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Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole

October 1, 2010

From New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole comes this scorching tale of a demon outcast poisoned with vampire blood and the vulnerable young witch he vows to protect—even from himself.

A DANGEROUS DEMON SHE CAN’T RESIST . . .Malkom Slaine: tormented by his sordid past and racked by vampiric hungers, he’s pushed to the brink by the green-eyed beauty under his guard.

A MADDENING WITCH HE ACHES TO CLAIM . . .Carrow Graie: hiding her own sorrows, she lives only for the next party or prank. Until she meets a tortured warrior worth saving.

TRAPPED TOGETHER IN A SAVAGE PRISON . . .In order for Malkom and Carrow to survive, he must unleash both the demon and vampire inside him. When Malkom becomes the nightmare his own people feared, will he lose the woman he craves body and soul?

It took me a relatively long time to pick up this book, but I claim this blog as the reason for my tardiness. Most everyone probably knows by now that I love Kresley Cole. I think I’ve mentioned it once or a million times. So this week, after the disaster that was Dead Beautiful, I was aching to get to Demon from the Dark. I stared longingly at it from across rooms. I caressed its spine with loving anticipation. Um…before I embarrass you any further, I think I’ll get started with my review.

For those of you familiar with the Immortals After Dark Series, you’ll recognize this book’s heroine. She’s none other than the best friend of Mariketa the Awaited (from Dark Desires After Dusk). Carrow is a witch, just like Mari. She’s also a wild child, known for her partying ways and her lack of inhibitions. At the beginning of the novel, Carrow has been kidnapped and, along with several other members of the Lore (Cole’s fictional world of fantastic creatures), is being held in a facility on an island. The group responsible (called The Order) has been studying–and torturing–the creatures of the Lore so they can be eliminated. Carrow’s–and everyone elses’–powers have been nullified by a torque around the neck. For Carrow, it wouldn’t matter anyway. Her power is fueled by happiness and revelry–which are both lacking in the facility where she’s found herself.

Carrow quickly discovers why she has been kidnapped. It’s not for her powers–which are impressive–but in order to attract and help capture a rare creature in the Lore: a vemon, aka, a vampire demon. A vemon is a powerful creature, having the powers of both mystical beings, and The Order wants to the chance to study one. The vemon in question is Malkom Slaine–former slave, turned general and now boogeyman of the land of Oblivion.

Malkom is the ultimate tortured hero. He’s suffered numerous betrayals–all on top of a horrendous childhood as a blood slave. When Carrow first meets him, he’s pretty much all caveman. He’s filthy, savage and doesn’t speak a lick of English. What he does do is recognize that Carrow is both his mate and his Bride. Recognizing this, he attempts to claim her, which doesn’t exactly go down well with Carrow.

Demon from the Dark is both interesting and, ultimately, frustrating in that, for a great deal of the novel, Carrow and Malkom cannot communicate. Malkom once knew English (though he calls it Anglish), but it was the language of vampires that tortured him. He has forced himself to forget whatever he knew. Carrow’s demonish is limited to a few raunchy phrases taught to her by some jokester demons. The two have to communicate with each other through mimes and pictures drawn in the sand. I didn’t mind this at first. But after a while, it really bothered me that they  were so physically intimate any yet they couldn’t even have a conversation.

The lack of ability to communicate with each other means that the alternating POVs involve a lot of internal dialogue. We know what Carrow’s thinking. We know what Malkom’s thinking. But neither knows what the other is thinking. This isn’t uncommon–I’d say it’s the opposite, really–in male/female relationships. In fact, it’s one of the things I love best about first-person narrative. It places you entirely in one character’s head–everything is skewed by their perspective. But in Demon from the Dark, knowing so much about what each character was thinking was only frustrating. Part of this was clearly intentional–it must be frustrating to basically live with someone who doesn’t speak your language–but it wasn’t the delicious kind of frustration I usually feel in first-person narrative. Do you know what I mean? That feeling when the heroine is trying to parse out the hero and you know that he loves her (because it’s a romance novel, after all) but the heroine doesn’t know that and you could squee because the tension is so fainting-couch-good? …Or maybe you don’t.

My other problem with this novel was that Malkom was a little too uncomfortably alpha for me. Don’t get me wrong–I like alpha heroes. I especially like Kresley Cole’s alpha heroes. But Malkom crosses the line from alpha to caveman. Again, this is partly intentional. Malkom’s supposed to be uncouth. He’s avoided women all his life–he’s never even slept with one. It makes sense that he doesn’t quite know what to do with Carrow once he has her. But the way that he comes onto her when they first meet–it made me uncomfortable. Malkom’s demon-slash-vampire nature  makes him twice as susceptible to the out-of-control reaction a male has to his mate. But as far as I’m concerned, he crosses the line.

Because of Carrow and Malkom’s first meeting, I was never able to warm up to him. I was never able to feel that his awful childhood and the torture and betrayals justified the way he treats Carrow. Yes, she betrays him. But she also clearly has reasons. Even when Malkom learns her reasons, he’s still a jerk. In the end, I didn’t really want them to be together. I think Carrow deserved better.

What did I like about this novel? I liked catching up with Mari and Bowen. I am totally intrigued by what Lothaire is up to. And Nix. I also really liked Carrow. I didn’t expect to. I tend to prefer a more reserved heroine–but I really liked her relationship with Ruby. And I liked Ruby–and not just because we share a totally awesome name.

All in all, however, I wasn’t terribly impressed with this book. That didn’t stop me from devouring it. Cole is a terrific writer. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. I’m dying to read Nix’s book. But that’s all this book really meant for me–a bridge to the next books in the series. Something to tide me over until better creatures from the Lore come along.

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