Fans of "The Historian" won't be able to put down this spellbinding literary horror story in which a Columbia professor must use his knowledge of demonic mythology to rescue his daughter from the Underworld. Read more...
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Fans of "The Historian" won't be able to put down this spellbinding literary horror story in which a Columbia professor must use his knowledge of demonic mythology to rescue his daughter from the Underworld.
Professor David Ullman is among the world's leading authorities on demonic literature, with special expertise in Milton's "Paradise Lost." Not that David is a believer--he sees what he teaches as a branch of the imagination and nothing more. So when the mysterious Thin Woman arrives at his office and invites him to travel to Venice and witness a "phenomenon," he turns her down. She leaves plane tickets and an address on his desk, advising David that her employer is not often disappointed.
That evening, David's wife announces she is leaving him. With his life suddenly in shambles, he impulsively whisks his beloved twelve-year-old daughter, Tess, off to Venice after all. The girl has recently been stricken by the same melancholy moods David knows so well, and he hopes to cheer her up and distract them both from the troubles at home.
But what happens in Venice will change everything.
First, in a tiny attic room at the address provided by the Thin Woman, David sees a man restrained in a chair, muttering, clearly insane... but could he truly be possessed? Then the man speaks clearly, in the voice of David's dead father, repeating the last words he ever spoke to his son. Words that have left scars--and a mystery--behind.
When David rushes back to the hotel, he discovers Tess perched on the roof's edge, high above the waters of the Grand Canal. Before she falls, she manages to utter a final plea: "Find me."
What follows is an unimaginable journey for David Ullman from skeptic to true believer. In a terrifying quest guided by symbols and riddles from the pages of "Paradise Lost, "David must track the demon that has captured his daughter and discover its name. If he fails, he will lose Tess forever.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-01-14
- Reviewer: Staff
A mesmerizing and melancholy narrative voice lends chilling credibility to this exceptional supernatural thriller. Milton scholar David Ullman, who teaches English literature at Columbia, believes that loneliness, each person’s going like Adam and Eve “their solitary way,” is the real theme of Paradise Lost. Outside of work, the professor has a failed marriage and a beloved 11-year-old daughter, Tess. One day, a “worryingly thin” woman with a generic European accent shows up at his campus office with an unusual offer. The woman, who says she represents a client “who demands discretion above all,” will pay Ullman a sum a third larger than his annual salary if he will travel immediately to Venice to observe a “phenomenon” that his expertise on demons qualifies him to assess. Ullman protests that he doesn’t believe in demons, but in the end, accompanied by Tess, he goes to Venice, where tragedy ensues. Pyper (Lost Girl) is especially gifted at plausibly anthropomorphizing inanimate objects to creepy effect. A standard rural mailbox is transformed into “a stooped figure, lurching after me, its mouth wide in a scream”; a book becomes “a mouth gasping for air.” Agent: Stephanie Cabot, the Gernert Company. (Mar.)
The raising of Pandemonium
Looking at the premise of Andrew Pyper’s sixth novel, The Demonologist, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re about to crack open another Da Vinci Code imitator, a sensationalistic voyage of carefully placed clues, perfectly timed cliffhangers and impossible revelations. Don’t fall for it. In these pages, Pyper has done something more. Though it’s certainly a solid thriller with plenty of page-turning power, The Demonologist is at its heart a painfully human drama about loss, redemption and belief.
A gripping human drama with the pacing of a thriller, Andrew Pyper’s latest novel is a surprisingly weighty page-turner.
David Ullman is a prestigious professor specializing in biblical literature and tales of demons, and one of the world’s foremost experts on John Milton’s epic poem of heaven and hell, Paradise Lost. Though religious literature is his specialty, David doesn’t believe a word of it. His interest is unshakably academic, until a woman visits his office with a strange proposition. Just days later, tragedy strikes, and David finds himself battling dark forces and a ticking clock in a desperate effort to get his daughter Tess back. Along the way everything he thinks he knows about demons will be challenged, and everything he’s sure of in the world will be tested.
With its dark mysteries and race against time, The Demonologist has all the trappings of a supernatural thriller, and has already been optioned for film. The “man forced to save his daughter” plot is nothing new, nor is the “skeptic encounters shattering revelations” plot, but in combining them Pyper finds something special. Though he never loses the taut quality of his tale, he allows his characters to take center stage, giving the book a remarkably intimate feeling that many other thrillers of its kind lack.
Readers of hardcore thrillers with supernatural overtones will find there’s a lot of fun to be had between the covers of The Demonologist, but those in the mood for something a little meatier will be satisfied as well. This is a surprisingly weighty page-turner.