REVIEW: Secrets of the Demon

Diana Rowland
Secrets of the Demon (Kara Gillian #3)
ISBN-10: 0756406528
ISBN-13: 978-0756406523
Urban fantasy
January 4, 2011

Blurb via the author’s site:

Homicide detective Kara Gillian has a special talent: she can sense the “arcane” in our world, and there’s quite a bit of it, even in Beaulac, Louisiana. She’s also a summoner of demons, and works on a task force that deals with supernatural crimes. Her partners are attractive and smart FBI agents, but they’re not summoners, and they’re not telling Kara why they are on this special force with her.

To make things worse, Kara has pledged herself to one of the most powerful of demons-a Demon Lord-who helped save her partner’s life, but now expects things in return. Meanwhile, she’s trying to solve a string of murders that are somehow tied together by money, sex, rock music and…mud. But how can she concentrate on the case when she’s not even sure who-or what-her partners are?

*Ever so slight spoilers for previous books.

Oh, hello, awesome book! You’re my first spectacular read of 2011. Welcome, welcome, welcome. It’s one of the most wonderful things about reading, when a book we’ve been highly anticipating more than meets expectations. Secrets of the Demon is book three in this series, and I couldn’t love any more how the mysteries are shaping up. DAW, thanks SO MUCH for picking Ms. Rowland’s series up and continuing it so that readers like me would be able to continue basking in all its spectacular-ness. And giving it sparkly new covers by dos Santos. And just treating a great author so damn well. Because when you’re treating her well, us readers are reaping the rewards. Let’s keep this series coming for while.

Look, when you have a heroine that is now the personal summoner to a powerful demon lord, and she smacks said demon lord in the face with a pillow, you’ve just experienced book magic. Hi-larious-ness, folks. Pure, demon couch snuggling fun going on in this book and it only makes me want more. Preferably now. Word is we may not have to wait another whole year for book two and at this point all I can say is thank the demon lord! Because I love this series.

If you’d like to catch up on what the series is all about, feel free to peruse my reviews for book 1 and 2 first.

Now where was I? Oh, yes. Demon lords getting pillow-face-smacked. There’s also some grrrreat demon lord sex. And some grrrrreat demon lord ambiguity. I love Rhyzkahl. See, he’s the powerful demon lord that Kara is now the personal demon summoner for. She has a contract of sorts to call him to the human world from his realm for so many times, and she gets to ask him two questions each time. Sounds like a rather unfair reward, but it is the arrangement they have, and trust me, the demon lord smex makes up for a lot. Yep, it’s that good. Plus, Kara’s learning from him and other demons when she can, so as to make her arcane powers greater and more useful. So there is a beneficial arrangement going on for her. Some of the time.

Demon lord smex isn’t what this series is all about. Far from it, actually. Rhyzkahl is only part of the ever widening equation, albeit an important one. In this installment, Kara continues to balance her life as a cop and now a special task force member (think X-Files meets, well, the X-Files with sure-enough, no-doubt-about-it-at-all demon paranormal activity). Completing a love triangle of sorts is another task force member named Ryan. Along with their other partner, Zack, they set out to investigate some strange doings revolving around a popular up-and-coming rock band. Something is after the band, and it’s nothing like Kara’s ever encountered before. This is our third installment’s central book plot, and we’ve got the continually evolving mysteries surrounding Rhyzkahl and Ryan to carry us through a thoroughly exciting series arc. YES. kid you not. It’s exciting.

The thing I love most about this series is how Rowland’s been doling out the goods. The goods being tidbits of information about demons, Kara’s powers, who and what so and so is. That kind of thing. I imagine this has got to be pretty tough when writing. I think I’d have a tendency to want to spill ALL the goods in one paragraph, you know? Rowland excels, though, at giving us just what we need, as well as enough of it, to be intrigued for the next book, but not so badly that we’re pulling our hair out. Rowland knows we need our hair. Thank you, Rowland, for letting me keep my hair. Seriously, I think this is a very important skill for an author to possess, and sadly some just don’t give out very good tidbits, none at all or even manage to wrap things up satisfactorily. Coughfeverahemhack. Skills, people! Writing skills. Readers need them in our books.

So we’ve established that Rhyzkahl is hawt and mysterious; Rowland has mad skillz and now we should cover how Rowland used her skillz to show us even more tastiness for Ryan as well. When the series first began I had no clue that FBI dude would be anything more than an increasingly curious human when it came to the demon and arcane worlds. Oh, lurvlets, I has glee. I has glee for the developments with him. I can’t say much of anything about it, only that he adds another tasty layer of What The Hell Is Going On Around Here layered party dip. Plus, he is as adorable as ever. The sexual and romantic tension between him and Kara makes for an interesting love triangle, and normally those just aren’t my bag. The nature of what exactly Ryan is, added with the obvious hatred between him and Rhyzkahl, also ratchets up the I Must Know More. Now.

The worldbuilding is an element that is slowly being revealed as well. It takes place on earth for the most part, with us really only getting snippets of the demon realm should Kara chance to have a dream set there. What I’m really hoping is that we get to actually see the demon realm in subsequent books. There’s a moment in this book , where Rhyzkahl makes an offhand offer to Kara, which she accepts without much thought. I’s one of those moments I keep thinking back on because I want to think that it shows Rhyzkahl does care for Kara on an emotional level. What that has to do with the worldbuilding is that, since these are demons we’re talking about, can we really ascribe human emotion and motivations to them? Wanting to believe a demonic lord could care that much about Kara would definitely be ascribing human emotions and motivations to Rhyzkahl, when I also believe he likely has an agenda that is far more important to him. However, there are things he’s done, both in this book and in the others that say he cares for her on some level. Whether that’s on any kind of satisfyingly emotional level or not remains to be seen. I will say there are times when he makes it darn hard not to want this for Kara. She’s naive, lonely and Rhyzkahl seems to accept her in ways she’s been needing her whole life (growing up with these powers has made for a pretty stark life friend and romance-wise). Whereas Ryan at first spurned her and was angry at her association with a demonic lord. Both relationships are beyond complicated. To say the least.

While the main plot of what’s going on with the attacks on the band wasn’t my most favorite central book plot yet in this series, I did think it made for an adequate enough counter-problem for Kara to deal with on top of everything else she’s currently balancing in her life. She has a great relationship with her boss, and this time she’s able to loosen the reins around the secret of her abilities a little. I was glad to see that she could do this a little with each book, because it wouldn’t make much sense for her abilities to remain a tightly guarded secret forever. There’s just too much of the X-Files variety crime going on in her little town, and I’m glad that the general populace isn’t completely ignorant of it, even as Kara struggles to keep it mostly under wraps, and making everything seem as if it’s an entirely “normal” garden variety crime happening. Obviously she’ll need some folks that are close to her, ones she can trust, to be in on all the arcane happenings in order to keep pulling it all off.

Secrets of the Demon is one of those books that pretty much completely satisfies. Even if the plot surrounding the band wasn’t my favorite, I still loved this book. I love the suspense of who and what everyone is. I love the moral ambiguity, one of the best yet not always easy to pull off elements in a good urban fantasy read. I can’t wait to find out more. Kara is flawed, fun and it’s easy to sympathize with. I loved how this book ended. Love this series! Like I said, just keep ’em coming, Daw!

Rating: Five Scoops

Series Order:

  • Mark of the Demon
  • Blood of the Demon
  • Secrets of the Demon
  • Sins of the Demon (date TBA, but possibly November 2011-ish)
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  1. I think we are Diana’s biggest fan girls. I adore this series and can’t wait to see when more is revealed about Ryan. As for Rhy… le rowl.

    Diana is Rhy’s and he won’t let her go even if she wants to.

    • LOL, you mean Kara! :D

      I agree about Rhys and second your rowl lol. And I’m A-OK with being a fangirl of the series!

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  3. Love love love these books too! I think, once again, the author’s incredibly wide range of work experience (reading her bio is kind of daunting) gives the procedural aspects of her work so much more authenticity than the average urban fantasy with law enforcement elements. So, yeah, the investigation part of this book might not be as racy fun whiz-bang as the demon lord whiz-bang (nudge nudge wink wink…) but it never feels like it isn’t all RIGHT ON in how it’s progressing.

    • Totally agree on the author’s life experience lending this series authenticity! And I’ll raise your nudge wink with a bow-chicka-bow-wow for the demon lord lol!

  4. Since I haven’t read this series yes, I am going to avoid your review of this book and go straight to your review of the first book :) One day I’ll get my UF mojo back!

    • Orannia, I hope you do get that UF mojo back! When you do, this is definitely a series to try. :)

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