Monday, October 22, 2012

Demonworld by Kyle B. Stiff

Demonworld by Kyle B. Stiff is a highly imagined Lovecraftian tale that combines science fiction, fantasy, and horror in a way I've never seen. It's dark and dystopian, but with elements of humanity that hint at a hopeful future in the books to come.

The world is dominated by monsters called “flesh demons." Most human tribes appease the flesh demon “gods” by offering them human sacrifices. But a small hope for humanity exists in a technologically advanced city called Haven. It has survived and thrived by staying isolated on a small, bleak island in the middle of a vast ocean, hidden for hundreds of years from the flesh demons and aggressive human city-states.

Wodan, a gifted teenage boy from Haven, finds himself mysteriously exiled from his home for no reason he can comprehend. Wodan has to battle flesh demons, their twisted minions, and humans just as warped and evil as the demons, to return home to Haven and discover who kidnapped him and dropped him into the middle of the wasteland.

Demonworld was a book of extremes for me.

Many times I was floored by beautiful prose or a brilliant plot twist. The story and setting were intriguing and kept me turning the pages. I was also impressed with the editing, since I didn't find one typo or grammar mistake.

But the next moment, I was jarred out of the fantasy world by 21st century American slang uttered by supposedly primitive tribesmen (I saw “ding-bat,” “nit-wit,” and “weirdo;” one primitive referred to his biceps as “cannons”). The events in the book were far removed from our own time, so I would liked to have seen dialogue with slang and speech patterns that evolved from this strange world, not our present day.

Another issue I had was character “monologue-ing.” A villain went on for pages on how slavery was the natural state of humanity. Later, a good guy went on for pages on why humans had the potential to be more powerful than they imagined. These speeches were interesting in a philosophical sense, but they brought the action to a hard stop. I tended to skip most of them. I think their content would've been more dramatic if presented as an argument between two characters.

It was Demonworld's setting and mysteries that saved the book for me and set up a solid foundation for the projected nine additional books. As long as the author works through these craft issues in future installments, I think the Demonworld saga will be a highly entertaining series.

Demonworld is available on Amazon.

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