Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Speak of the Devil

Morgan Kingsley is an exorcist in a world in which demons can legally possess human hosts. No one but a select few know that she is secretly hosting an exiled demon king. In this installment of the series, everything that can go wrong in Morgan's life is going wrong. She's being sued for malpractice, she gets dumped by her boyfriend, and it appears that someone is out to destroy everything she values in her life.

This is the fourth book in a series that, when it comes down to it, I'm not entirely sure why I keep reading. The concept - that demons are beings from another dimension that can inhabit, legally or illegally, depending on the situation, human "hosts," giving them exceptional strength and healing abilities - is an interesting one, it is true. The fact that the heroine, Morgan Kingsley, is an exorcist, yet she is also hosting the king of the demons, is also interesting.

And I guess that's why I've kept reading - even though I haven't been pulled into this world as I have into, say, the fictional worlds of Mercy Thompson and Cassandra Palmer, I can't help but wonder what's going to happen next. I like that Morgan is the kind of character that wants to remain in control, and not just react to the things that happen to her. I don't like that she constantly runs off impulsively and puts herself and others into unnecessary danger. She is tough, which is good, but in this book she comes close to turning into a quivering blob of jelly when her relationship goes south. She tells us that this guy is the love of her life, etc., but I'm just not seeing why he's all that important to her. I don't feel that her life will be the worse without him, so the tension about their relationship just wasn't there for me.

I have come to like several of the secondary characters during the course of these four books - particularly Adam, the demon-hosting cop, and his lover, the former demon host but now just regularly old human (and superb cook), Dominic. Raphael and some of the other demons are developing into intriguing characters. In fact, as the plot develops it leaves me wondering what role Morgan really has to play. After all, the demon king she is hosting can move on to any other human simply through skin-to-skin contact, which would have the added bonus of giving him a host he can control 100% - which he doesn't have with Morgan - so why is he still there? Why bother involving humans in a political demon issue anyway? Why does Morgan feel bound to keep secret the fact that, when demons are exorcised, they aren't actually destroyed, as everyone thinks? I guess I thought these questions would be addressed - and maybe they will, eventually - but I find that I'm losing a bit of patience. I think if such issues were successfully addressed, I'd believe more in this world and Morgan's predicament.

These are just a few small issues I had, personally, with the series, which makes me doubt whether I'll carry on with it. There is a huge following of fans of these books, however, so the series might well become one of your favorites, too, if you give it a try. I'd love to hear what you think.

Books in the Morgan Kinsley series:
1. The Devil Inside
2. The Devil You Know
3. The Devil's Due

4. Speak of the Devil

Speak of the Devil
(#4 in the Morgan Kingsley series) by Jenna Black (Dell, 2009)

Also reviewed at:
Literary Escapism: "Yes, there’s not a lot of action since the plot takes a break from the Dougal storyline and focuses on a demon with a vendetta, but we get a lot of character interactions that tells us more about each character."
Lurv a la Mode: "The last book was a bit slow for me due to a downplay in action, and this one didn’t really improve on that. However, I felt that what we get in character development kind of offset that, too, balancing it all out."


  1. Good heavens! They are up to a 4th book already??? I gave up after I struggled through the first one. I made my husband turn to a random page - I dared him! - and said "whatever page you land on there will be sex." And it was TRUE. And he constantly makes jokes about maple syrup to this day.

    I am amazed that you have kept up this long. ;)

  2. Cat - LOL! It is one of my favorite genres, and there really are things about it that I do like. The sex always feels tacked on to me, though.

  3. I was reading this series but I stalled back on about book, um, 1. I think I had the same problems at Cat... lol

  4. Kailana - I'm starting to wonder what it says about me that the sex didn't bother me nearly as much as the things that don't make sense to me, plot-wise. :-p

  5. I have one of the books in this series but I haven't started it yet. I am curious though!

  6. Ladytink - I'll be interested to hear your thoughts when you've read it!

  7. I am an admitted prude, but the sex in this book just seemed gratuitous. Like the author wanted to write really bad fan fiction erotica but realized she could never really tell people "Yes, I'm an erotica author" and so she went the urban fantasy route and threw in some paranormal to go with the sex.

    I read this at the same time I read Personal Demons by Stacia Kane and that one had plot, humour and occasional sex. But this one fell flat to me.

  8. Cat - I agree about the gratuitous. Sometimes it actually is advancing plot and characterization, and if you took it out something would be lost. But not with these books. I'll have to give Personal Demons a try!


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