4 out of 4 stars
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Demon Freaks, written by J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison and published by Fiery Seas Publishing, is a young adult horror comedy. It follows a group of four friends/bandmates who desperately need to study for their SATs. Unfortunately for them, the forces of evil combine to render this an impossible task. In this case the forces of evil include a possessed dagger, an unusually mean history teacher, a group called the Sons of Darkness, and the local golfers’ association.
This book did an excellent job of creating interesting, relatable characters and putting them in horrifying yet somehow hilarious situations. I very quickly found myself familiar with and fond of the characters, to the point where after a certain bit of dialogue I would think, “That is so something he would say.” The author’s descriptions of the various dangers encountered by the protagonists were perfectly horrifying, and just when I felt nervous about the situation he would break the tension with an accurate description of how a self-conscious teenager would respond in such a scenario, which provided constant entertainment. Every character, good or evil, was unique and memorable. There was never a time I had to stop and think of who was speaking or what was happening, because they were all given such particular characteristics.
What I also liked was how truthful the thoughts and actions of the characters were. The teenagers were not made out to be unrealistically brave or mature; instead they acted like youthful, inexperienced and sheltered teens. There was nothing extraordinary in particular about each of them, but they were thrown into an extraordinary situation and had to do some extraordinary things to save themselves. While this took some bravery, the dominant emotions felt by the teens were fear, anger, and anxiety, which came across as very genuine.
My one issue with this book was a result of my own personal distaste for never-ending and highly unlikely twists in the protagonists’ favor. No matter how dire the circumstances, there was always some strange rescue or stroke of luck which would come just in the nick of time. Whenever this did happen, however, I had to remind myself that this is a comedy and that without these fortunate twists the book would very quickly become a gruesome drama which would have been much less enjoyable. And, as I often tell myself when reading novels with similar lucky coincidences, if there were no remarkable circumstances it would likely not be a story worth writing or reading about.
Having said that, I give this novel a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I was able to get over my bias against luck being on the side of the heroes and thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. It was very well-written and flawlessly edited, the author developed entertaining characters, and he created an original story filled with horror and humor. I can’t wait for a sequel!
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