Heart-stopping action, punchy dialogue and myriad monsters make Derek Landy’s new YA horror novel, Demon Road, hard to put down.
16-year-old Amber Lamont is a typical teenager – a little awkward, self-conscious and alienated from her parents. For as long as she could remember there’s been something off about them, but she could never have guessed the horrifying truth.
She’s a demon, and her also-demonic parents plan to eat her. Amber makes a deal with her parents’ boss, The Shining Demon, to change her fate triggering a road-trip through the darkest corners of America.
On the run with the enigmatic Milo – who drives a Dodge Charger with a murderous mind of its own – Amber tracks down an undead serial killer and fights vampires, all while avoiding her merciless parents. They are joined by loveable fool Glen, a young man marked for death by unearthly means.
If it sounds silly, it is, but in the best way. This first in a new trilogy is a great start to a bigger story peppered with peculiar characters, that doesn’t take itself too seriously. And with so much dystopia on the menu for the young adult reader, a frightfully good scare might make a refreshing change.
The plot moves at an exhilarating pace, from the shocking opening to the gripping finale. Landy strikes the right balance between scares and comedy, with some genuinely funny moments, and priceless exchanges between the central characters.
One standout is the first meeting between Amber, nervously trying out her powers for the first time, and an awe-struck Glen, slightly enamoured of her red skin and horns yet also trying to steal her wallet.
The book is an apt metaphor for the anxieties that go along with being a teenager. Amber is often put down by others based on her appearance, so you might be forgiven for thinking that her ‘shifting’ into a beautiful demon form might be kind of a cop-out.
Instead, her demon side seems to offer her room to explore how she feels – plus she gets her own back from time to time.
With an engaging story, weird and wonderful characters and a dash of teenage angst, Demon Road is one highway you’ll want to go down.