The Demon’s Grave by E.M. MacCallum
Loved, loved, loved this book. It had a bit of a Cabin in the Woods feel to is but better.
Nora is college student – apparently, sounds a bit high school- with a mysterious past and when she agrees to go on a weekend in the woods with her friends – and Aidan- nightmares are brought to life and her relationships are tested. Demons and zombies and their own traumas are only part of the challenges they have to face to escape the Demon’s Grave, and what is Nora’s connection to the demon putting them through it?
I will admit the side characters lean a little bit towards high school stereotypes – Robin the talkative cheerleader, Phoebe the attractive brave and reckless friend and Aidan the new guy trying to fit in – but it helps give each character a separate personality instead of blurring into one person who could be forgotten. I’m hoping it will be addressed in the next books, but there were back-stories hinted on for these characters, but so far they are a bit one dimensional. Cody I’m curious about- the quiet jock who is Robin’s boyfriend. He is the only one out of the side characters who had a strong reaction to the warnings of the Demon’s grave, but like the back-stories it hasn’t been addressed as to why. Aidan isn’t really a side character but I’m not sure what else to say about him.
These characters aren’t as important in the book, it’s the main and the antagonist that really make the story for me. I’ll be a bit annoying and start with our villain – Damien. Like I do with most stories I’m fascinated by him, maybe a bit attracted to. His physical description did remind me of Edward (Twilight) at first what with him being deathly pale, flawless and too beautiful to exist- I have vague memories of those descriptions of Edward, it was high school, I can’t remember- but that’s it… well that and he’s a mysterious supernatural creature… they look nothing alike. Damien has black hair for example. I think it’s the mystery around him that makes him so attractive to me. He is the one who’s putting Nora and her friends through their nightmares but he doesn’t seem to be doing it out of real malice. He’s just following the rules, maybe having a bit of fun with it but not completely in his control. He even seems to want to help Nora through the challenges to an extent. I really want to know more about him but then I don’t as well. I want to keep the mystery.
Speaking of Nora she’s interesting too. I wouldn’t say she has low self-esteem, like some reviews I read said, more of an introvert. It’s always nice seeing an English Lit. student. As someone who graduated in July it’s nice reminiscing even if its not really mentioned much in the story. Though I do have to question what she has been reading. This was how she described Damien:-
“Nothing that beautiful should exist, except maybe in a fairy tale, to tempt stupid, young girls into some perverse, sexual game.” What fairy tale is she reading?
Character development is an important part of a story and I think she does change as the book goes on. She realizes some of her mistakes in regard to Aidan and, I don’t want to say more confident but I don’t know how else to describe it, maybe more sure of herself? She learns to take charge when she has to and face up to her past. It’s not just what she does that shows this it’s how she’s written. She starts out as not very articulate – she doesn’t have a lot of speech and when she does its mostly interrupted- but that changes as the book goes on, she speaks more and in whole sentences. I really appreciated that she wasn’t as self-sacrificing as most heroines are. She does help people but not over the top and while she does take charge it’s not all the time which I find more realistic. She needs other people to lead so she can be scared and deal with the situation. You can’t be strong all the time. One of the reviews said that she had a mental illness and I’m not sure that’s really true. It might have been even more interesting if she did but I get the feeling its more that since its supernatural its professionals misinterpreting what she went through. I don’t want to spoil what happens but it’s to do with what happened when she was young.
That was something I liked about the book. It didn’t just give her past in big chunks, we find out more and more as the story goes on. It adds the mystery of it as you try to piece together what happened. I think there might be more to it and hope that’s in the next book.
If I’m being really annoying I’d say that it was a bit slow at the beginning. The prologue was good but between that and when the group got to the woods there was a lot of – maybe – unnecessary stuff, won’t know for sure till I read the other books. Also I have a slight issue with the ages of the characters. They are supposed to be college students – I think Nora says she’s 21- yet they sound more like high school students but I don’t care. Everything else was good for me. Despite there being the odd hint here and there, there isn’t a romance factor for the main character which is so refreshing. Really rare in the books I read or whatever I watch. Just to add to it there’s some lovely use of words here which made me nostalgic for my Uni days like mellifluous – always reminds me of Shakespeare that word.
I loved this book so much and was not expecting the ending. The whole plot was written perfectly for me to imagine, in fact I would love to see it as a film or a TV series. I would definitely recommend this book and I really want to read the next one. I don’t usually like anything to do with horror but this made a great into it and really made me question what I would do in that situation