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-
Book 1 (Carpe Demon) free at B&N.
@Geert: Oh, excellent! What a great incentive to give this series a try.
@Geert: Thanks, Geert and Jayne. This series hasn’t been on my radar but I just downloaded and read the first few pages of Carpe Demon and am hooked. This is coming from a totally different angle than I’ve run into in the UF, demon-hunting genre. I like that the heroine is married with children and that her demon hunting is supposedly behind her. Looking forward to enjoying something new!
Has it really been that long since the last book? Where the heck does time go? :D
@txvoodoo: I know! When I checked on the date of the last full length book in the series, I was astonished.
Just the name of this one grabbed me instantly but the soccer-mom-hunts-demons premise plus your review seals the deal for me. Thanks for the heads up on sale – I’m seeing a sleepless night or two in my future :)
How addictive is this series? And how stand alone? Does the first book have a satisfactory ending?
@Alexandra: The titles for this series are fantastic. Someone has been inspired while coming up with them.
@cleo: It’s very addictive. I’ve been happily reading it since she started, was sad when it seemingly got cancelled and eager to pick it back up when I heard Kenner got the rights back and was going to continue it.
As to the ending – Kate vanquishes the demons of that book and saves her town and family. The emphasis of the series is more on keeping the demons at bay and less romance – though Kate does have a loving husband, if that’s what you’re asking. Kate’s personal life does play a large role but it’s more how she juggles her roles as wife, mother and demon hunter. Think of contemporary books about how women are trying to do it all but sub “demon hunter” for a normal job.
@Jayne: Thanks Janine. I just bought Carpe Demon (it’s free and it sounds good, so that was an easy decision) – I guess my question is, do I wait to read it until I have time to commit to reading several books to get a happy ending? Or is there a satisfactory ending at the end of the first book?
@cleo: That was Jayne, not me.
Hey Jayne! Thanks so much for reviewing PAX — and also for waiting patiently (mostly!!) for it to release! After the growing pains of getting into a groove, I can safely say that future books will be coming on a more regular basis. I love writing Kate and am thrilled that indie has provided the method to continue to get these stories to readers!