Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable
In Brief: Brief but shocking, grotesque horror, enough to send the main character into an asylum. Otherworldy demonic creatures and their master. Grubbs' family's closeness contrasted with his father's infidelity to his wife when away on business.
Series: The Demonata
Published in: 2005
Age Range: Young Teens
Setting: Conventional urban & rural Britain
- Grubbs Grady is a young teenager who has to come to terms with an horrific family curse after seeing his family murdered horribly by demonic creatures.
- Dervish Grady is Grubbs' uncle who has some magical power to combat the demons and their master who are somehow entwined with the Grady family.
- Billy is a local lad who befriends Grubbs but whose own history is tied up with the Grady family's.
Grubbs Grady sees his family horribly killed and is taken in by his father's mysterious brother who explains that the family is cursed and that he must learn to defend himself from demons and to play chess to help fight the curse. Along with Billy, a local lad, Grubbs believes that his uncle is secretly a werewolf but things turn out differently and Grubbs finds himself battling a demon master and his demon servants.
I won't keep you long: if you have any reservations about demons, black magic, grotesque and horrific deaths or werewolfs then walk away from this book. If, however, you're not that bothered about lightweight horror-fodder aimed at young teenage boys then read on...
While the story's definitely not for the squeamish, the “demons” are just stock-uglies from a parallel dimension, and their master a grotesque enemy with a suave manner and penchant for playing chess. There is a black-magic-style ritual carried out by Dervish to summon Lord Lost, the demon master, but there's no suggestion that the “demons” are at all connected to any religious structure whatsoever. The subject of souls does come up as they are the trophy collected by Lord Loss if he wins a chess match. This soul is the animating force behind a human, but without it the body continues to function but without any obvious personality.
The author's certainly out to shock: by the end of the third chapter, Grubbs' loving father, mother and older sister have been slaughtered, his house destroyed and Grubbs himself committed to a lunatic asylum. He's rescued from this place after an unexplained period by Uncle Dervish, who explains the details of the family curse, but also fairly casually points out that Grubbs' father habitually slept around when away on business and that another character is in fact Grubb's half-brother.
Dervish's friend Meera is knowlingly provocative in front of the two teenage boys, unzipping tight biking leathers to reveal T-shirt and shorts and later spilling milk down her front. Dervish himself describes them as “not an item” and jokes about “pulling” one of the barmaids in the village pub.
The author succeeds in the book's obvious intent: to be an undemanding shockfest for young teenagers, with a few mildly objectionable aspects on top.
“He told Lord Loss he wouldn't play unless the demon master lifted the curse of the Garadexes.”
“No bite. Chess was an obsesion, but it wasn't that precious to him. So old Bart tried another approach. He proposed a series of contests in which he'd play for the lives of individual family members. After lengthy discussion, they agreed to stage a number of matches, best of five games per match. For each match that Bartholomew won, Lord Loss would cure a Garadex. But if Bartholomew ever lost, Lord Loss would take possession of his soul.”
Monday 5th March 2007