Demon Road by Derek Landy is the first in an urban fantasy trilogy set in the USA. After reading and adoring the Skulduggery Pleasant series for so many years I just had to try out his alternative series.
We follow a 16 year old called Amber, who discovers that her parents are demons who want to eat her, because it will increase their power. And all her parents friends are in on it too, bar one. That one helps Amber to escape and she goes on the run on essentially the supernatural version of Route 66, meeting some violent and magical people along the way.
Amber, unfortunately, did feel like a knock-off Valkyrie (the main character in the Skulduggery series). She was interesting, but just felt a little 2D and lacking in dynamics. Our secondary characters, however, were pretty fleshed out and I enjoyed learning more about them! (Other than the token Irish character, who really needs some more fleshing out. Although it seems like he might get that in the next book, but right now? Glen ain’t my fave). The characters have a similar banter style that we’ve become used to in the SP series, not the same thankfully, but just as banter heavy and slightly ridiculous which makes it fun.
The instigating plotline in this one is… quite ridiculous. It almost makes Skulduggery look normal. But the actual story arc is done well and I enjoyed the road trip aspect, traveling around the US and stumbling across various deadly supernatural entities. The book leaves off with the prospect of this continuing in the the rest of the series so that could be fun. I also really enjoyed our anti-heroine-demon MC, definitely something a little different. She’s not portrayed as pure or as completely breaking away from her demon nature. If anything Landy leans into it and makes her a little worse. But that’s just what makes her seem more like a real person.
Unfortunately there did seem to be a fair amount of fatphobia towards the main character in this book, it seems to be lightly fought back against by Landy but not enough in my opinion. And Ambers overall appearance is heavily focused on (seriously Glen, you’re such a prick about this) with insults continuously flung about calling her ugly in her human form. There’s honestly no need for that and I hope it’s toned down a lot for the next books.
On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 7, Atmosphere: 6, Writing: 6, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 6, Logic: 7 and Enjoyment: 7 which gives an average of 6.57 and a 3.5* rating. I’m debating whether I’ll round this up or down on Goodreads.
Highlight here for trigger warnings: murder, death, blood, cannibalism, gore, violence, trafficking, child death, gun violence, kidnapping, stalking, fatphobia, emotional abuse.
Overall, this isn’t as good as the Skulduggery series. And whilst it feels rude to compare them it also is inevitable. However, separate from that series it’s still a decent book (separate from the fatphobia and Glen – but Glen might just be me) and I’d still recommend for people who think it sounds interesting to give it a shot. You should just also try out the Skulduggery series!
Have you read anything from Landy? Did I mention Skulduggery Pleasant too much? Let me know! 🤣