30 June 2013
“An attractive, blond haired boy with bright, blue eyes fell through the door. He wore a swashbuckler’s shirt and tight, leather pants. ‘Don’t worry, Minx-witch. I shall save you!’ he cried.
Dora gasped and swung her fist out at the strange boy. This fist made a solid connection with his jaw and sent him flipping over face first onto the floor. She looked down at his unconscious body and sighed. ‘Okay, if you must.’”
Demonic Dora by Claire Chilton
For a while I have been hearing about ARCs (advanced reader copies) and I really wanted to get my hands on a couple. In a stroke of luck I found a way to get a couple (e-galleys for an e-readers only, no hard copy ARCs), so I requested a handful. Of those that I received, one grabbed my attention and I knew I would read it first: Demonic Dora. I started reading this on the way to London with Frances. I was laughing aloud on the train and telling her about the best bits. I finished the book before I went to sleep that night!
The story starts with Dora sitting bored in her father’s church service, while her mother films the service for her TV show. Dora escapes from her religious (and actually rather abusive) parents while everyone is praying (she slides out of the pew, and crawls up the aisle!), and goes to her room to summon a high level demon. When nothing happens immediately, she gets angry and walks away. Unknown to her, a demon slips through and terrorizes her parent’s congregation. She only catches the aftermath on her mom’s TV show. Her parents threaten her, since they know it had to be her. They try to cleanse her room with salt, and generally give her a hard time, but right after they leave a strange boy falls out her closet. She finds out he is a demon from Hell. Later, when her parents catch her with her witch’s tools Dora realizes she needs to get away, and goes to Hell with the demon (Kieron). However, she cannot be in Hell with a soul, and must earn her place there. Will Dora be able to survive Hell, and how should she handle the completely besotted Keiron?
I loved this book! As I mentioned before I was reading or telling parts of this story to Frances as I read. It was just so different from everything I have been reading lately. It was funny, and unique. It is also not for younger YA readers (probably 15+ for this one). Honestly, I could not put this book down, and I cannot wait for the next one.
Dora is amazing. She both a hell-raiser yet strangely innocent, and in the end has a good heart. She can take care of herself and finally does what all the other heroines should do when they find a man randomly in their rooms: she knocks him out with a punch. Later, when he gets handsy with her, she knees him in the crotch! She wants to summon a demon, but her first thought is to get him to paint her room anything but the awful pink that it is, and then to show him off to those who didn’t think she could do it. In Hell, she excels in some things to the surprise of everyone else, but other things she has a hard time accepting. She is a character that I really enjoyed rooting for.
Then there is Keiron, who is not necessarily the brightest bulb (he reminds me a little of my brother’s mentally damaged cat, in a good way!). When he stumbles out or Dora’s closet, he doesn’t really understand the world, but he adapts quickly. I love that he mostly calls Dora, Minx-Witch or Dora-Minx. He does not hide his feelings about Dora (even the sexual ones). He is not the best demon though, and is one failure away from being expelled from Hell and he never really gets a hang of being evil. Keiron was brought up in Hell, so certain things that seem bizarre to the reader are normal for him (his family is super crazy). He was a great match for Dora, and the two of them together are great.
The world that Chilton has created is great. Hell is a completely different from anything else I have read with an underworld (e.g. pupils have their heads cut off in class, there is a high way leading nowhere, you can win small creatures at fun fairs, etc.). It works and provides the perfect backdrop for the conflict and character development. The only trouble is the real world. While Dora’s house and her parent’s church are well developed, I could not tell where in the world it was actually meant to be. I thought it might be the UK when Keiron stumbles upon a UK version of Monopoly, but the rest of the words and phrases fit an American based story. This is probably not something everyone will pick up on, but since those are the two countries I live in, I was a bit confused.
The main conflict of Dora trying to find her place in Hell was interesting, but not without some flaws. The ending was neat, but I had already started to guess at the twist (even if I had no idea how it was going to happen). My biggest gripe with the story is that towards the end there is one point where the story skips, and it is not clear how much time has passed. It just feels like there was a bit missing.
Honestly, the writing, story, and content were really different from most things that I have read, and I loved it. I will be buying this when it is published, and I will be counting down to the next books in the series.
Final Verdict: Run and get this as soon as it is published. A bit of crass humor, but fitting for a great story and great characters!
“‘Did you know Larry could fart fire? It’s fuckin’ epic!’ she gestured to the skinny soul sitting across from her who demonstrated by shooting a blast of fire out of his backside.”
Dora, Demonic Dora: The Demon Diaries by Claire Chilton
I first heard of Demonic Dora when Lynne starting reading the book on the train. She kept laughing out loud so I asked her what she was reading. She told me a little about the book and read out a few clips here and there. I knew then that I would like this book because of the author’s wit and strong female lead. I received a copy of the book from Netgalley (an advance reader website that’s free to join if you are a blogger) and I started reading it right away. I have to say that I found the book to be both entertaining and original.
Demonic Dora beings with Dora sitting through another one of her father’s church services, which are filmed by her mother and broadcast, live, on television. Dora decides to sneak away to her room and summon a demon on the back of a twister mat instead. Dora waits for the demon to appear but she is impatient and leaves. Unbeknownst to her, the summoning spell does work and a demon appears in her bedroom closet. When Dora returns to her bedroom she catches the end of her parent’s TV show and sees that they have been tormented by demons. She is elated because her spell worked, but knows that she will be in big trouble with her parents. On cue, her father bursts into the room and begins an exorcism ritual, believing Dora to be possessed by a demon. This is obviously a regular occurrence for Dora because she isn’t surprised and she goes along with it. Once her parents leave, the demon falls out of her closet bringing half of it with him. The demon introduces himself as Kieron and believes he is now Dora’s “bitch” as she is a seductress witch. Things go from bad to worse when Dora’s parents catch her with her witchcraft tools. Her parents react as though this is worse than being possessed by a demon and Dora only just escapes to Hell with Kieron. Dora decides that as she doesn’t fit in on Earth maybe she will in Hell. The only problem is that Dora can’t stay in Hell with a soul because souls equal money and there are plenty of demons who want to steal it from her. Dora’s only option is to enter the academy that Kieron goes to and darken up her soul to prove she is demon enough to stay. She hopes Kieron will be able to help her, although he is only one wrong move away from being expelled from Hell.
I enjoyed the characterizations in this book. Dora was funny and had a “screw it” kind of attitude. I liked that she didn’t rely on others to solve her problems for her and she didn’t cling to Keiron once they met, i.e., she didn’t fall into the role of a helpless woman in need of a male demon to save her. Dora often saved herself. I liked that the way Dora was written matched the character’s age. Often, characters that are teenagers, like Dora, seem much older than their age. I liked that Dora was naïve and innocent in places and the things that did go her way were often down to luck. I also found her reactions to events that happen in the book to be believable and I empathized with her situation.
Kieron was very well written. Often male characters either are a complete male stereotype (i.e., solely focused on appearance and sex) or way too feminine so that the only way to tell that the character is male is the use of “he”. Kieron was believable as a male character and he had a distinct voice from Dora. I liked the enigma surrounding Kieron because he is rather sympathetic for a demon and his demon form isn’t that spectacular (Dora tries not to laugh when she sees it). The best part about Kieron, though, was his sense of humor. He constantly teases Dora and some of the nicknames he comes up with are funny (e.g., Dora-Minx or Minx-Witch). I think one of the best aspects of this book was the connection between Dora and Kieron. Again, this was believable because they didn’t decide they were immediately meant for each other. Instead, they were initially attracted to each other and over time came to like each other more and more. I liked how Chilton slowly developed the relationship throughout the book and I didn’t once roll my eyes (which is impressive!). I enjoyed the banter that passed between them too. They were both quick witted and it made the conversations amusing to read.
I liked how Chilton’s sense of humor seeped through the book. It rang clear through the characters’ voices, but also in the details of the book. For example, Dora’s parents often try to exorcise a (fictional) demon from inside Dora. It was humorous to see how calmly Dora reacted to this (a common occurrence, I guess) and how Dora played along so they would hurry up and leave. Plus, I loved how the words of the exorcism made the clothes in the closet attack Kieron. Then, later there is the highway to hell. I couldn’t help singing Highway to Hell during those scenes. Later still, when Dora casts magic, the words for the spells are hilarious. Rather than being some complicated verse in another language, Dora states exactly what she wants. For example, when Kazaik (a teacher) cast a spell on Dora, Dora cried out “Doodlysquat!” and “roughly fifty tons of manure dropped through the ceiling and landed on Kazaik, dousing the flames and burying him under a mound of horseshit”. The humor is constant throughout, which meant I had a smile on my face throughout and I laughed aloud, often (a rarity for most books). Even the chapter titles are humorous!
The plot was a tad predictable in terms of the big reveals. I saw the twist at the ending coming. However, there were lots of things in the book that caught me off guard; mostly random funny things that Dora ended up doing. While I usually don’t like predictable plots, I can easily forgive that I figured out the big twist at the end of this book because the rest wasn’t always predictable. I never knew what Dora was going to do next.
I do think that there was a little error in the timeline towards the end of the book. It wasn’t clear how long had passed before Judgment Day. From Kieron’s perspective it was only a day and that fits with the rest of the book. Judgement Day was meant to be very soon. Yet, from Dora’s perspective, she talks about being there for a year before Judgement Day. I’m not sure whether that was meant to be how she felt, but she changed an awful lot in a matter of hours if it was only a day!
Final Verdict: Original, humorous and refreshing to read! Bring on book two in the Demonic Dora series!