Damoren, by Seth Skorkowsky

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Publication date – April 12, 2014

Summary: (Taken from GoodReadsA secret society of monster hunters.
A holy revolver forged to eradicate demons.
A possessed man with a tragic past.
A rising evil bent on destroying them all.

MATT HOLLIS is the current wielder of the holy weapon, Dämoren. With it, he stalks and destroys demons.

A secret society called the VALDUCANS has taken an interest in Matt’s activities. They see him as a reckless rogue—little more than a ‘cowboy’ corrupted by a monster—and a potential threat to their ancient order.

As knights and their sentient weapons begin dying, Matt teams up with other hunters of his kind such as LUIZA, a woman with a conquistador blade; ALLAN, an Englishman with an Egyptian khopesh; MALCOLM, a voodoo priest with a sanctified machete; and TAKAIRA, a naginata-swinging Samurai.

As the hunters become the hunted, they must learn to trust one another before a powerful demonic entity thrusts the world into a terrible and ageless darkness.

Thoughts: Seth Skorkowsky’s Damoren is what happens when you take elements from Supernatural, twist the mythology a little, and then add more guns and history. From the get-go I could see the similarities, and I can say with pretty good certainty that if you’re a fan of the show then you’re probably going to enjoy Damoren a fair bit.

The book follows Matt, owner and caretaker of Damoren, which was once a holy sword that was broken and remade in the form of a gun. He lost his family to demons when he was a child, and was subsequently raised by Clay, whose voice in my head sounded so much like Bobby Singer that the only thing missing was the occasional “idjit” comment. After Clay’s unfortunate death, Matt finds himself wrapped up with the Valducan Knights, protectors of ancient holy weapons, sworn to battle and eliminate demons wherever they may be found. Interspersed with the main plot are little interludes, reports of historical demon attacks, theories on demonic possession or nature, excerpts from journals of past Valducan knights, adding depth and backstory to the novel without the awkward experience of having characters sit down and play Mr. Exposition with the newbie.

While the concept behind the Valducan Knights is an interesting one, I found that scenes within the organization suffered for the large cast of characters. Less than half of them got any real development; most were names on a page, sometimes with a few lines, and thus were largely unmemorable. Matt, of course, stood out above the others due to being the main character. Luiza as the love interest, and Anya for her later exploits as the plot advanced. Malcolm, Allen, Susumu, and Kazuo got enough development for me to be able to tell you a couple of things about them. Others, though, showed up and did things but felt like they were placeholders, some random person filling in a spot because a spot needed to be filled. People died, and I don’t actually remember who at times. Forget getting connected enough to feel anything about their deaths.

Honestly, I think that was really the biggest thing that negatively impacted the writing, though. Many of the scenes which featured only a few characters, or Matt by himself, were very smoothly written. The interludes were also full of interesting theories with some nice detail put into them when they were looking at how demons work. Skorkowsky is no lightweight when it comes to attention to detail, and when such detail was lacking in the narration itself, it was more due to the fact that Matt himself wasn’t prone to noticing things. Admittedly, though, that did lead to some uneven reading, rich detail in some areas and then skimming over things in others. It made it realistic from a third-person-limited perspective, but also frustrating when it felt like a scene was begging for something else to make it come alive but that detail and description just wasn’t forthcoming.

There was a lot of promise to this series, and it’s getting good reviews all over the place, but I’m afraid to say that it’s a series I probably won’t continue with. I want to stress that it’s not a reflection of the quality, or the demonstrated creativity of the author. It’s more because the novel just wasn’t to my taste. There are plenty of people I can guarantee that this book would appeal to, and there’s a reason that many have expressed their liking of Damoren since its release. But between my own personal taste and the way I couldn’t really connect with any of the characters, I just don’t think the series is for me. Can’t win ‘em all, I guess. Still, even if your tastes match mine impeccably, I would still say that Damoren itself is worth reading once, to see Skorkowsky’s creative mind at work and to see an interesting twist on the underlying concepts of holy and evil, modernity and tradition, where lines get blurred all over the place and you never know quite what’s going on.

(Received for review from the publisher.)