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Review: Demon in the Window by Judah Swann

Demon in the Window by Judah SwannJericho Coleman is a typical enough six-year-old boy living with his parents in their old Victorian house. Typical enough, until the day his father descends into a brutal rage, killing his mother and chasing Jericho down. His salvation comes in a mysterious voice that calls to him, and with the striking of a deal, his father is found hanging in front of him, dead, by the clawed hand of a stranger. Eventually the stranger returns, and reveals himself to be a demon – Mavado – now in union with Jericho, as per their pact. Things spiral out of control as Jericho turns eighteen, and begins learn of other possessed beings, the deadly gaze of the holy Watchers, and the plans for Armageddon. Taking up the mantle of a freelance demon hunter, Jericho must decide which devils to trust and which to fight in Demon in the Window by Judah Swann.

The book follows somewhat of a laundry list of cliches in its early pages, complete with a foreboding biblical epigraph and a “typical autumn day” start for its non-specific protagonist. The book is almost overly careful with its descriptions and characterization, and the mundane setting turns out as a good contrast as the book takes a sharp turn with the death of Jericho’s mother. Suddenly the insidious and unnatural descriptions of the demon Mavado twist out of the dull surroundings and changes the book into something entirely different. This very stark difference between the natural and supernatural is a wonderful feature of the book that really brings out the feel early on, however this is mired by a generally voluble stance on description that frequently adds detail without adding to context. While not a major problem for the majority of the book, the pace of the writing never quite picks up when the narrative does, and it draws out action just a little longer than would be ideal and suitably punchy.

Much of the plot is rather straightforward but not without its own unique charm and ideas that save the concept from becoming an unused script for Angel. The age-old good versus evil, angels versus demon, demon-hunter haunted by demons set-up is utilized and deftly reshaped in the book’s own image. No grizzled, brooding anti-heroes, just people and the cards dealt to them by fate. The book is neither wacky nor grim and walks a natural path in the shoes of Jericho and his friends and colleagues as the story moves on. Even something as trope-dictated as a final promise of revenge doesn’t come out over-wrought here.

All else aside, the chapters are exceptionally well divided up as each part of the story stops and starts on every right note. The characters, while not all oozing with personality, are distinctive, and the interactions between Mavado and Jericho feel organic enough, despite Mavado’s over-decorated language. Of special mention, the book’s cover art – illustrated by Scott Edward – is a wonderful interpretation of the characters and suits the book very well, even the title itself seeped in character. This book, in my mind, has set a standard for what covers in self-publishing can be that I hope more fiction authors will take note of.

Demon in the Window is an excellent idea with interesting twists and sense of direction that suffers from a copious yet prosaic writing style that draws out much of the narrative tension. Despite this, it is a good read, and is teased as the first part of the Watchers series. While Jericho could very well be involved in later installments it would be interesting to see what the next book has in store with or without him as a focus.

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Jericho Coleman is a typical enough six-year-old boy living with his parents in their old Victorian house. Typical enough, until the day his father descends into a brutal rage, killing his mother and chasing Jericho down. His salvation comes in a mysterious voice that calls to him, and with the striking of a deal, his father is found hanging in front of him, dead, by the clawed hand of a stranger. Eventually the stranger returns, and reveals himself to be a demon – Mavado – now in union with Jericho, as per their pact. Things spiral out of control as…

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