From the back of the book:
The Demonologist marks a major departure for critically acclaimed author Andrew Pyper as he takes the reader into a terrifying new literary direction of unimaginable horror.
Professor David Ullman is a world-renowned expert in the literature of the demonic, notably Milton’s Paradise Lost. But David is a scholar, not a believer, until he witnesses a malevolent act so shocking it forces him to reexamine everything he has thought to be real.
On a consulting trip to Venice to observe a mysterious phenomenon, he finds his world – and his heart – ripped apart when a door is opened that allows a demonic spirit to take his young daughter hostage.
Now David is pushed headlong into a desperate journey of discovery, forcing him to confront the boundaries between human good and inhuman evil. Guided by arcane symbols and riddles from the pages of Paradise Lost, he enters the underworld of shadows that exists everywhere around us in a quest to rescue his daughter from the Unnamed – a demonic entity that has chosen him as its unlikely messenger. It is an impossible task undertaken in the name of lover – a task that, if he fails, will mean David’s daughter will be claimed by darkness for eternity…
This book reminds me of Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian in the fact that the main character is a scholar whose main speciality is the evil that they are now being confronted with. That is where I am going to end the comparison because while I did enjoy this book, it didn’t affect me nearly as much as The Historian had when I first read it.
This book had a lot of things going for it. For one, I liked how Pyper was able to bring settings to life. It actually kind of makes me want to visit Venice, minus the whole demon bit… and there was a scene in a farmhouse where there was a murder-suicide had amazing atmosphere. Plus, there were parts of it that took place in a cottage in Muskoka (which, when happening in books, always makes me think of L.M.M.’s The Blue Castle, so creates a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart). I like that this book takes the reader to so many different places.
I also really like how there was danger from opposite factions on Ullman’s quest to find his daughter – from the demons who wanted to keep Tessa (and who wanted to Ullman to tell the world about how demons are real), and from those who want to keep what happened to Tessa (and the fact that demons are real) secret. Both dangers could have harmed Ullman, and most of the book we saw him trying to keep ahead of one or the other. In that way, there weren’t really any moments of rest for the characters, and kept pushing the book forward. This wasn’t a slow read, which I definitely appreciated.
Even though I really enjoyed the buildup in this book, I will admit that I found the ending extremely anti-climatic. It felt safe, and everything wrapped up too nicely. I never doubted that things were going to end happily. I like it when my horror is slightly messier, and when the danger feels real. It is nice that I can come out of this saying that there definitely won’t be a sequel, but it feels like the stakes faced by the character never seemed high enough or real enough.
Aside from that slight disappointment with the ending, however, I did enjoy this book, and will be looking forward to reading more from the author.
The Bottom Line
This was an entertaining read, and I’ll be recommending it to others who like supernatural horror stories.