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“On wings of vengeance, a Saint shall rise.”

DemonBloody, gory, and relentlessly dark and disturbing, Demon is a monstrous tale of survival and vengeance unlike any you have read before.

In true Rob J. Hayes fashion, it took exactly one chapter for things to go to utter shit. And the funny thing is, that brutal start truly seems like a jolly good time when you look back on it at the end of the book. Hayes truly doesn’t hold back on the brutality in Demon, throwing all kinds of dark shit our way; enslavement, emotional and physical torture, starving, and even (forced) cannibalism. And you know what, I was here for it.

The feisty main character, Dien Hostain, immediately crept her way into my heart the moment I met her. After losing all she holds dear in the demon attack on her village, she commits to a path of defiance and vengeance that honestly brought me chills. Her resilience is truly unmatched, and I loved seeing how she held true to her plans and ideals no matter how dire the situation got.

And believe me, things get unspeakably dire. I really appreciated that Hayes didn’t pull any punches in showing the absolute cruelty and savagery that the capured villagers had to endure. Not only cruelty from the deliciously hateable and vicious demon captors, but also from some despicable fellow human prisoners who have clearly lost their moral compass (if they even had one in the first place). The raw exploration of how far different people are willing to go to survive and the exploration of how much emotional and physical trauma people can endure before they completely break was extremely well-written, and I felt so deeply for all the innocent souls that got crushed along the way.

All that said, I do have to admit that I almost started to get a bit numbed out to all the brutality at a certain point, causing supposedly heartbreaking scenes to fall a bit flat for me personally. Though at the same time, there’s no denying that the inescapable sense of darkness and despair made for a morbidly captivating reading experience, not unlike watching a trainwreck that you simply can’t pull your eyes away from.

Especially considering that this feels so much like a set-up novel with a very small-scope setting and contained plot, Demon has no business being this inexplicably compelling and unputdownable; and yet it totally is. Hayes creates an alluring air of intrigue by weaving just the most tantalising threads of hidden destinies, shocking backstories (I need to know more about Dien’s father, thank you please!!) and rich lore into the narrative, which makes both the characters and the wider world feel so realistic and wonderfully well-realised.

And with the shockingly exciting way that Demon ended, I am so eager for this world to fully blow open and explore all the new dangerous paths that all my favourite broken souls (you know, the ones that survived this first novel) will go down. What’s more, I am dying to see how the legacies and legends of these characters will continue to live on in this world as I dive into the later trilogies that make up the wider God Eater Saga; a trilogy of trilogies being released concurrently. There is simply so much potential here, and I think this epic journey has gone off to an amazingly strong start with Demon.

So, I would highly encourage you to pick up Demon and embark on this deliciously dark adventure for yourself as soon as possible, if you dare. Just make sure to be mentally prepared for Hayes’ disturbingly dark imagination (can someone please make sure he is okay and give him a hug?), and you should be in for a hell of a bloody wild ride.

This review is based on the Kickstarter edition. Demon will be up for general sale on 23 July 2024.

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Esmay Rosalyne

Esmay is a self-proclaimed professional book devourer from The Netherlands. While (dark) fantasy will always have her heart, she is also a big indie/self-pub enthusiast and will probably read anything if the premise sounds intriguing enough. Or, you know, if it promises complete emotional destruction. When not reading books, she is probably reviewing books, talking about books, or watching videos of fellow bookworms talking about books.

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