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REVIEW: Demon Ex Machina by Julie Kenner

WARNING: spoilers for the first four books are impossible to avoid.

Dear Ms. Kenner,

0425229645.01.LZZZZZZZI’ve been addicted to this series since it first started four books ago. While some things have stayed the same, others, thank goodness, have changed and evolved as the series has progressed. And if there’s one thing I can count on, it’s a bang up finish with a “to be continued…” bombshell to make me frantic for the next installment.

Kate Connor, level five Demon Hunter, is once again faced with the powers of Darkness in her otherwise quiet CA beach town of San Diablo. But now her secret identity, which she struggled to hide during past books, is not so secret anymore. Her almost fifteen year old daughter knows, her best friend knows and now her second husband, Stuart, knows. Oh and her first husband, Eric, who was murdered five years ago then returned to her in the body of another man and who is now known in town only as a teacher at their daughter’s school, also knows. Yeah, it’s a lot to keep straight.

The book starts with the usual attack of a demon who utters cryptic threats against Kate and hints of the demonic showdown to come. But this time, the showdown looks like it will involve Eric and a secret he kept from Kate during their youth and marriage. It’s a secret that could cost him not only his life, but his soul as well. And the demon of the day has her sights on their daughter Allie as well.

Kate is still a suburban mom who carpools, grocery shops, tries to keep up with the destruction her toddler son wrecks on her house while arranging birthday parties. She still goes out hunting demons as night with her trusty stiletto in hand. Once again she’s faced with a demon moving in on her turf and as usual, she needs to rely on friends and family to help her discover which particular demon it is as well as the best way to eliminate said demon. I’m not sure whether to laugh or roll my eyes at the fact that some of the information is obtained via an internet RPG. I guess you gotta take the information where you can find it. And I love the fact that Fed Ex delivers something that absolutely, positively has to be there.

I cheer at the way you keep the characters and their environment from becoming stagnant. Stuart now knows about Kate’s past and all she managed to keep hidden from him in the earlier books. He’s even training along with Allie to hunt demons with Kate. Kudos to you for having him have to take some time to get used to it all. Yet, as the book progressed and more people than ever learn about demons and Kate’s job, I had to wonder that Kate doesn’t just take out an ad in the local paper and have done with any anonymity.

One thing that has bothered me in past books and which really bothered me in this one are all the secrets Kate has kept and her instinctive reaction to lie when someone is close to discovering the truth. At first, I could understand why she didn’t want her past to intrude on her present or to color the way people she loves view her. But in this book, despite her pledge to tell people the truth, she still lies. But just as it was really getting to me, you take this, turn it around and have Kate face the music for her lies as well as realize how Eric’s lies are now going to come back and bite them all in the collective ass.

A second issue that was bugging me is the relationship between Kate and Eric and how it interferes with Kate’s current marriage to Stuart. Talk about difficult and being torn between two lovers. I didn’t think that it could continue as it had for much longer and bless your heart, you used this in the current conflict as well. Up until the final moments of the story, you kept me guessing as to whether or not Eric would survive the demon throw down. Lots of points to you for that. As well, I wondered what would happen with Kate and Stuart’s marriage. Let’s just say I want the next book in my hand right now to discover the answers.

So, I’m tearing my hair out for the next installment and – am I psychic or something? I guessed the locale where you’d take the story next – am enthused to see what will happen there. B for “Demon Ex Machina.”

~Jayne

This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

8 Comments

  1. rebyj
    Oct 21, 2009 @ 04:49:20

    This series is a keeper for me. Although paranormal books are everywhere, this series has a pretty good premise and goes from funny as hell to edge of your seat tension where you’re afraid to turn the page but you gotta!
    I love Kate, she’s a frantic busy suburban mom and it’s hilarious how she has to fight demons, spend the day running around doing mom stuff, potty train, deal w/ teenager , keep the man happy, bff drama and STILL has to cook dinner. Love the review and can’t wait to get this book in my hands!

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  2. Jayne
    Oct 21, 2009 @ 06:10:20

    @rebyj: The number of paranormals I read these days is very few and very far between. But this series gets moved to the top of my “next up” reading list as soon as I get it. Thank you, Jane, for sweet talking the publisher into getting it to DA early.

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  3. Jessica Scott
    Oct 21, 2009 @ 10:24:15

    This series is absolutely on my keeper shelf. I discovered it over here in Iraq, when I was desperately missing my kids. Kate’s balancing her young children with the heavy responsibilities of her demon hunting life, plus the absolute hysterics over a bunny costume– this series rocks. Kate’s life is hectic and serious and at the same time, funny. It made me really miss being my kids moms and gave me a taste of mommy hood that I still won’t have for a few more weeks. It’s a great series and I can’t wait to see what happens.
    I don’t have time to have the newest installment shipped to me before I come home from Iraq but you can bet its on my first to purchase list as soon as I get home!

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  4. DS
    Oct 21, 2009 @ 13:11:49

    The last one was a DNF for me. I might go ahead and pick this one up. I have a friend who I can pass it to if I’m not inspired to finish it. I was really hoping something evil would happen to Stewart.

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  5. Jayne
    Oct 21, 2009 @ 13:45:24

    @Jessica Scott: You’ve got a good book waiting for you when you finally get home.

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  6. Jayne
    Oct 21, 2009 @ 13:46:43

    @DS: Now, see I’ve always loved Stuart. He’s such a decent American father/husband. Kind of Wonder Bread, maybe, but still a great guy.

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  7. Becca
    Oct 21, 2009 @ 19:54:37

    The books sound absolutely wonderful, but I’m not even going to start the series — I *hate* books that end on a “to be continued” note.

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  8. Natalie
    Jul 15, 2010 @ 13:44:46

    i love this series i just got the last book and it was awesome… sooo suspenceful. I advise everyone read it. It’s a great book. READ IT TODAY!

    ReplyReply

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