I heard from another reader that this story was quite short, although it also sounded quite compelling. After reading it I wrongly assumed (due to it being so short) that it must have been a short story found amongst the late author Douglas Nicholas’ notes, before being published posthumously. However, I was quite surprised to discover that it was published almost two years before Nicholas’ sudden passing.
The brevity of this book is both a blessing and a curse, so that I also wondered if Nicholas’ publisher wanted a short book that could be offered as a free giveaway to readers who had signed up to his website’s mailing list (which is a common practice amongst indie authors). Yet this was also not the case.
Nicholas’ publishers obviously thought that this was a story that stood on its two feet and which was worth putting out there, and I’m glad that it saw the light of day. That said, it will probably only appeal to fans of Nicholas’ ‘Molly & Co.’ tetralogy, which includes ‘Something Red’, ‘The Wicked’, ‘Throne of Darkness’ and ‘Three Queens In Erin’. That said, Molly and her troupe of adventurers do not feature in ‘The Demon’, whose hero is a secondary character from the tetralogy, a formidable warrior whose seemingly invincible martial prowess earns him a lot of prominence in the series.
Anyone who (like me) has read and enjoyed the ‘Molly & Co.’ series will have no doubt already guessed that I’m talking about Sir Balthasar. These fans of Douglas Nicholas will also not be surprised to learn that Sir Baz instantly decides to confront a horrific demon which is said to be terrorising travellers in the woods surrounding his Lord Sir Jehan’s castle.
Sir Baz sets about assembling a mounted armed force and laying a plan to attack the beast, before leading his men beyond the safety of Sir Jehan’s castle walls to find the monster. If we’re honest the plan is a bit of a hare-brained scheme, since it involves sending two men in a wagon ahead of the armed riders to lure out the lurking monster, before summoning Sir Baz’s mounted men through blasts of the horn. Yet lovers of Nicholas will probably be quick to forgive this, while accepting that Sir Baz is a formidable warrior but not necessarily the sharpest tool in the shed. After all, the main draw in this book is the author’s prose, with its unique ability to evoke a sense of wonder as well as horror.
So this book is a four on five stars for me, although I am a confessed fan of Nicholas’ fiction. ‘The Demon’ does contain some fundamental plot weakness, yet they’re worth overlooking in order to savour the rare privilege of stepping back into Nicholas’ medieval and fantastical world.