Monday, November 24, 2014

Average, Ordinary Teen Fantasy Needs Something More to Stand Out From the Crowd

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Dealing with demon possession is all in a day's work for the Della Torre Family.  For centuries, they've been walking the streets of Milan, "catching" the city's darkest citizens.  It's a lonely, but important profession, one that's as crucial as it is secretive.    

Mia Dellatorri, a 16-year-old living in upstate New York, knows nothing of her father's history.  He doesn't talk about his family, doesn't discuss Italy, and has certainly never mentioned demons.  Which means she's shocked and utterly unprepared when a particularly nasty one decides to invade her body.  After an exorcism she barely remembers, involving cousins she never knew existed, Mia is shipped off to Italy for her own safety.  Trapped inside an apartment with only her cousins and her history books to keep her company, Mia is restless and scared.  She doesn't want to hide from demons, she wants to hunt them, just like her relatives do.  Can she convince her relations to stop babying her and start training her?  She knows her demon will strike again.  Whether her relations like it or not, this time, she will fight him head-on.  Or die trying.

Okay, I admit it:  I made the plot of The Demon Catchers of Milan—a debut urban fantasy by Kat Beyer—sound a little more exciting than it actually is.  In truth, it gets off to a slow start (after Mia's possession/exorcism, anyway), plodding along until it gets to a very anticlimactic end.  The author spends a lot of time (a lot) building Mia's demon-catching world, which isn't a bad thing, unless it drags down the action without answering important questions, which is what happens in this novel.  Mia doesn't really form a concrete story goal until the last 3/4 of the book, which makes the rest of the tale feel sluggish and unfocused.  Since there's nothing really new or different about the premise of The Demon Catchers of Milan (although the setting definitely appeals), the novel needs something more to make it memorable—superb writing, unique characters, a never-saw-it-coming plot twist—something to make it stand out.  As is, I found it to be just another average, ordinary teen fantasy novel.  Nothing special.  

(Readalikes:  its sequel, The Halcyon Bird by Kat Beyer; the whole demon/mythical creature thing also reminded me of Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series [City of Bones; City of Ashes; City of Glass; City of Fallen Angels; City of Lost Souls; and City of Heavenly Fire] and Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs) and violence/gore

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Demon Catchers of Milan from the generous folks at Egmont.  Thank you!

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