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THE BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S BOOKS - reviewed by ???

 
Aside from his morbid imagination and somewhat excessive bent for grossout mischief (such as putting rat guts in his sister's bath towel), Grubbs Grady is a seemingly normal kid. Then his world collides with that of Lord Loss, a white-lipped demon who feeds on the fear and grief of humans. Grubbs comes home to discover his entire family ripped into shreds and only narrowly escapes being destroyed himself by Lord Loss' familiars, Artery (a flame-eyed child whose scalp swarms with cockroaches) and Vein (a dog-crocodile hybrid). Orphaned and haunted by his family's death, Grubbs is taken in by his uncle Dervish, hoping he'll be safe from any further horrors in the countryside. However, when Grubbs learns that the Grady family is the victim of an ancient curse (some turn into werewolves), and that one of its victims is his recently discovered cousin Bill-E, he must face Lord Loss again, bargaining for Bill-E's cure in a risky, demon-choreographed battle that is part chess tournament, part brawl. In contrast to the vampires of Shan's Cirque du Freak series (BCCB 6/01), Lord Loss has no traces of humanity — he plays by different rules than humans, unless, of course, he is playing chess. Lord Loss' ob­session with chess is his weakness, and the possibility of defeating him (along with Dervish's magical prowess) injects hope into an otherwise bleak landscape. In this first volume in the Demonata series, Shan's dark themes and gruesome descriptions are relieved with periodic bursts of sly humor and snappy dialogue, buoyed by a plot that mercilessly drives the reader forward to an unexpected conclusion. The graphic end met by Grubbs' family early on lets reader know exactly what they are in for; those who don't mind literal (and liberal) blood and guts will be haunted by this tale of demons, werewolves, and dark magic.

 

 

 

 

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