6 Rated Books

Book Review: Demon Moon

Title: Demon Moon

Author: Meljean Brook

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Stand alone or series: Technically book 4 in the Guardians series, although it is the second full-length novel. It can be read as a stand alone novel (or in my case, after reading Demon Angel, the first full length novel in the series).

Why did I read this book: I read and really liked Demon Angel–plus, Meljean is awesome. I have vowed to catch up with her books by the time Demon Bound is released next month.

Summary: (from MeljeanBrook.com)
Savi Murray’s insatiable curiosity had gotten her into trouble before, but she’d always escaped unscathed. Then came Colin. In the midst of Heaven, he gave her a taste of ecstasyโ€”and of Chaos. Deadly creatures from that realm herald the return of an imprisoned nosferatu horde, and Colin and Saviโ€™s bond is their only protectionโ€”and their only passionโ€ฆ


First, I gotta lay all cards on the table: I think the world of Meljean Brook (she is freaking cool), and I really enjoyed her first novel, Demon Angel. I felt that the world building was superb and that the characters were made of awesome (especially Lilith). So, it goes without saying that I was excited to read more of the Guardians universe. Encouraged by emphatic praise from Ana and the unanimously stellar reviews across blogland, I started Demon Moon with high expectations. This is a tough review to write–I struggled with Demon Moon, alternately feeling confused and lost, and then in the next breath feeling completely immersed in the story. This second novel was a mixed bag for me…Ultimately, I liked Demon Moon, but not nearly so much as its predecessor.

Savitri Murray is a very, very smart woman. Too smart for her own good, perhaps. A technology maven and video game entrepreneur with a photographic memory, Savi has tried multiple professions (ID forger, med student, engineer, etc) and flitted from one to the next in boredom. Savi’s formidable intellectual prowess and her light-hearted, fickle nature mask her darker mettle and her past. The sole survivor of a violent attack against her immediate family, Savi was saved by Hugh Castleford (hero from Demon Angel) in the nick of time. Left with her Grandmother (Nani) as the only other person in her world, Savi becomes adopted as Hugh’s surrogate-sister, complicating both Savi’s and her Nani’s lives. During the events of Demon Angel, Savi has learned the truth of the world–of Hell, Chaos and Caelum, and how Guardians, demons, and all the other creatures in between walk the earth–and she has faced them firsthand. So, when she and Nani are flying on a commercial plane back to San Francisco after a trip to Bombay, Savi immediately recognizes the nosferatu on board. Desperate for help, Savi tries to contact Hugh and Lilith, but when she cannot reach them, she turns to the other man who can help her: Colin.

Colin Ames-Beaumont is a very old, very beautiful vampire. For centuries Colin has been a victim of his blood. Unlike other vampires, Colin cannot take a vampire partner for his blood has been tainted by the Doyen’s sword, and has anchored his blood to the realm of Chaos. Anyone who drinks from Colin is forced to experience the madness and terror of the realm–just as Colin is damned to see Chaos any time he looks in the mirror. It is because of this anchor to Chaos that in Demon Angel, both Colin and Savi were teleported to Caelum, to keep them safe (and keep Colin’s anchor secret) from the clash between Lilith, Hugh, the Guardians, and Lucifer. And, during their stay in Caelum, something has passed between the two. So when Colin, preoccupied with diverting requests for him to assume leadership responsibility for the vampiric community in San Francisco (left in shambles after the events of book 1), receives the urgent message from Savi about a nosferatu being on her plane, Colin is beside himself with worry and fear. There is something about Savi that Colin cannot resist–the memory of their time together in Caelum, her unique scent and taste, it makes Colin feel things for Savi that the self-absorbed beautiful vampire should not feel.

Savi single-handedly manages to stop the nosferatu from destroying the plane, but in the process becomes tainted by nosferatu blood and hell hound venom–something that will have serious complications in the future. Following the attack, Savi is recruited by Lilith and Hugh to work for the Special Investigations (SI) unit of the Department of Homeland Security–and both Savi and Colin find themselves thrown together even closer than before. Inexplicably drawn to each other, Colin and Savi try to maintain a friendship (*snorts*) for a relationship between the two is doomed from the start. Because of Savi’s tainted blood, transforming her to become a vampire is too risky–and because of Colin’s tainted blood the point is moot anyhow since anyone would go mad from drinking from him. And, with Savi as a human, Colin cannot monogamously drink from her forever as it will leave her weak and could kill her. Colin would then have to turn to other humans to drink from, and with drinking comes sex…and this is something that Savi will not be able to tolerate. They agree to a month together, but breaking it off as soon as the month is up.

Meanwhile, they also have their hands full as someone has been tangling with the leaderless vampires, enlisting nosferatu and loosing wyrmwolves–denizens of Chaos–on earth, with attacks geared towards both Colin and Savi.

Demon Moon, at nearly 500 pages long, is an ambitious undertaking. As with Demon Angel, Meljean’s characters are the strength of this novel. Both Savi and Colin are very different from Lilith and Hugh–while there was a certain epic flair to the Lilith and Hugh’s relationship, Savi and Colin instead have a muted, less dramatic but still very tortured relationship. Both characters are painted boldly–Savi as a young woman craving knowledge and yet intent on separating her feelings and memories as items to be classified and locked up tight, never to be seen again; and Colin who uses his vanity, charm and beautiful looks to simultaneously seduce and push everyone away. Both share the same superficial coating, the same ability to lie to themselves, the same aching loneliness; and yet deep down they both yearn for more, and recognize it in each other. This certainly read as much more of a traditional romance novel than Demon Angel did, and leaned more heavily on the attraction between these two characters than its predecessor.

While I admire the different direction taken with this novel and am awed by the emotional depth to the characters, I felt that there was something missing in terms of world building and the plot direction, and the writing style in particular. One thing that I loved about the prior novel was the intricacies of bargaining, the importance of human free will and the restrictions placed on any creatures, demon or Guardian, that would try to interfere with those decisions. In Demon Moon, these themes are perhaps inapplicable since the focus is on vampires and Chaos…and yet I was disappointed that something which seemed so vital to the earlier book was not examined in this second novel. I also loved the grand scale of the universe building from Demon Angel, with Hell, Chaos and Caelum intricately defined and the lore surrounding the creation of this world. Yet, in Demon Moon, even though we get to “see” both Caelum and Chaos, the world building feels pale in comparison to the undertakings of the first book. While the physical descriptions in this novel are beautifully written (the image of impossible staircases and tessellating circles are wonderful), these images of Caelum and Chaos feel almost detached from the overall story. In terms of continuity and plot, I also felt that Demon Moon could have been better developed. The non-romance conflict revolves around the mysterious ‘leak’ in Chaos, resulting in creatures being released from their realm to earth, and someone trying to take control of the leaderless vampires. The mystery isn’t bad at all, it’s just barely addressed and too easily resolved for my tastes. Of course, the real story here is the focus on the romance between Savi and Colin, so I suppose it is understandable that less time is devoted to the overall world and plot conflict–but again, I feel like I was spoiled by Demon Angel and wanted much more.

Perhaps the hardest thing for me to come to terms with in this novel was the writing style. This is something I had noticed toward the end of Demon Angel, and to some extent in the novella Thicker Than Blood, but to a much lesser degree. While I was riveted by the first three chapters of Demon Moon, shortly after the nosferatu attack I found myself confused and constantly having to reread passages. For 100 pages or so, I kept backtracking to check if I had skipped over a paragraph inadvertently, or to make sure that my pages weren’t accidentally stuck together. For example, shortly after the first wyrmwolf battle, Colin lifts a woozy, feverish Savi:

“They have five seconds,” he said softly.

Who? Before what? She couldn’t make the effort to form the questions. Jet lag? A strange time for it when she was flying, flying.

Colin’s arms tightened around her, and he shuddered. “Castleford. Michael.” His voice was flat. “And as usual, you’ve arrived to bloody late.”

Five seconds before what, indeed? We never find out. The next chapter jumps to Savi…somewhere else, and apparently she has been hiding out for the past weeks (months?). Pages later we learn what happened after the club, but I still can’t shake the confusion. I’m not sure if this can’t just be boiled down to stylistic preferences. Ana and I have discussed this at length, and while Ana is a fan of this sort of impressionistic style of writing, I am not. Considering that the majority of reviews I’ve read online don’t seem to have this problem, I suspect that (in the astute words of one amazon reviewer) my brain is wired differently. You know, a one person sees a vase, the other person sees two people kissing type of deal (Meljean’s recent Batman left brain v. right brain post comes to mind as well).

The other issue I had with the writing was the length of the novel, in particular the length of the dialogues between characters. Every character in the book is incredibly witty and they quip at each other for pages on end. In small doses, I loved the conversations between Savi and Colin and the verbal and mental sparring wars that would occur between these two–but after so many similar dialogues and the many lengthy character conversations, it became tedious and some of the plot points felt forced through the dialogue. As I was telling Ana, I think Demon Moon is a solid book, but with some cleaning and paring down, it could have been really good (for me, of course this is completely subjective).

And yet, for all the problems I may have had with cumbersome dialogue or stunted plot, there were those flashes of brilliance that kept me reading on–and that have kept me hungry for more in this series.

Notable Quotes/Parts: I think this section captures Savi’s character, her yearnings for immortality beautifully:

“I want to see what happens,” she said finally, and though her eyes remained dry, tears hoarsened her voice. “When I think of all you’ve seen and experienced in two centuries–and Hugh and Lilith, what they’ve seen…” Her hands fisted. “And I expect that if the demon doesn’t manage to kill us this month, the next fifty years are going to be pretty freaking amazing. People are coming up with stuff all the time, changing all the time. But I want more than that. I want a hundred, five hundred, a thousand. Ten thousand. Can you imagine? I just want to see it.” Her words slowly dropped to a whisper. “I would’ve eventually asked Lucas or Fia or someone to turn me…but then I took that flight.”

Additional Thoughts: Occasionally, a book cover comes along and completely captures the essence of a book. But then, there are those covers that leave me scratching my head and wondering “huh?” Demon Moon falls into this later category. For one thing, Savi is Indian and with close cropped Halle Berry style hair…she certainly isn’t a Caucasian woman with long flowing Lilith tresses. (Although, I should mention that Colin is fair and could be the dude on the cover here.)

Verdict: I liked Demon Moon, but far preferred Demon Angel. While I think this volume had its fair share of problems, the strong characterizations and moments of excellence sprinkled throughout the book are more than enough to keep me as a fan of the series. I will be back for more.


I should also mention that the facets of the book that I had problems with were things that Ana loved–I honestly think this comes down to different tastes. For a different perspective, here’s a link to Ana’s review: in which she gives Demon Moon a perfect 10.

Rating: 6 Good

Reading Next: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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  • Katiebabs
    October 15, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    I had the same reading experience as you did Thea, but I feel each one of Meljean’s books are like a puzzle you must take pay close attention and take your time putting all the pieces together.
    The sexual tension was out of this world in Demon Moon! That Colin is one naughty boy indeed. Most of the time I wanted Savi to kiss him just to shut him up because of the things that would come out of his mouth.
    (I had to erase my first comment because I spelled pieces wrong *blush)

  • LesleyW
    October 15, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    I really liked Demon Angel, but have had Demon Moon on my TBR pile since it was released and as a consequence haven’t yet picked up the rest of the series.

    I think part of it is a length problem. I have to squeeze in my reading time around everything else, and at 500 pages it’s finding myself a chunk of time to be able to sit and read a book that long.

  • Thea
    October 15, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Katie :p *hugs* It’s all good.

    I understand what you are saying about the book being a puzzle and meant to be taken slowly and examined closely–and Ana and I have discussed this at length. I honestly think part of it comes down to thinking patterns and personal preferences–what could be a smooth transition or conclusion for some readers (as with Ana for example) just isn’t the same for others (such as myself). Almost all of the reviews I’ve seen for this novel are overwhelmingly positive, which speaks volumes!

    I don’t mind taking my time and puzzling through a book at all–in fact I love books that force you to think closely, and savor the experience. The difference for me here with Demon Moon was that I almost felt pushed out of the story, and the confusion detracted from the overall reading experience for me.

    But that’s the cool thing about art, no? It’s very subjective.

    Lesley W–I really, really liked Demon Angel as well. And to be honest, I don’t mind meaty, long books–though of course finding the time for them is always a challenge ๐Ÿ˜‰ If the length needs to be there to tell the story, so be it. For me, had Demon Moon been a bit shorter and tighter, I would have liked it more–but this is just one opinion, of course!

  • Christine
    October 15, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    After having gotten to know your reading preferences over the months, I’m not surprised that you liked Demon Angel more than Demon Moon. But a six? Really? *pout*

    For me, the strength or focus of Demon Angel is the world building and complexity of the conflict, with Hugh and Lilith’s relationship being the base with which to deliver that. Demon Moon, however, is more central to Colin and Savi, and we learn more about the intricacies of the world around their relationship. Subsequently, I think everything from both of these two books fit together like perfect puzzle pieces. Of course, it probably helped me that I read Demon Angel and Demon Moon back to back.

    Demon Night is really fantastic. The character development is really wonderful and the plot and conflict is definitely more straightforward. I hope you read and review that novel as well. No pressure. ;p

  • Thea
    October 15, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Christine–Hey, a 6 is a solid grade from me!!! I was wavering between a 6 and a 7 because of how beautifully written Colin and Savi were and the depth to their relationship. BUT…I know Meljean can write a beautiful relationship AND also a wonderful plot complete with detailed world building and lore–and I’m gonna hold her to that ๐Ÿ™‚ I feel like now I’ve seen complex conflict (Demon Angel) and a stunningly deep relationship (Demon Moon)–so I’m holding out for the perfect combination of the two. Both you and Ana assure me that Demon Night is just the ticket.

    I have both Demon Night and Demon Bound sitting on my TBR–Demon Night is next up as soon as I finish Hunger Games!

  • Li
    October 16, 2008 at 5:04 am

    The other issue I had with the writing was the length of the novel, in particular the length of the dialogues between characters. Every character in the book is incredibly witty and they quip at each other for pages on end. In small doses, I loved the conversations between Savi and Colin and the verbal and mental sparring wars that would occur between these two–but after so many similar dialogues and the many lengthy character conversations, it became tedious and some of the plot points felt forced through the dialogue.

    Oooh, you may have hit on the reason why I still haven’t managed to read past one-third of Demon Moon. Don’t get me wrong – I do like what I’ve read so far, but I’m struggling to sit down and actually finish the book.

  • M.
    October 16, 2008 at 6:51 am

    Relief that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t quite manage to catch every nuance and reference in this book. I thought it was my own fault for reading out of chronology.

    What I loved about this book were the grandmother who gets the best line of all (at the end), how unique Colin and Savitri were as characters, how the author treats readers as intelligent beings who can handle complexity of plot and meaning (though, as described above, a reader like me might not always be quite as intelligent as she likes to think she is! *g*), and the humdinger of a conflict: in most stories with a romantic element, there is some sort of reason why hero and heroine believe that they Cannot Be Together. Sometimes these reasons are IMHO downright silly. But in this case, one or the other will die. Top that!

    What made my attention wander sometimes were the sheer number of times variations of the word ‘aroused’ (whether bloodlust or sexual)appeared. Made me start marking up a mental tally instead of paying attention to the story whenever it came up. Also questions like “But why would only one wyrmwolf at a time make it out of Chaos? Why not a whole pack, and why aren’t the Nosferatu taking advantage of those opportuntities?” Things like that.

  • little alys
    October 16, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Huh, I guess my brain is more like yours then, Thea. I also like Demon Angel a bit more due to the writing. Still love Demon Mood, but given that work takes up most of my life, sleep and food takes up the others, it was actually a bit hard for me to read, stop and do things I need to do, read again, and the pattern repeats itself.
    As KB said, Meljean’s (awesomeness) books are puzzles, it was hard to solve a puzzle learning bits of it with work days and life filtered in between.
    Your review is wonderful (yet again, I’m starting to have word envy), and you pointed out some of the great things about Meljean’s writings. Her characters are different (thank goodness) and the relationships are very well drawn.

  • Thea
    October 16, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Li–that’s about where I started having some trouble as well. The story and characters are remarkably well done, but (as I said to Katie) I kept feeling almost thrown from the story with some of the dialogue, and with some aspects of the writing. And it did result in me putting the book down for a day or so, then coming back to try again. Keep at it, though! I’m interested to see what you think when you finish ๐Ÿ™‚

    M.–*exhales in relief* I was a bit daunted in writing this review, just because everyone I ‘know’ uniformly loves it! There were one or two amazon reviews that felt similarly confused, so that gave me a little extra backbone. I do think that had I not read Demon Angel, I would have been completely lost–even having read that, I felt like I had no mindframe as to Colin’s references to Anthony and Emily, and in particular with some of those intro snippet quotes to introduce chapters. Certainly having read the two novellas as well would have probably been very helpful in alleviating some of the confusion…but I do think there was a disconnect in the writing style and my brain, that didn’t have to do with the overall continuity.

    What I loved about this book were the grandmother who gets the best line of all (at the end), how unique Colin and Savitri were as characters, how the author treats readers as intelligent beings who can handle complexity of plot and meaning (though, as described above, a reader like me might not always be quite as intelligent as she likes to think she is! *g*), and the humdinger of a conflict: in most stories with a romantic element, there is some sort of reason why hero and heroine believe that they Cannot Be Together. Sometimes these reasons are IMHO downright silly. But in this case, one or the other will die. Top that!

    Word! I also loved how heartbreaking Colin’s apparent vanity is, his pleas to have someone remember him, to have Savi LOOK at him. It’s very touching, and so well done. And YES finally a ‘separation conflict’ between two mains that isn’t ridiculously silly. I completely agree! Although, I wasn’t a big fan of the “1 month of bliss” storyline–and of course the knowing Savi and Colin are going to be together at the end was very pat.

    As for the ‘aroused’ tally, lol! I didn’t really notice! Although there was a sinful amount of sexual tension (something like 300 pages?!)–I wanted them to get over themselves and do it already *devil* :p

    I understand where you are coming from with some of the plot questions–the wyrmwolves didn’t really seem too effective, did they? Even when facing more than one of them, Colin is never in danger, and even Savi can take some down. The nosferatu seemed like they should have been doing more, been a larger part of the story–and much bigger badasses than they were (especially considering Lilith, huntress demoness extraordinaire, even had a hard time killing them and was afraid of more than one of them in DA).

  • Katiebabs
    October 16, 2008 at 8:37 am

    And when Colin and Savi did the deed, major OMG’s all around.
    I have to say I first saw Colin as very selfish and an huge ego where I wanted to knock him down a peg or two. But when Savi comes into his world, that all changes. The scene between them in bed near the end, where Savi decides to drink from Colin, really touched me. it showed how far Colin has grown from, shall we say from spoiled little boy to a mature man finally after a century.

  • Jessica
    October 17, 2008 at 8:51 am

    What a great review!

    I loved Demon Moon. It’s the first Brook I read. But I was deeply confused for most of the book, and remained so even after reading Demon Angel. However, the romance angle was so strong I overlooked the worldbuilding and plot issues. I’ve also read Demon Night and I feel that Brook’s books have become more conventional as they go (not a bad thing necessarily).

    I agree with you that information is not given when it needs to be, and sometimes not at all. It’s weird to have characters figuring things out (like the effects of the wyrmwolf blood on Savi) before we readers are told.

    Not to get get too OT, but one question I always had about DM was where the scene is in DA when Savi and Colin are together in Caelum and he shows her Chaos. It is foundational to their relationship. I read and own both of those books and I swear I cannot find it. Can anyone help?

  • Christine
    October 17, 2008 at 9:04 am

    Jessica, the scene you are referring to starts on the bottom of p. 392 and goes to p. 394 in Demon Angel, but you don’t learn exactly what happened between them until significantly after the fact in Demon Moon, on page ….. brb.

  • Christine
    October 17, 2008 at 9:17 am

    Got it. Chapter 13 in Demon Moon. The specifics are typed in italics pp. 213 -223. I recall suspecting what had happened between them up until that point and yet, when I finally read the details on those pages, my heart was pounding and I felt so sad for both of them.

  • Thea
    October 17, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Katie–I completely agree with you about Colin, and I think to an extent this applies to Savi too. Both characters come off early as shallow, driven by their own desires without heed of the consequences. BUT they are soooo not. I loved the detail that Meljean takes in unravelling these characters, and to borrow a phrase from Ana (and Shrek), they really are like peeling onions.

    Jessica–thanks! I’m relieved to hear that I’m not the only one who was a bit confused with this book. I wholeheartedly agree that the romance was so well written that it is enough to really make this novel, though.

    Christine–Damn girl. You’re good!

    I can recall the scene in Caelum (I don’t have the book with me right now), and it is deinitely very moving..although I think I was confused at this part too–is this where Savi is swimming in the fountain? I’ll take a look when I get home ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Katiebabs
    October 17, 2008 at 11:12 am

    You never know Thea, Colin may pop up and say hi and answer some questions ;D

  • Jessica
    October 17, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Christine, you’re a lifesaver! THANK YOU!

  • Ciara
    October 17, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    I also liked Demon Angel best. It asked the big questions about free will more than DM did, which I find stimulating. That said, I loved Demon Moon as well. Her characters are so 3D. Colin’s voice is sparklingly clear. I only wish I could write dialog like that !

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