Author: Mary Maddox
Series: Daemon World, #3
Publication date: March 8th 2022
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Horror
Our war will not unfold in your imaginary heaven. We will fight on Earth with human beings as pawns and weapons.
Lu Darlington is a seer, bound to the daemon Talion through ritual and blood. It’s not a role she enjoys, but she has little choice: daemons take what they want and destroy whoever stands in their way.
So Lu’s surprised when Talion doesn’t punish her for her newfound ability to keep him from possessing her whenever he likes. In fact he’s pleased. The stronger she is, he explains, the more powerful he becomes.
And he needs that power, because a war is brewing in the daemon world, a war that will be fought by—and through—humans.
Lu’s friend Lisa Duncan can’t see daemons but she’s seen what they can do and so has stayed far away from Lu for years. After a bizarre attack on Lisa leaves half a dozen people dead and she learns it’s just the first skirmish in the daemon war, Lisa realizes the safest place to be is with Lu.
Then Talion sends Lu away to teach her skills to another seer and Lisa must stay behind to look after Lu’s son Solly, conceived through a daemon ceremony with Talion. At four years old Solly’s seer abilities are already so strong Lisa is sometimes more afraid of Solly than for him.
As Talion’s enemies grow bolder, Lisa and Lu face attacks from every direction. There seems little hope any of them will survive—until Talion and his allies devise a plan.
The only problem is how much it will cost.
As she hands the beer to Galen, she wonders why she didn’t tell him to get it himself. Lisa realizes that she wants him to like her. She thinks, How sad for you both.
She sits on the couch, closer to him this time. “You ever hear from Adam?”
“He emails once in a while.”
“You went to his wedding?”
“Yeah.” Galen eyes her with something like pity. “I took a plane to California and stayed at his house.”
She remembers the photo in Adam’s bedroom, the other woman’s skin—velvety and luminous. Not like FrankenFace. But he loved you, Lisa reminds herself. He stayed with you all the way through. “Was the wedding nice?”
“It was a Jewish wedding. I never went to one before. Adam stepped on a wine glass, which means something or other. There was lots to drink at the reception.”
Lisa hesitates before asking, “What’s his wife like?”
“Come on, Lisa. Whatever I say is gonna make you feel like shit.”
“Not if you say she’s awful and he wishes he married me instead.” She tries for a semi-joking tone but instead sounds whiny and pathetic.
“Okay. She’s awful and he wishes he married you. Too bad you never answered his emails or texts.”
“I was in rehab.” And writing to him afterwards was just too hard.
“Adam didn’t know that. He thought you ghosted him. What else was he supposed to think?”
“I don’t know.” Her arms are folded tight across her chest with her hands cupping her elbows. A defensive pose, Sandi the therapist said. A victim’s pose. Lisa unfolds her arms and lets her hands fall into her lap. “It was a horrible time. I guess everyone wanted to forget it.”
“Adam cared about you, okay.”
“I know that. He’s the only one who ever has.”
“Don’t say that. You got your parents, don’t you? And Lu.”
And Lisa is grateful for them. Except their love isn’t the same as Adam’s love. She leans forward and picks up her beer, mostly for something to hold. She no longer wants to drink it. “Why does Talion possess you?”
“Because he needs a body to get what he wants.”
“Which is what?”
“A human connection with the kid, mostly. He wouldn’t mind a sexual relationship with Lu, but she keeps shutting him down.”
“She kissed him at the airport.”
“Yeah, she’ll put on a show for the kid.”
Lisa hesitates and then almost whispers. “He possessed me last night.”
“And made you come. He told me.”
FrankenFace transforms her blush of embarrassment into burning pain.
“It’s step one of breaking you in. Pleasure and pain, your basic conditioning.”
Lisa’s mouth is full of dust. She’s paralyzed inside, as if the daemon was a spider and she was starting to feel the effects of his poisonous bite. She looks at Galen and sees her future. “I can’t stay here.”
Galen laughs. “You think you can leave? Go ahead, try.”
Mary Maddox is a suspense, horror, and dark fantasy novelist with what The Charleston Times-Courier calls a “Ray Bradbury-like gift for deft, deep-shadowed description.” Born in Soldiers Summit, high in the mountains of Utah, Maddox graduated with honors in creative writing from Knox College, and went on to earn an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She taught writing at Eastern Illinois University and has published stories in various journals, including Yellow Silk, Farmer’s Market, The Scream Online, and Huffington Post. The Illinois Arts Council has honored her fiction with a Literary Award and an Artist’s Grant.