teenfictionreviews.blogspot.com | 14 February 2006 | Becky Holland
It’s possible to sum up Darren Shan’s Demon Thief, part of the Demonata series, in one quotation from the novel itself: ‘the universe demands sacrifice and pain of its champions.’Kernel Fleck is a human boy whose brother is stolen by a demon. When he sets out through the gateway to Demonata - the world of demons - he discovers that he too has magical powers. But will those powers be enough to defeat the demons?I found Demon Thief a powerful book, largely because Shan is not afraid to cross the Political Correctness barrier that worries most writers of teen fiction. That didn’t put me off though. Quite the opposite. Demon Thief uses some imaginatively gruesome settings - demon-infested worlds of magic - but there’s an air of raw truthfulness to the book which makes everything seem more fragile and interesting.Demon Thief is the tale of a boy who discovers that no one is ever born a hero automatically, but that being witness to horrific deeds can either make or break you. Shan employs the theme of loneliness to great effect in Demon Thief, asking what loneliness can drive you to - whether that’s loving a demon or becoming one yourself. And he uses the image of gateways to suggest a balance between control and fear of the unknown. What I liked best was that he doesn’t try to make reality any ‘nicer’; instead, he shows what reality can be like in a surreal world, blurring the boundaries between worlds until even the characters ask themselves ‘Surely, even this warped universe of horrors can’t be that cruel.’ But it can be sickening and twisted, with Shan describing everything from different points of view in terrible detail.By the end of the book, though, after reading this stomach-churning tale of horror and mystery, I felt that Shan wanted me to realise that the real world can be like that as well - that we have our own demons in this world too, even if they hide their true selves, disguised in human form.
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