The Demonata Series Review, Darren Shan
Darren Shan is the author that takes up the most space on my bookshelf. Nearly half a metre of it. The majority of this is the Demonata Series, one of Shan’s main two (the other being the saga of Darren Shan) series. My greatest problem in this review will be how to impart in full the joy of these books. This series is probably in my top three series. I absolutely love it.
Okay, so how does one go about describing the plot of a ten book series? Well, I’ll have a go.
1. Lord Loss: Average guy Grubbs Grady goes to love with mad old Uncle Dervish. He runs into some strange goings on when his half-brother Bill-E becomes a werewolf. Yup.
2. Demon Thief: Kernel Fleck (another every-guy) has always seen lights. When his younger brother Art is stolen away from him, the lights may be the key to finding him.
3. Slawter: Grubbs, Bill-E and Dervish are taking a family holiday. Destination Slawter, a horror movie studio where the demons are slightly too real..
4. Bec: A long, long time ago, young Bec is led off on an adventure (of sorts) to prevent the demon invasion of her world, and her home.
5. Blood Beast: The werewolf is back. This time though, it’s not Bill-E that is struggling with his inner beast. It’s Grubbs himself – can be control his thirst?
6. Demon Apocalypse: Grubbs, having been saved by Beranabus and Kernel Fleck, is drawn into their horror filled world. When a tunnel opens, it’s all a bit close to home.
7. Death’s Shadow: In DS, we follow the Beranabus, Kernel and Grubbs in the search for the Kah-Gash, the ancient weapon capable of destroying the Demonata Universe.
8. Wolf Island: In Wolf Island, Grubbs and a Hit Squad of disciples are trapped on an island of werewolves. Only Grubbs can control them; but what will it cost him?
9. Dark Calling: Arriving at a ship, our heroes showdown against the Shadow. Kernel is taken away to the Ark, being told that he can save the universe. Grubbs, is not happy.
10. Hell’s Heroes: The final battle. This is the final showdown. I don’t want to disclose any details. Read it.
And there you have it.
We have three main protagonists in this series: Grubbs, Kernel and Bec. In the first few books, their stories are very separate, and books are dedicated to each character in turn. This introduces us to each of the characters, but does not advance their plot line more than the others’. The books individually are brilliant, but as a series they are astounding. The plot flows brilliantly between the books, and it really feels like one big book that has been split. Each book has a brilliantly unique plot, they are not similar in any way but for the writing style. Things really start to kick off in Demon Apocalypse (Bk 6), when the characters really start coming together to work the plot. This effectively splits the series in half; the first half introducing us, giving us information on the universe(s) that Shan has built for us. The second half is the real shebang.
The plot really does dance along a knife edge. The way Shan writes almost makes it seem that he has no real interest in the forces of good winning out, it’s just that their story is more interesting to follow than the bad guys. At no point in the series is it clear who’s going to win out. The plot turns from success to devoid failure. The characters always pull through, maybe missing a few limbs or so.
The ending to the series is perfect in my opinion. I’ll try not to spoil it; but here’s what I think. It’s all a bit much for the heroes to manage to sort it all out and saunter off into the sunset. There’s got to be a price to pay, and they aren’t going to live happily ever after. By the end, Grubbs is a monster, Kernel doesn’t really care anymore, and Bec is suffering from a personality crash. These guys really are Hell’s Heroes. They know the score, and they’ll settle it no matter what the cost
The plot of these books is absolutely brilliant. It dances along an absolute knife edge. Some characters plummet, and some remain, cut and sliced. Read it.
Both of Shan’s series are written in the first person. The Demonata series has multiple personalities whom we follow, so the Point of View swaps around. It’s strictly one character per book though, it doesn’t change by chapter like it does in some books. That I’m not too keen on, it makes if hard to follow (Cliff McNish [*1] is one such author). The first person style gives characters a real depth of personality – especially over ten novels. I really enjoy reading novels in the first person; but they aren’t all that common. Many authors are uncomfortable writing this way, as it is a deeply skilful thing (S. King writes well this way, as mentioned in my 11/22/63 review) to be able to do. It’s quite difficult to ascertain whether (or when) a character is going to be killed off in these books. I found myself relating well to most of the characters after the first few books, and it always seemed to come of a shock when they kicked it (*2). The first person mode gives us a straight link to the character’s thoughts; and let me tell you, my lords and ladies, these guys aren’t your off the cob fellows. They are deep and unique. They think in different ways, and it must be a real struggle for Shan to write in these different styles as opposed to the thoughts of each character. By the Eastern edge of the series, these guys seem to be developing personality complexes, which is fairly intense. In fact, these books might be a psychological field day.
My favourite character? It’s gotta be Grubbs. Shan never let’s him grow too big for his boots, so we can always relate back to him when the other guys shoot off the rails. Grubbs is the rock around which the series runs. He is, of course, the power of the Kah-Gash.
I’d like to dedicate a small paragraph to Shan’s writing style. I don’t normally do this, but I think it is very worthy of merit. I like the books I read to be varied in style. Shan’s writing is nothing like Tolkien, but it’s nowhere near as lighthearted as Angie Sage. I’m trying to think of an author who is similar to Shan, but I really can’t put my finger on it. Shan deals with these books; which are, incidentally, very gory (I don’t know how I’ve forgotten to mention this, but if you are of squeamish disposition.. Still read them, just be ready to dash) very well. They suit him, I think. I can imagine him chuckling to himself and letting his characters free under the ink of his pen, as it frantically tries to keep up.
The Demonata is my third favourite series, I think. It comes behind LOTR and Harry Potter, which are just pure style. Shan’s work is a bit too modern to hit the same vein as them, and it’s a bit lighter too. If you’re looking for a good chunky series to work your way through, this series is a great choice. The best, perhaps. Christmas is coming, why not treat yourself to the first few? Trust me, when you start reading these you will not want to stop. The noble deeds and sacrifices of the characters will have you burning through pages.
This series gets a 9/10 from me. It’s one of my favourite series ever. There are no ‘bad eggs’ in this series as there are in the Sep Heap series.. *cough*Syren*cough*. Make no hesitation in buying these books, in no way is it a mistake. Go for it!
(*1) – McSoandso names always remind me of my Biology secondary school teacher, Mr McKie: “McKie, big ‘M’, little ‘c’, occasionally floating!” Relating to how some people write the small ‘c’ in Mc names above a small line. Hahaha.
(*2) – When Beranabus died, for example.