“The Demonologist” by Andrew Pyper (Simon & Schuster, 2013)


In this new dark thriller, along with elements of horror, Andrew Pyper, author of The Guardians and Los Girls, presents a tale that is perhaps best described as The Historian meets The Exorcist, blending a world of history and symbolism and meaning with one of demons and sheer terror.  If Dan Brown were to pen an outright horror novel, it might look something like The Demonologist.

David Ullman is a college professor who specializes in Christian religions, myths and symbolism; he is also one of the foremost scholars on Milton’s Paradise Lost.  With a failed marriage, apart from his teaching all he truly cares for in his life is his wonderful daughter.  When he is mysteriously offered a free flight and stay in Venice to attend a certain meeting employing his expertise as a “demonologist,” he is very reluctant at first, but then decides to go and give his daughter a short vacation in beautiful Venice.  At the meeting with a stranger he sees something that shouldn’t be possible, that isn’t possible he tells himself.  Fleeing in terror he finds his daughter speaking in the voice of one he has read about and studied in many books, before she jumps from the roof of a high building.  Now he begins his true quest, to hunt down the origin of this voice and creature and with hopes to get his daughter back somehow.

The Demonologist is a balance between an interesting professor waxing about the greatness of Milton with plenty of quotes throughout and thrilling, terrifying action scenes as Ullman confronts what can only be called a demon inhabiting a human form, and he is on the run.  The symbols and meanings seem a big stretch to reach at times, but ultimately lead the character to where he needs to go.  As the novel progresses, things get a little uncanny, which might lose some readers, but Pyper brings them back to home in the end with an intense but satisfying conclusion.

Originally written on July 15, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

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