A Demon Lies Within
by Tony Hubbard
Two Harbors Press (2012)
Any time I turn on the news or read and article about some wife-beating, child-abusing jackass, I wish there was such a thing as Hell, so the miserable piece of garbage could burn for all eternity. Well, that's precisely where one such wife-beating, child-abusing jackass--with a cheating heart no less--winds up when Andrew McMurray is shot and killed by his wife. It feels like the ending to a novel, rather than a beginning, but Andrew's path of torment and hate is far from over.
After Andrew meets his demise, he meets a demon named Sonneillon once in Hell. Sonneillon recruits him as an apprentice of sorts, promising Andrew revenge against his wife and son, which Andrew readily accepts. From there, his gruesome training begins. All the while, Katelyn and her son, Joshua, pick up the pieces of their lives, with Katelyn eventually falling in love with another man and Joshua growing up and making friends. Then Andrew's return comes in the form of possession and all hell breaks loose.
Despite a strong premise with a very interesting twist on possession stories, I had a difficult time staying engaged with this book. The opening chapters are certainly built for instant shock and to establish a grim tone for the subject matter, but I found description and dialogue to be lacking more often than not. With regards to dialogue, there were times when it felt like the kind of back-and-forth you'd expect from a daytime soap, including drawn out sentences and tirades. Then there were times when the description of scenes was so sparse, I had a difficult time picturing anything at all. Plus, the ease and willfullness that Andrew accepts that he's in Hell, propositioned by a demon, and bears witness to horrendous atrocities felt incredulous.
The tension mounts later in the book, as Andrew makes his presence felt on Katelyn, Joshua, and those close to them, but I didn't have any emotional engagement with the characters by that time to really care. And for those of you with an aversion to extreme violence, you'll find out early on in the book just where your cut-off limit is, because this novel comes at you hard and fast.
A Demon Lies Within was ultimately a disappointing venture for me, but not so much that I didn't follow it through to the end. Had it lacked any redeeming qualities or disinterested me anymore, I would have discarded it within the first few chapters. If you slug it out, you may enjoy the payoff at the end, but then again ...