Title: Confronting the Demon
Author: Ciara Ballintyne
Genre(s): Adult Fantasy
How To Purchase: Ciara Ballintyne’s Website
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The gates to hell are thrown wide when Alloran is betrayed by his best friend, Ladanyon, and framed for forbidden magic. He is hunted by the guards and the wizards both, tormented by the gruesome murder of his friends and loved ones, and crippled by fear for the living. Now Alloran must face his demons, or damn the woman he loves.
Confronting the Demon is an impressive debut fantasy novella that feels as though it’s part of a larger body of work. It was short but action-packed, and the short story “A Magical Melody” included at the end was a fun bonus. And this from a cynical grump who doesn’t usually like bonus material.
I loved the thoroughness of the world building. The summoned demons, the opulent citadel, and the fleshed out sorcery hinted at more going on beyond the pages of the story. I enjoyed the twists and turns of Alloran and Gisayne’s relationship with one another and the antagonist Ladanyon. So much was skittering under the surface that it made the character interactions real.
The descriptions of demons were fascinating, but you would expect that from someone who has a Pinterest page called Demons and Darkness. The demons in this book come from different levels of hell, each one increasing in power as the numbers decrease. The hellcats from the seventh level of hell are the weakest–but their claws still sting like needles. And the first-level demon fought in the climax, with tentacles tearing apart the city, made me want to scream, “RELEASE THE KRAKEN.”
It doesn’t take much for me to yell that, though. If I had a catch phrase, that might be it.
One of the best complaints an author can receive is that their work is too short, and this is one of the few drawbacks I can muster about this book. It feels like an extended short story, so it lacks sub-plots that one would normally expect in a full novel. (I don’t read a lot of novellas, but I assume this is usual.) I wanted to meet Alloran, Ladanyon, and Gisayne’s peers, pull back the curtain into their lives, and delve into their back stories.
Confronting the Demon is a quick, engrossing read, and I recommend fantasy fans to both buy it and keep an eye on Ms. Ballintyne. I can’t wait to see what else she has in store. I liked this novella so much I asked her to write a post for Magic & Mayhem, so go check out her review of The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett from Friday.