Sex Demon, by Kat Cotton - 3.5 Stars

If you step aside from the deliberately provocative title, as nothing suggested is described, this is a book about a twenty-something street kid hunting down demons for a living, clearly aimed at the market once served by Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In fact, I don’t think it is possible to review this without mentioning that previous title. The differences are: The slayer doesn’t have a gang of friends, she works and talks in the style of an early NY detective, she gets paid and the supernatural entities aren’t quite so teenagey.

I do need to say something about the plot to help explain the title. In the context of a set of demon hunter books, the demon being hunted in this one takes on the form of people’s previously deceased (or lost) husbands and infiltrates their homes, in this case the happy home of Mr & Mrs Duffy (sic). Queue the slayer, who looks for ways to make the demon reveal itself. The demon slides into their victim’s dreams and then gets lewd, although that’s all we hear about that, and the resourceful nemesis does her homework around town, learns new things and takes him on with her bag of tricks.

Some women will buy this because they have a demon lover fantasy, which is perhaps where this ancient incubus (male) idea came from. The ancient female equivalent was a succubus, which gave lads wet dreams (don’t blame me) but neither of those are discussed in this short book because the classification used isn’t a name I haven’t heard of before. Apparently it’s a Hungarian ghoulie. Sufferers of sleep apnoea are the real victims of night time demons, so check out William Blake’s painting called The Nightmare. Generally, the supernatural entity in this book is not romantic (like Angel in Buffy) and just wants the exercise, so I might be wrong but if that series is what it’s modelled on, I wonder if this functional line ticks the Buffy audience’s box? Maybe he should have taken Mrs Duffy to the pictures a few times.

What really made me look twice at this title was the cover because I keep seeing this model everywhere and feel that if this is a stock photo, it’s being over-used. Just yesterday I saw her three times, so she’s on Kat Cotton’s cover for this series as character “Clem Starr, Demon Fighter”, she’s shown dressed up in a camouflage jacket on a probably military sci-fi book by a different author on Instafreebie (they’ve changed the page overnight and I can’t find it again, grrr) and she’s on the cover of at least six Diana Rowland books as yet another character. If you’re going to have a character model to run through a long series, it would seem better to have exclusive rights. That might mean paying a bit more but there are a lot of people who’d want to be your cover girl and build their portfolio.

I did like this book and would read the series if I had time, so I’m especially noting the innovation (not solved with bang-off guns) and the use of humour, so it’s really a 3.5 star novella. I think it was a smidge too short, the main character was a little isolated and the demon should have been more seductive, in a show not tell sense, having presumably thousands of years’ worth of knowledge about how to manipulate female victims. Psychopaths are known to be extremely charming and manipulative and they’ve learned that skill in a few years, so imagine what a demon could do. What traits would seduce you? What would you fall for and invite into your home even when your conscious mind knows something wrong is happening? Bright thoughts and cheeky laughter melt through my defences quicker than I’d like to admit. For everyone else, it’s insincerity and chocolate.

Clem Starr, Demon Hunter, Part 5. Not bad. The insatiable and manipulative character of the demon could have been brought out a bit more though, to make him a dangerous challenge, worth overcoming and to show he can’t get anywhere without the victim’s personal consent. Details please - how does he do it? What does he say? It’s all in the words. Then it would be a riff on the modern pick up artist, a four star book and a satisfyingly deeper and longer run through. This was supposed to be about the sub-conscious, wasn’t it?