves sightseeing in hell…

Dear Ms, Kenner,

I had gotten used to yearly installments of the Kate Connor Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series. In “Demon Ex Machina,” some fairly intense stuff happened and the book ended with Kate, her teenage “demon hunting daughter in training” Allie, plus husband Stuart and toddler Timmy outbound for a vacation in Rome. Since Kate got her training during her years living there, I knew that things were bound to get hot and heavy fairly soon. After all, demons rarely leave Kate alone for long now that she’s back in hunting mode. I set my series alarm for another year and hunkered down to wait.

And wait. And wait. And wonder if this would be another series cut off before its time. In 2012 you announced that the series would continue with a new book soon which got me all excited yet still I waited. Okay so I realize I sound as if I’m whinging but I did have moments of doubt that I’d ever see this book. Until, Huzzah!, “Pax Demonica” was released and I exhaled the breath I’d held for the last five years.

Events quickly reve up and within 12 hours of landing in Rome, Kate – and Allie – get confronted by demons 3 different times demanding something from Kate about which she’s clueless. This is par for the course for this series. Yet it spins its wheels a lot in that Kate mentally rehashes a lot of information about the state of her marriage and trust with Stuart, demon hunting and training Allie. Lots and lots of the same thoughts. Still, given how long it’s been since the last book, I really needed a bit of a refresher as a few facts Kate mentions had completely slipped my mind.

The demons step up their activity, new characters are introduced, the Connors do some sight seeing and Kate runs up some hefty phone charges to her friend Laura back home trying to sort out just what exactly is going on. Something is rotten in the city of Rome and Kate doesn’t have long to figure it out. But wait! it looks like some demons, who need human body shells to experience the finer things in life like fine Italian leather, good wine and, one presumes, chocolate, might actually be willing to kick in some information in order to keep the status quo. Go figure.

As the plot accelerated, it began to get into some deus ex machinas – there’s a ritual needed to destroy something that wasn’t destroyed earlier. Why wasn’t it destroyed? Well the ritual wasn’t known. Why can it be destroyed now? Well, the ritual was recently discovered. How was the object found after years of being hidden? Well we don’t know but it has been found now.

Even with everything I’ve just said, darned if you don’t suck me into the climax of the book, whirl me around until my head spins and send me screaming to the end of the ride. The finale here is funny as well as gripping and I have to agree with Allie – it’s so Indiana Jones that I’d probably set up the obstacles exactly as is done too. Hey, it works.

Once again the story is the same in some regards yet it’s different and new too. New local, some new people, some new – uh, helpers, and the Connor family’s relationships continue to change even as they grow as people and a family. Allie looks to have a bright demon hunting future, Stuart might shape up to eventually be more of a help than a hindrance, and Kate could have a new part time job.

Usually I’d say that this series should be read in order but honestly, I can say that since I didn’t remember much of the last book, I went into it a little blind and did okay. There’s enough explanation given to catch things up without it turning into an info-dump. I’m so glad to see this series continuing as my heart has been ripped a few times in the past over unfinished books. I do hope that we won’t have to wait this long for the next installment to see where things go from here. B-


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REVIEW:  The Demon You Know by Julie Kenner

REVIEW: The Demon You Know by Julie Kenner

Dear Ms. Kenner,

When I got your recent email newsletter, I was so happy to see that there’s going to be a new book in the Kate Connor “Demon Hunting Soccer Mom” series. And to whet my appetite and get me back into this world, you also have a short novella – now available on its own -from Smashwords in lots of lovely ebook formats. Sweet!

demon-you-knowWith not a lot of room to spare, you get straight down to business in the story yet still manage to compactly introduce the main characters of the book and move the ones who aren’t central to this story conveniently out of the way before the action starts. Kate’s fourteen year old daughter Allie, who’s begun training with her mom to become a demon hunter, is supposedly off for a teenage night out at the mall before heading off to a slumber party. Only the kids have pulled a fast one on the parents and are actually at a party. Allie isn’t too sure about either the place or the slightly older guy hosting the party which, oddly, seems to be designed more for teens than twenty year olds. She does know there’s something wrong with the punch everyone’s getting drunk off of and, when the true situation shows its ugly colors, that she’s not ready to defeat the demon by herself. But how to get mom there in time to save the day?

All the hallmarks of a Kate Connor story are here – the characters, the SoCal location, 14 year old Allie trying to be a little more grown up than she actually is yet basically a good girl at heart, her friend Mindy, Mindy’s mom Laura who is Kate’s best friend and, of course, a demon hell bent on wrecking havoc. With as many of them as seem to like this lovely little town, it’s amazing that the population at large still has no idea that they’re in as much perpetual danger as they are. But with Kate to save the day, they’ve got a fighting chance for survival. Kate also somehow manages to keep the reality of what’s going on from the newspaper front pages and Facebook (“I was at a weird party last night and almost became a human sacrifice!”) As usual, I enjoyed the mother/daughter relationship, and the fact that Allie can still have her sulky, teen moments.

But mother and daughter are starting to work great together as a team – including the shared use of “weapons” – and I can’t wait for the next full length adventure. This time actually in – I hope – the catacombs of Rome. B