I received an uncorrected proof copy of Demon in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Matt Wesolowski and Orenda Books.
Demon is the sixth book in Wesolowski’s Six Stories series and in this entry, enigmatic journalist Scott King interviews six witnesses of a horrendous crime that occurred 26 years ago at the quaint village of Ussalthwaite. On his podcast, the crime that the interviewer is looking back at is the ferocious murder of a 12-year-old child with learning difficulties who was killed by 2 other children of the same age. The “demonic duo” were released in 2002 with anonymity and new identities. Present-day, a member of the public claims to have discovered the identity of one or both of the murderers and is bargaining to sell the information to the highest bidder. Opinions and interest in this famous case have become intense, and now Scott King is raking over the grave of this old crime. Will the majority of the public believe in the rehabilitation of the pair or that retribution for the heinous crime is deserved? What will King unearth during his exchanges with these 6 individuals? Is it of importance that Ussalthwaite (a fictional town in Yorkshire) has a history that is shrouded in mystery including witches and the supernatural? Also intriguing, what are King’s motives for talking about this case now?
All in all, I found Demon to be a gripping, engaging, and thought-provoking horror/mystery tale that is presented in an intriguing and addictive way. It’s mostly written in the form of an interview with well-timed, informative, and realistic back-and-forths between interviewer and interviewees. The book has breaks that feature letters, e-mails, and social media updates which adds depth and consequence to unfolding events. My uncorrected proof copy was 225-pages long, with each episode being about a sixth of that length, making it perfect to read one chapter per evening and therefore devouring this short but packed novel within a week. Each episode adds layers and new angles to what we understand about the case so far. It’s interesting to discover each guest’s role in the story, and also what their motives are, and whether they have any demons themselves. Demon is dark, sometimes gruesome, occasionally featuring torturous happenings and Wesolowski himself warns readers that distress may be caused to some as there is fictional violence to children and animals.
I haven’t read any of the other Six Stories books prior to reading this one and can confirm that it works perfectly as a standalone. I am sure I would have had a heightened reading experience if I had read the previous series entries but even without the back story about Scott King or how this links into the overarching Six Stories world, I’m still rating this an extremely positive 8.5/10. At some moments, King does allude to his dark past and events that have happened to him before, and I wasn’t upset that I didn’t understand the references, in fact, it intrigued me to the extent where I’ll probably go back and work my way through the series.
Reading Demon was a captivating and rewarding experience especially as I’m sure I had my amateur sleuth hat on throughout my time reading, trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together myself before King or a guest reveal something of importance. The novel doesn’t wrap up neatly, leaving a lot to the reader’s interpretation. What influence, if any, was down to the supernatural is something I was thinking about throughout but I won’t mention how that sits at the conclusion. It isn’t disappointing that it doesn’t end neat and tidy but it means that you’ll probably be thinking about this story and the possibilities long after finishing it. I can’t get some of the characters and events out of my head. I was thoroughly impressed with Wesolowski’s format, writing, and the complexity of this dark tale.