Reed's Reviews > Pandemonium

Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory
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's review
Jan 14, 2010

really liked it
Read from February 05 to 13, 2010

Not sure I have much to add to the party when it comes to Daryl Gregory's Pandemonium. It was nominated for a World Fantasy award--well-derserved in my opinion. Apparently there was quite a buzz about the novel when it was released. Guess I was sleeping or something, because I don't recall reading about it until recently.

In any case, I'm certainly glad that I finally read Gregory's debut novel. Gregory creates a world much like our own, with one particular twist: demonic possession is real, is accepted, and is relatively common. Many of the demons have become known entities with followings and have distinct personalities, such as the Truth, The Little Angel, the Painter, and so on.

The narrator is a man named Del, who is dealing with his own possession as a child by the demon known as the Hellion (picture a demonic Dennis the Menace with a deadly slingshot). Del has never managed to get a grip on his life since the possession, bouncing through life with no direction or motivation. He comes home to deal with his issues, allowing Gregory to create a story that illustrates how such a world would shake up the family dynamic.

Gregory's prose is well-wrought, his pacing is good, and his story was much better than I anticipated. I went in suspecting a demon-filled urban fantasy type novel, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a more literary well-constructed tale. I hate to compare him to other authors, because I don't think he is "ripping off" those that came before, but there are elements of writers such as P.K. Dick, Stephen King, and Graham Joyce. This is not a fantasy novel with literary elements, but a novel with fantastical elements, if you get my distinction. As a side benefit, in this world of overblown doorstop novels, Gregory tells a rollicking good story in less than 300 pages. Must be his short story background.

Good stuff. Wish I'd read it sooner. What more is there to say?

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