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Demon Theory

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  307 ratings  ·  38 reviews
A psychological tale of cinematic horror.

On Halloween night, following an unnerving phone call from his diabetic mother, Hale and six of his med school classmates return to the house where his sister disappeared years ago. While there is no sign of his mother, something is waiting for them there, and has been waiting a long time.

Written as a literary film treatment littere
Hardcover, 440 pages
Published April 27th 2006 by MacAdam/Cage (first published April 13th 2006)
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Stephen Graham Jones' Demon Theory initially seemed a hard book to rate. As a "novel," it's an experiment in form. It's much easier to read than the other (highly praised) horror experiment, House of Leaves (which I've never been able to finish). It's structure is three-panelled, with each section representing a sequel for a horror film (1970s - 1980s). Before reading this book, I was somewhat prepared -- or fortified, by watching on Netflix streaming, The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film. (I'm ...more
Sep 09, 2010 Henrik rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Henrik by: newsletter
Shelves: horror
Sorry, I just didn't like this book. That is--the first 100 pages. I decided to call it quits, and go for other books waiting for me. I did consider rating it 2 stars, but seeing that 2 stars here on GoodReads means "It was OK," well, I just couldn't.

Those who have read my other reviews here on GoodReads will know that I rarely, if ever, stop reading a book before finishing it, and that I rarely, if ever, rate a book 1 star. The latter is to me especially troublesome, since I haven't read all of
Take every slasher horror convention you've ever seen on screen and deconstruct it on the page, with characters who are somewhat aware that they are part of the genre. The book is at once familiar and wholly original. It's sort of the literary equivalent of Scream (in its time, anyway). Told as a trilogy, each "part" actually reads like a movie sequel (except that the third part is the best of the three). At first I thought some of the dialogue was a bit stale, but it's totally in service to the ...more
Simon West-bulford
I was very close to rating this as 4 star. In the end I settled for 5, but one particular aspect drove me crazy and nearly made me cut that final star. And it's a silly aspect, I admit, but it did spoil an otherwise excellent read for me. When I read a book - I. Must. Have. Chapters. I go slightly insane if the book doesn't say, "okay, put me down for a bit". But that's just my weird OCD. Pay no attention!

But the overall concept? This book is amazing. The narrative is incredibly unique, and the
Jesse Bullington
A postmodern, whip smart novel that manages to simultaneously be a homage to literally hundreds of horror films while still maintaining its own original, at times satirical, vibe. Styled as an annotated script for a trilogy of horror films (based on a doctor's true accounts, of course) the experience of reading Demon Theory is a unique one, and indispensable for horror movie aficionados who don't mind an experimental approach to fiction. Personally, I would have preferred footnotes to endnotes, ...more
(Re-posted from

The problem with loving an unconventional book is that it's so hard to find other books like it. This is the problem with me and Mark Z. Danielewski's 'House of Leaves' (which I swear I'm going to review one day...). I feel like I'm on a constant quest to find books that move in the same circles as 'House of Leaves,' and what books I do find rarely come close. Like Stephen Graham Jones' 'Demon Theory,' for example.

I had really high hopes for th
Robert Pierce
Do not expect the hand holding pulp of Stephen King or Dean Koontz with obscene amounts of character development, Jones uses horror movie archetypes. Do not expect Chuck Palahniuk's minimalist formulaic nihilism (arguably existentialism). "Demon Theory" is a unique experience.

The only book I have read that I can compare this to is "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" and the similarities end at the huge number of footnotes. The biggest challenge for me was picturing the work as a movie and using t
Jul 28, 2008 Sergio rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one who enjoys reading
Recommended to Sergio by: Amazon
Shelves: horror, fiction
One word, Terrible. First you should be aware that I am deployed and don't have much to do to pass the time. So when I got this book I received it with an open mind, and with out much else to do but read it. Having said that, it was one of the worst books I have ever read. I plowed through the first half dozen chapters until I couldn't stomach it anymore. I threw it down in disgust. I would recommend this book to anyone who thought Scarey Movie was a serious cinematic experience and who is so ob ...more
As far as plots go, this one is fairly straight forward: on Halloween, a med school student a several classmates leave a booze-soaked party to pile into a van and head into the country to check on his mother in her remote home in the woods. Let it suffice to say (as in most horror yarns) that things swiftly go awry.

If your first reaction upon reading the above was to yawn, I don't blame you; it's the sort of framework that's launched a thousand direct-to-video ships. What sets "Demon Theory" apa
Vince Liaguno
If Stephen Graham Jones’ wickedly clever Demon Theory were to ever be made into an actual film, the witty tagline might go something like this: Someone has taken his love of MLA too far. Culled from the fictional case notes of the fictional Dr. Neider at the equally imaginary Owl Creek Mental Facilities, Demon Theory is presented as a three-part novelization of the movie trilogy The Devil Inside, based on the (you guessed it) fictional best-selling novel inspired by said notes. Part literary fil ...more
There's a deep brilliance in this book. Not simply an exploration of slasher movies as well as a conglomeration of all that have come before it, this book looks at the layers of the collective unconscious that ride below these movies in a single, cohesive psychological narrative. It's a narrative that, by the end of each movie/part, the reminder of the premise underlying these stories was that much more impacting: "Part _ of a three-part novelization of the feature film trilogy The Devil Inside, ...more
This is the first book that I've ever "Not wanted to put down." The first part of this book simply sucked me in, sank it's gargoyle fangs into my neck, and wouldn't let me stop reading until I reached Part 2. After that, though, the feeling lessened.

Even if things slowed down a bit after that first portion, this is an excellent tribute/homage to all the classics--cult and otherwise--of horror films. The film nerd in me was giddy with all the references and explanations, while the book nerd in me
Orrin Grey
Probably the best thing I can say about Demon Theory is that I was barely twenty pages in before I started wishing I'd written the book myself. I don't know if Stephen Graham Jones actually invented a new approach to novel-writing here (the film-treatment-for-fictional-movies-as-novel), but it certainly feels like he did, and the footnotes not only contextualize what's happening in the story, but add another dimension to it, transform it from a simple horror story to myth-building, giving the de ...more
April (The Steadfast Reader)
I don't really know how I feel about this book. Uneasy? Irate? Exuberant?

At points I felt bitterly disappointed after Stephen Graham Jones' brilliant collection of short stories that I read first.

In one way, the most interesting part about it are the copious footnotes so packed full of pop-culture references it can make a person dizzy.

The main story(ies) are written almost as a treatment for a screenplay - or perhaps a book for a musical. I'm note sure if it's intentional or not, but there wer
Demons. A quintessential "Michael Myers/Jason Voorhees" type killer. A ghost story. A psychological whodunnit. This story takes these threads and weaves what could quite possibly the most all-encompassing horror story ever put down on paper. At first the screenplay style prose seemed daunting. In retrospect, fleshing this story out in a narrative would (oddly enough) take away from the realism of the interaction between all of the elements that make this novel unique. Writing "Demon Theory" as a ...more
Is it three novellas, or one long novel? Is it a screenplay, a transcript, or a novel? Demon Theory is a lot of things, and all of those things are good. I read the Kindle verison, which I really have to recommend because Demon Theory is packed with reference notes and on the Kindle you can quickly bounce to the note and then back to the story.
I've been having a hard time describing the plot of Demon Theory. There are med students, an old creepy house, gargoyles, drugs, childhood mysteries, gho
I wish I could split this review into 2.

I LOVED the first Part of the Book (and it can stand alone, as the book is written as a Trilogy.) I could not put down the first Horror story and read the book til 3am to finish it. So fun, and well written. After you sigh at the grand finale of this fun horror/slasher story--I recommend you stop reading.

Part 2 and Part 3... Too Many characters, Too off the wall, Too hard to follow. I couldn't understand the shifting POVs that would happen mid paragraph,
this is the retelling of the movie and, as I have not seen the movie, it was a bit tedious and almost felt like I was sitting in a theater with a commentator telling me what my eyes are seeing ensconced at my right shoulder. A horrifying story, true, but the tediousness of the "retelling" knocked my opinion down to about 3 stars. maybe a bit under 3 stars. If you like the retelling of a movie script, then this is for you. Otherwise, all the details and information surrounding the actions of the ...more
FSU Alumni
Sep 25, 2014 FSU Alumni added it
Shelves: fsu-alumni
Stephen Graham Jones (Ph.D. '98)
Jason Boog
One of the most gripping & befuddling reading experiences I had last year. And it is a great horror story too.

QUOTE: "'Ganzfeld,' Seri pronounces finally, in defeat, as if in explanation. Then talks down to them: 'It’s a German term. G-A-N-Z-feld. A documented, psychological phenomenon. When you’re deprived of sensory input for too long—say, institutionalized?—you begin to hallucinate ... see connections where there are none ... come up with theories for your personal demons, which you want
sigh. a really intriguing story that kept kicking you out because of the style. every time i thought i was fully in, comfortable and ready to flow, i would get bumped out - whether because the footnotes (which were interesting and begged to be read) were all in the back, or because i would somehow want more visual input than i was getting, despite the script treatment. this was a frustrating read all the way around. despite that, there's a really good story in here, and i'm probably going to che ...more
I really enjoyed the form in which this book was written. I would love to see anther novel written as though it were a screen play. It added so much to the visual spectrum of the story.
I also enjoyed the history, and research involved in putting this novel together. I can't imagine the amount of time involved to be able to include the footnotes that were in this book.
The footnotes read like a history of horror and suspense.

I can't wait to read more from Mr. Jones.
I was pulled into this novel from the first page. Though it doesn't read like a regular novel, that doesn't make it any less interesting or any more difficult to understand. It really painted a picture for me and I felt like I was watching a movie in my brain while I was reading it. Jones did a great job using Screenplay to tell this story and I think it really added to the "woo-woo" of it. Don't be afraid of the unfamiliar format...
I had to sit down to read the whole book at once. How the book is written like a movie happening is very original, which could make it hard for certain people to read. I enjoyed how the plot line went like a horror movie happening and I felt like I was in the movie. The characters were the average individuals that you would see in the movie. I have recommended friends to read this book out of entertainment sake.
I found the overuse of footnotes to be a distraction that didn't add much to the story, mostly being of a tangential nature. This was presented in screenplay style, which lessened the impact of the story for me, and gave it a cheesy aspect. The author tried to present the story in a unique way, but I as a reader felt that the effort failed.
I have a feeling this is a pretty good book but I don't have the patience for the writing style. It's written as a sort of psuedo-screenplay with tons of footnotes. I've killed waaaay too many brain cells during my youth to keep up with this type of writing.

Recommended for: a younger generation.
Interesting premise, screenplay-esque horror trilogy. Like all horror franchises, should have stopped after the first. It would have ranked 4.5 stars after "movie 1", we dropped to 3 after "movie 2" and 1-1.5 stars by the end. I rounded up to 2, but I am being generous.
Thomas P.
The book that belongs on every literature / slasher-film lovers shelf. The style, here, is engrossing, if not a little forgivably (eh, that a word?) confusing at times. I won't ever shield anyone from the recommendation to READ THIS FUCKING BOOK.
Teresa Marx
I think I need to find the book these movies were based on. Reading a movie complete with side commentary about where a certain POV is coming from or what other movie a scene was inspired by took away from what may have been a good story.
David Jordan

More interesting as an idea than as a novel. The footnotes were distracting and grew less interesting as the novel went on. I gave this three stars instead of two because of novelty. He had the guts to try something different.
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Stephen Graham Jones is the author of eight novels and two collections. Stephen's been a Shirley Jackson Award finalist three times, a Bram Stoker Award finalist, a Black Quill Award finalist, an International Horror Guild finalist, a Colorado Book Award Finalist, a Texas Monthly Book Selection, and has won the Texas Institute of Letters Award for Fiction and the Independent Publishers Award for M ...more
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