Thursday, 30 January 2014

Book Review: A Warm Place to Call Home (a demon's story) by Michael Siemsen




The concept of a malevolent demon didn't exist in human society until relatively recently, when a mistranslation and simplification of two similarly-defined words, angelos and daimones, both messengers from God, forever broke the two into distinct entities - one benevolent, and the other the servant of the recently-established devil. Before that, philosophers and scholars freely discussed the human soul, or daimon, and its ability to continue on, transcending the human body after death.

A few months ago I read and loved Michael Siemsen's second book in his (a demon's story) series, The Many Lives of Samuel Beauchamp. A Warm Place to Call Home was the first book published so I have read them out of order but would this matter?
A Warm Place to Call Home doesn't feature Samuel - this time our demon is Frederick. And he is very different to Samuel who I found a sympathetic and likeable character. Frederick on the other hand is pretty amoral, whereas Samuel wanted a family to love, Frederick is a thrill-seeker who sees the bodies he uses as a means of getting what he wants. He takes over a person's body when he feels like it and when he decides it's time to move on he discards them, leaving an empty shell. When he meets and wants Melanie he has no qualms about taking over her boyfriend, Joseph's body, he is merely a means to an end. Frederick then is not that likeable. Yet I did grow to like him. This isn't the dark thriller that Many Lives is but is no less an enjoyable and thoughtful read. It suggests there is a sliding scale between evil and good and examines what motivates people in the way they behave towards others. How good is a benevolent act if it's self-serving? Can love change a demon?  A Warm Place to Call Home is challenging and intelligent with plenty of twists and turns and an ambiguous ending, it kept me guessing and I was engrossed throughout. Michael Siemsen says he wrote the books so they work either way and I'm pleased to say I agree with him. I didn't feel my enjoyment of either was impaired by the order I read them in. There are hints about the other story in both books without giving anything away and they complement each other perfectly. I'm now eagerly awaiting the third book, Frederick & Samuel.

A Warm Place to Call Home (a demon's story) is published by Fantome Publishing.

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