Title: Mark of the Demon
Author: Diana Rowland
Series: Kara Gillian
Publication Date: June 23, 2009
Synopsis: Cop and conjurer of demons, she’s a woman in danger of losing control—to a power that could kill….
Why me? Why now? That’s what Beaulac, Louisiana, detective Kara Gillian was asking herself when an angelic creature named Rhyzkahl unexpectedly appeared during a routine summoning. Kara was hoping to use her occult skills to catch a serial killer, but never had she conjured anything like this unearthly beautiful and unspeakably powerful being whose very touch set off exquisite new dimensions of pleasure. But can she enlist his aid in helping her stop a killer who’s already claimed the lives—and souls—of thirteen people? And should she? The Symbol Man is a nightmare that the city thought had ended three years ago. Now he’s back for an encore and leaving every indication on the flesh of his victims that he, too, is well versed in demonic lore.
Kara may be the only cop on Beaulac’s small force able to stop the killer, but it is her first homicide case. Yet with Rhyzkahl haunting her dreams, and a handsome yet disapproving FBI agent dogging her waking footsteps, she may be in way over her head…
Review: This is the first book in one of my absolute favorite series. I am just re-reading it for fun and because I recently (as I am reading/reviewing not as of this post date) got approved for the eARC of the 8th book, Legacy of the Demon. It has been at least six years since I’ve read this first book and oh man the things that I forgot, how I feel about things knowing what happens in the later books, the changed the characters have gone through, and omg my love for them and this series knows no bounds.
Kara is a police detective as well as a demon summoner. (I will touch on the demons in a bit.) Kara is a really well developed character, she has been through a lot, and has worked her ass off to get to where she is both as a cop and as a summoner. She takes both of them seriously and they make up a huge part of her personality and effect a lot of things about her. She has a very strong sense of right and wrong, she has a very strong belief in the justice system, and doing good in the world. She wants to have a better impact as both a detective and as a summoner. When we meet her she’s a bit of a loner and she slowly starts to gain friends. She’s awkward with people, which can make for some amusing interactions. She didn’t have a lot of friends or relationships after she started training to be a summoner because that’s something that isn’t broadcast, it’s something summoners keep private. I just love Kara, she is seriously one of the best developed female characters I’ve read, and I just get heart eyes over here.
We meet Jill in this book, she is a forensic tech with the police department. At this point in the series she’s a semi-friend to Kara, they will later become best friends, but right now (sadly) we don’t get to see a lot of Jill. She is amazing though, trust me, you will love her. She’s a feisty little red head (trust me all us feisty little red heads are awesome, I speak from personal experience being one myself) and really brings Kara out of her shell and helps her to realize how awesome she is. She’s just an amazing character.
We are introduced to three guys who have major parts in this book. Ryan Kristoff, Zach Garner, and Rhyzkahl. Ryan and Zach are FBI agents who show up to help work on the Symbol Man case and Rhyzkahl is a Demon Lord that Kara accidentally summons. I am going withhold my opinion on them because at this point in my re-read it is still very much colored by what I know is going to happen. I will let you form your own opinions on these three men, for good or for worse, these are still some well developed characters.
Now let’s talk demons. Erase that image you have of Christianity’s demons in hell because these are not those types of demons. And there are no Angels in this series. The demons in Rowland’s series are from another … I’m going to say realm or sphere … that overlaps with ours a bit. The demons are pulled from their world to ours by a summoner who uses the arcane, opens a portal, and calls the demon. Then an agreement or bargain is made by the summoner and the demon for a deed or information or something. Once the task is accomplished the summoner sends the demon back to its home. There are restrictions on things, which you will learn in the book, Rowland has done a good job developing all of this. You learn things as Kara does since the book is from her pov and she’s still a fairly new summoner.
For me, having read all of the books, this is definitely one of the more interesting ones. I think the Symbol Man case was fascinating and how Kara used her arcane gifts along with her detective skills to solve the case was very unique in my opinion. Rowland was a cop so there is a very authentic feel to the things that happen in the books which really adds something to the series. The book kept me engaged the entire time I was reading, even the second time around. I couldn’t put the book down, I needed to know what happened, and who the Symbol Man was, and what his goal was, etc. This is the power that Rowland’s storytelling had over me, I just had to know!
This book does a good job introducing us to the world, the arcane, and to demons and how they are summoned. There is still a vast amount more to be learned but it is something that is gradually done throughout the series, we learn through Kara as she learns, otherwise it would be too much of an information dump and would detract a lot from the series. There is seriously a lot that Kara doesn’t know at the beginning of the series that she learns how to do later on. Here at the beginning we are at a good mix of urban fantasy and police procedural, this happens to be one of my favorite things. Kara is a police detective and her case, the Symbol Man, ends up having to deal a lot with the arcane and summoning, which she is the perfect detective to have on the case (not that her bosses know that).
This is a great start to an amazing series. Seriously if you are an urban fantasy fan and have not read this series, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! For real though, go get this book and read this series. I really don’t think many of you will be disappointed.