Terry Brooks is once again at his best in this Urban Fantasy, Running with the Demon. As a fan of Terry Brooks this was a refreshing change from his other books, particularly the Shannara series. I was also pleased to discover that the book is a prequel to the Shannara series. However, this only enhances the story of Running with the Demon, which can hold its own without the aid of Terry Brooks’ bestselling fantasy series.
Nest Freemark is a magically gifted 14-year-old girl living in the town of Hopewell, Illinois. She lives near an old park with her Grandparents and aids the magical creature named Pick to take care of the park and ward away dangerous creatures such as Feeders. Feeders are shadowy creatures that feed on strong human emotions. Only Nest and others possessing magic can see them. Through all this she relies on the protection of a mysterious wolf-like creature called Wraith.
One day in the heat of July two strangers appear in Hopewell. One is a Demon, the other is his hunter, John Ross, a Knight of the Word, bearing magic given him by the Lady, the spokeswoman of the Word, and a representative of order. His office is symbolized in the dark staff he carries from which he can call the purifying fire of the Word. He has dreams of a future should the Demon prevail in his mission and will stop at nothing to eliminate him. With the aid of Nest Freemark they must stop the Demon whilst Nest learns of her own heritage and the reasons why she is so special.
Having gotten used to the Shannara series, this book was a refreshing change in originality for Terry Brooks. It is very different from the epic fantasy we usually expect from the author. As an urban fantasy it is entertaining and Brooks once again proves is adeptness at presenting thoughtful, believable characters, set in unbelievable circumstances.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of this book was the Demon who is a cunning combination of evil and genius. Unlike many similar antagonists this Demon can be calm and composed, acting as a normal human, while subtly manipulating and using people to meet his own ends. He does it so well that no one without magic would be able to tell he was anything but normal.
However, this book could have used a few additions. First of all, in my opinion there were not enough specifics. This may be fine for an urban fantasy, but I would have preferred to have a more detailed magical world. As it is we only see a Demon, a Knight of the Word, and a small handful of magical creatures. Also, while there was a lot at stake in the novel, much of this was not revealed until later and the book appeared a little without purpose for much of the novel. Add to that a rather slow pace and a lot of anticipation with less action. Perhaps this was intentional, but it made for a rather slow read.
Running with the Demon is, despite a few flaws, a wonderful read for anyone interested in urban fantasy or for fans of Terry Brooks, its dark and ominous mood contribute to its thrill and suspense. Highly Recommended.