The Demons Within by Ashe Armstrong

Series: Grimluk, Demon Hunter #3 Rating: 4/5
Date of Publishing: October 1st 2018 Genre: fantasy, weird west, urban fantasy
Publisher: Armstrong Books Available: Amazon
Number of pages: 346 Author’s website: https://ashearmstrong.com/

Quote of the Book

“A gust of winter wind cut down the street as he walked, kicking the tails of his coat around. He kept far away from the heavy shadows and tall porches with plenty of space underneath”

Blurb

Grimluk is an orc with one purpose: hunting demons.

An isolated farming town has a demon problem, and Grimluk is on hand to fix it. But this time, things aren’t that simple. While Grimluk hunts the demon, a rock crashes from the sky; a rock containing something alien to the world of Arkod. Something oozing and grotesque. Something hungry.

Hunter becomes hunted as this new threat pursues Grimluk, all but immune to his bullets. Worse, the creature’s deadly shapeshifting nature means it could be anywhere – or anyone – around him. Despite his efforts to protect his new friends and the rest of the innocent townsfolk, Grimluk learns all too quickly that it’ll take more than a quick hand and a strong will to win this fight.

For nothing is deadlier than the demons within.

Personal notes

I’ve been following this series since the beginning and backed this entry in the series on Kickstarter.

Song of the Book

I have always pictured Grimluk as an Orc version of Clint Eastwood, with his soft spoken, tough guy don’t mess with him or his family persona. That probably makes this the obvious choice of music but I knew going in, that the only song that does proper justice to Grimluk, is of course, the theme from the Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, a Clint Eastwood classic. I searched around trying to find some mash-ups but they were all too techno for the setting. But then I found this…the perfect cover.

Review

The Demons Within returns us to the wild, weird-west world of Arkod and everyone’s favorite gunslinging Orc, Grimluk. This time around Grimluk is off on his own hunting demons, leaving his adopted daughter Gwen back in the Hollow. This latest demon hunting job sparks big trouble when the brother of his current hunt seeks vengeance. Things get a bit tricky when an alien lifeform and the brother end up cohorts, and even trickier from there, when a mysterious Preacher starts pulling the strings behind the scenes.

Grimluk isn’t alone for long on this adventure and is joined by another Orc named Emerald. She’s a Companion by profession (automatically making me think of Firefly especially with this western slant to this world) that he meets in town. The wonderful thing about having Emerald around is that she lets us see another side to Grimluk, outside of the family and general protector role. The side that confesses fears and shows us he is not just the Orc that ‘gets things done’.

Emerald is an Orc that knows her own mind and I quite liked that about her and that she become a companion because she enjoys comforting people, which was a rather refreshing slant to her profession of choice.
But don’t be getting your hopes up that Grimluk has found himself anything but a good friend here, she clearly has eyes for her ranger and law enforcer girlfriend Manyara, who rounds out the little group quite well with her no nonsense attitude and soft heart.

I grew up on campy horror so I was pretty thrilled with the monster of the week in this book, which was somewhere between The Blob, which was a favorite B movie growing up, and The Thing, one of my favorite monster movies of all time (I’ve seen it dozens of times over the years). So, this just added a whole lot of fun to the story for me, and the visuals of the monster taking over and reshaping were pretty cool!

I also really liked The Big Bad, who was orchestrating behind the scenes with that creepy not sure what he has up his sleeve vibe. Although at times, that same vibe made me question ‘why’ he was allowing Grimluk to leave to fight for another day, and kind of gives this that feeling, ironically (or intentionally?) of those old west movies, when the bad guy sets his dastardly plan in motion to do away with the hero in the grandest way possible and then leaves, allowing the hero to escape. This was probably the biggest sticking point for me in the story but because the Big Bad’s motivations become clearer by the end, it wasn’t much of one.

A couple more thoughts

In my review of Demon Haunted, I noted how much the writing had improved overall but that it still had that meticulous feel at times… In this book, we have lost that meticulous careful writing style, it has relaxed into that easy feel that comes from knowing your characters, and your world well.  I always think this is such a turning point for new writers, when their books get to this point of confidence.

I have also always appreciated the theme of acceptance of other lifestyle choices and found family, that has been a prominent thing in this series and I am glad to say that it continues to be the case in this book.

This has a closed room horror feel at times, like Aliens or the Thing meets the old west. And there’s a nice nod to King’s Dark Tower series.

With it’s old west feel and campy horror movie vibe, The Demons Within is a hugely fun entry into this series.

This review was written by Jennifer (BunnyReads)

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