I don’t get the fantasy subgenre of paranormal/supernatural fiction’s obsession with vampires and werewolves. It’s always been around, but has exploded in recent years and now commands whole sections of bookstores. Then, I guess, there are people who don’t get people like me who like epic fantasy like Tolkien, Lewis or Terry Brooks. Nonetheless.
So here comes Bruce Hennigan’s The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon, which is a pleasant departure from high school age vampires who are all starting to look and act a lot alike. Hennigan’s infusion of demons and their sinister evil with the vampire theme actually moves this book closer to horror and a not-so-cute version of Twilight. It also has some tinges of supernatural fantasy, giving it a wide appeal in the hybrid world of fantasy-paranormal-supernatural fiction. It is also fast paced, I read it in an afternoon (less, actually). I have lost patience with books that read like one is moving through tar.
This is the second book in the series chronicling Johnathan Steel’s battle with the world’s 13 worst demons. As in any good sequel, Hennigan has upped the ante and topped his last outing. There’s a lot in here: Action, secret cults, religion, history, science. But what makes it more unsettling at times than the horror books that rely on gore and shock, is the depiction of evil lurking among the shadows. Like Poe, Lovecraft and Hitchcock, this is far more effective.* People find it weighs on their minds far longer than a fake, contrived blood and guts scene in a movie.
Perhaps, I suppose, some part of their mind, whether they realize it or not, recognizes evil exists.
* Not that those writers never used violence, just not at the level in what passes as “horror” today. And when combined with what I’m talking about here, watch out (Poe fans may want to check out the recent movie inspired by his works, The Raven).