NB: this plot outline contains Plot Spoilers about Book 6 of The Demonata!!! You should not read this unless you have read Demon Apocalypse!!!!!
Death's Shadow, the 7th book of The Demonata, is set several months after the events of Demon Apocalypse. The narrator is Bec, newly returned from the dead. Life isn't easy for a teenage girl in the 21st century, but it's especially difficult for a girl who was born more than fifteen hundred years earlier!! Her struggles to adapt to the modern-day world aren't helped by her guardian, Dervish. In mourning, more alone and confused than he's ever been since Grubbs came to live with him, Dervish sees Bec as a link to the nephew he lost, and treats her with contempt and disdain. Bec finally makes up her mind to challenge him, but just when it seems like they might be about to make peace, their world is thrown into chaos and they must fight desperately to stay alive.
A new menace has arisen in the universe of the Demonata. Mankind faces its greatest ever threat, and this time it looks like even the power of Beranabus and the Disciples might not be enough to drive back the demon hordes. The clock is ticking, and each member of the Kah-Gash (Bec, Grubbs and Kernel) must set off on a quest to uncover answers and solve deadly mysteries, before it's too late. But will those answers help them, or will they just confirm what Lord Loss already believes -- that mankind is finished?!?
The race to save the world starts here ...
Death's Shadow was the first book of the series that I had written in its correct sequence since Lord Loss!!! As I've explained in my other plot notes, each of the following five books was written out of the order in which they were published, e.g. Demon Thief was actually the 6th book I wrote, even though it was published second. This was a series that came together in a chaotic, roundabout fashion, and it was only at this point that I actually got everything straight in my head and realised what the overall direction of The Demonata was. Having finally drawn all the various characters and story-lines together, I was now free to move forward in a more linear fashion, and from Book 7 onwards, each book was written in sequence -- no more frantic jumping about for me!!!
In a weird way, Death's Shadow is when the main story of the series actually kicks in for real. Although the story has been building since Book 1, and each book has offered glimpses of that story (as you'll see if you go back and re-read them after you've read Book 7), it's only now that everything comes clearly into focus. There is a threat to the world, greater than any we've faced before. In fact, as we'll see in later books, it's not just our world that is threatened, but the entire universe. The war between humanity and the Demonata is drawing to a close. One way or another, there WILL be a victor, and soon. Lord Loss thinks that the demons, with the aid of their new ally, are going to win, so he sides against humanity. Beranabus and his Disciples want to believe that they can win this final battle, but the odds are stacked against them. Their only hope lies in finding out who or what the mysterious Shadow is (the creature glimpsed briefly near the end of Book 6), and then trying to find a way to fight it.
I wasn't sure of the exact structure of the series when I was working on the first 6 books. Grubbs was clearly the main narrator of the first half of the series, but would he remain the focal character in the second half? How would I fit the stories of Bec and Kernel in around those of Grubbs, without making the other two-thirds of the Kah-Gash seem like secondary characters? I finally settled on the structure - the order in which the narrators would appear - when I wrote Demon Thief. With the appearance of Bec as the narrator in Book 7, the smarter fans among you should now have enough evidence to guess at the structure and work out who will be narrating each of the last three books of the series. If you're still uncertain, have another look at the structure of Book 4, Bec -- and bear in mind that in this series, as in that book, I'm very interested in exploring ideas of cycles and symmetry ...
One of the problems that symmetrical structure posed was how did I go about fitting in Beranabus' back story? I'd thought hard about the mysterious magician, and pieced together much of his past. He had a fascinating story to tell, and ideally I would have liked to give him an entire book of his own, tracing his growth from infant to adult, over a period of thousands of years. But there was no way of comfortably squeezing that into the 10 book series that I had come to envisage -- and, as you'll see when you work out what the structure is, there HAD to be 10 books, no more, no less. I thought about leaving his past a mystery and one day writing a one-off book, or even a mini-series about him. But I was reluctant to do that, since I felt fans needed to know more about him during the course of the series, where he came from, why he fought so hard, how much he had put into protecting the world, how strongly mankind unknowingly had depended upon him over the centuries. Fortunately the character of Bec provided me with the answer, and I was able to include a few chapters about Beranabus in this book, giving us some tantalising insights into his life, the way he was born, how he came to be mankind's champion, how he evolved from the simple boy we saw in Book 4 to the masterful magician we'd met in the modern-day books. It's a slight cheat on my part -- it breaks up the present-tense narrative that has been a feature of the other books -- but there was no other way to fit it in, and I felt VERY strongly that it needed to be included. So, in essense, you're getting two books for the price of one in Death's Shadow -- wahoo!!!!!
I started Death's Shadow in May 2005, 3 years before it was published. Having worked up a hefty set of notes, I began writing the first draft of May 23rd, and finished it on June 10th -- I worked quickly on it, because I was so excited about it!!! But the first draft didn't include the sections about Beranabus' past -- I wrote those on June 10th, 11th and 12th. The book has a three act structure, end each act revolves around an attack by different creatures in different locations. I imagined it almost as a three act play, in which each act needed to take place on a specially designed set. Act 1 -- Dervish's home. Act 2 -- a hospital. Act 3 -- a ship. So that's the basic set-up -- but you'll have to read the book to find out what manner of monsters attack in each scene!!!
The book was originally called S.S. Demonic, since it climaxes on a ship. I quite like that title, but I was nervous about using the word "demon" too often (especially as book 6 was called Demon Apocalypse). When my editor said she hated S.S. Demonic, my course was clear, and I set about searching for a new title. It took quite a long time, and lots of bouncing about of ideas between myself and my editor, but finally we settled on Death's Shadow. I really like it, especially as it one of those (such as Sons Of Destiny) with a double meaning that only becomes clear right at the very end of the book ...
I used some names of people I know in this book. There's a character called Kealan, after one of my cousins. (He's from a family of five, and the others -- Meara, Ronan, Lorcan and Tiernan -- have all made appearances in earlier books. I was saving him for a special occasion!!!) Another character, mentioned briefly, is Zahava Lever, named after the daughter of an independent book store which I've visited several times over the years. And some of the characters are named after fans in Hungary! I visited Hungary on tour shortly before starting work on D7, and because the people's names were very difficult for me to spell, they had to write them down on sheets of paper. I kept those sheets and took the liberty of extracting a few names to use in the book!!!
One piece of advice before I wrap this up -- I'd suggest you take a good deep breath before you begin Death's Shadow -- it's fairly frenetic, and I don't think you're going to put the book down too often while you're reading it!!! Also, it's worth bearing in mind that while I won't be jumping back and forth in time in the last four books of the series, there IS a temporal overlap to deal with in books 7, 8 and 9. Don't worry -- it's not as complicated as it sounds!! Basically there are certain scenes which appear in each of those three books, but seen from a different point of view. So, when you come to read book 8, if you get a sense of deja vu, don't worry, you're not going crazy!!!!!