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Speak of the Devil is the fourth book in Jenna Black's urban fantasy series. At this point in the series a lot has happened and although you could probably read this book and get the general idea of what is happening I would recommend starting at the beginning. For those of you who haven't read the previous three books I am going to provide some background for this novel so that you can follow the review but I would highly recommend reading the series. If you do plan on reading the first three books then it's probably better if you don't read this review because it will contain spoilers for the other books.
This series is set in a parallel universe. It appears to be exactly like ours except for the demons. Demons are incorporeal beings who use human hosts to live in our world. Hosts are usually volunteers who are chosen for their youth and good looks and in many circles being a demon host is considered a privelege. Demons are able to heal their hosts and are much stronger than humans so they often take on very heroic jobs, making being a demon host appealing to many people. Of course there are different attitudes to demons. There are some organisations who are very anti demon and some organisations that practically worship demons.
Demons are able to take control of humans without their permission simply by using the body they are currently in and touching the person they want to be in. These books are set in the USA where it's illegal to possess a person without permission and where it's very controlled.
The law for demons is different. A demon is not allowed to be violent for any reason, even for self defence. If a demon breaks the law or is illegal they will be exorcised by an exorcist. Humans don't know it but exorcising a demon just sends her or him back to the demon realm, the only way to actually kill a demon is to burn the host alive. This occasionally happens in some states if the demon is too strong for exorcists to exorcise.
I think that one of the strengths of this fantasy world that Black has created is that it's so similar to our own. Throughout the series she adds little details that set it apart from our own but they are quite small things, the majority of the world is just like our own. I think it makes it a lot easier to follow what is happening with the demons and it makes it easier to be drawn into the book. I love fantasy novels but sometimes I think it can feel really difficult to follow them and picture the world that they are set in. That's not the case in this book. It's just so easy to be drawn in.
-The Story so Far-
Morgan Kingsley is one of the strongest exorcists in the world. During an exorcism a demon tries to possess her but for some reason can't. She later finds out that it's because she's already possessed. Unlike other demon hosts Morgan is able to remain in control of her body while hosting a demon. We later find out that it's because the man she thought was her father wasn't and that her biological father was the result of an experiment to create the perfect demon host. This is what makes her such a powerful exorcist and is the reason why she can control her body even while she's possessed.
Morgan isn't possessed by just any demon, she's possessed by Lugh, the King of the demons. In an attempt to kill Lugh one of his brothers summoned Lugh into Morgan so that she could be disposed of and his brother could take the throne. His plan is to basically enslave the human race and make them all demon hosts.
Lugh and Morgan have gathered some people, both human and demon, who they can trust to help them defeat Lugh's brother. Each book brings a different obstacle to overcome in the war for the demon throne.
I've really loved this plot. I don't think it's the most original but I think that the whole demon thing gives this plot a new lease of life. When I first started reading I thought that it was really unoriginal but still enjoyable and I guess that hasn't really changed throughout the series but Black does give her own twist on things that have already been done a thousand times before and I think it's much more important to enjoy the books than it is to read something original.
I don't usually write much about the characters but I think it would be difficult to follow my review without knowing all of the characters.
Morgan is the main character and the book is written from her point of view. She's an exorcist who is hosting Lugh.
Lugh is the king of the demons.
Raphael is Lugh's brother. He's not a good character as such but he is on Lugh's side in the war. He was previously hosted by Andy.
Andy is Morgan's brother and Raphael's former host. Since being free of Raphael (who had left him in a coma) Andy has been acting very depressed and unhappy.
Adam is a demon and a policeman who is high up in the police force (comes in handy as Morgan gets into trouble a lot).
Dominic is Adam's boyfriend, a good friend of Morgan's and previously hosted Saul.
Saul is Raphael's son. He was formerly hosted by Dominic but Morgan exorcised him when he had to act in self defence when under attack from anti demon people.
Brian is Morgan's boyfriend.
Dougal is Lugh's brother who is trying to kill Lugh.
Barbara is a private investigator who has been hired to follow Morgan.
-Speak of the Devil-
As always things are not going well for Morgan. In addition to being the unwilling host of the demon king (who is still trying to seduce her in her dreams) she is receiving death threats, has a lawsuit being filed against her and she's having relationship problems. Soon Morgan is once again fighting against demons and trying to protect Lugh's secrets.
Although I did enjoy this book it was a bit of a disappointment. I've still rated it four stars, it's still much better than most of the books that I read but it wasn't as good as the previous books in the series. The problem for me was that it felt more like a filler book. Very little happens that is relevant to the overall plot, there are a few things but nothing that's particularly significant. I just felt that I wanted to know what was going to happen next in the demon war and then nothing really happened at all. As I said, it's not that this is a bad book, it's still a really enjoyable read but it didn't deliver what I expected it to deliver.
One of the strengths of this series are the characters. I like all of the characters in these books. The only character that I don't particularly enjoy reading is Brian who I have often thought lacks an edge but even Brian is growing on me. In this book I think it is particularly important that the reader likes the characters because I thought that the main thing that this book did was give the characters an opportunity to develop and the reader the opportunity to get to know them better, particularly Saul who has only recently returned the human plane. All of the characters are related in many different ways (not necessarily through family ties) and the relationships are so complicated that I thought it was good to have this book to explore them. You do find out some very interesting things about the characters in this book.
This book is written in the first person. I thought this was a good thing up until this book but now I'm not so sure. I do like that you get to know exactly what Morgan is thinking and it really helps you to get to know her character and to empathise with her. However, I was aware during this book that everything you know about the other characters is just Morgan's perception. The other characters fascinate me so much and I would love to get to know them better. I don't feel that writing in the first person really gives the reader this opportunity, unless Black changes the narrator.
The plot in this book was okay even if it didn't feed into the wider plot. I wouldn't say that it was remarkable and this certainly won't be one of the books in the series that really stands out for me but it was enjoyable enough. Black did manage to build up some suspense but you just know that nothing fatal is going to happen to Morgan because there is another book coming and she is the star and the other characters weren't that involved in this part of the plot. There were some surprises and twists which were good but as they weren't part of the wider plot I found myself not really caring that much. I was happy to have the mystery solved but at the same time left feeling unsatisfied because it had so little to do with anything else.
As with other books in this series there are a lot of erotic scenes. In each book they seem to get a little bit kinkier. I'll let you decide if that's a good thing or not. These books are not erotica or romance but do have a bit of both which I think is a good thing.
Overall I did enjoy this book but I don't think it's as good as the other books in the series and felt like it was a filler book.