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How did you interpret the ending in The Demonologist?

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Paula Cappa I loved this book but I did have mixed feelings about the ending. It seemed to lack some emotional lift for me. But I could live with that. What was puzzling to me was that last line ... SPOILER ALERT! STOP HERE if you didn't read the book and don't want to know the ending.

That last line that David "believes." What else could David believe in but demons, especially when Tess smells like a demon ... "chalky phantoms ... the fog." I closed the book wondering if this was all happening inside his head, a psychological torment (a dramatic fantasy) fueled by his depression and the ending of his marriage, and the desire to believe in something. Maybe none of this happened, much like an allegory that Paradise Lost is.

Did the author intend to leave it vague so the reader could speculate?

Sydne I think it really was Tess or he was just in shock and imagined the whole thing.

Seek I read this as an extension of what O'Brien told David to do/about Tess. When (as she died), she said, "She's holding on. But it...hurts. She--[..]--needs you to believe too."

So it is Tess, and I didn't think it was a fantasy. However, I did think it was sort of ironic in a meta-story way, as we do have an account--the personalised one--of David's experiences.

Darlene The way that I read the book was -here was David his marriage is over best friend who he really loves is dieing all he has his daughter Tess. They go to Paris so that he can witness something never before seen. Now he os on a fight or his life between good an evil. God and the Devil. Pretty much what we face each day. But is This in his mind playing out or in reality. The Demonoligist makes you wonder if and think ...... I personally thought that this book was awesome would like to see it made into a movie.

message 5: by Michelle (last edited Mar 29, 2013 03:24PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Michelle Basically I thought the ending went like this: David has to choose between good and evil. He chooses good, and God sends his dead friend back as an angel to save the day (deus ex machina, anyone?). His reward is the return of Tess, and the message is "love conquers all". He needed to believe in order to make the right choice. I thought it was pretty crappy.

Sydne Michelle wrote: "Basically I thought the ending went like this: David has to choose between good and evil. He chooses good, and God sends his dead friend back as an angel to save the day (deus ex machina, anyone?)...."
Pretty much what I thought

September Christina Michelle wrote: "Basically I thought the ending went like this: David has to choose between good and evil. He chooses good, and God sends his dead friend back as an angel to save the day (deus ex machina, anyone?)...."

This is exactly how I saw it...I felt maybe I was mistaken or it could have been interpreted differently because it seemed so simple but I guess I'll stick with this ..

Michelle I really didn't get the sense that there was anything 'meta' or psychological/imagined about this story. Besides David's journey paralleling Paradise Lost in some ways.

September Christina Michelle wrote: "I really didn't get the sense that there was anything 'meta' or psychological/imagined about this story. Besides David's journey paralleling Paradise Lost in some ways."

Really? I kept going back and forth in my mind that he might have imagined it all...That in the end, what if he went crazy about his daughter's death. I wasn't very sure about it really till it was all over.

Michelle September wrote: "Michelle wrote: "I really didn't get the sense that there was anything 'meta' or psychological/imagined about this story. Besides David's journey paralleling Paradise Lost in some ways."

Really? I..."

Interesting. I guess every reader's experience is different :) But yeah I just took everything as straight-forward.

Elena I also took everything as straight-forward, which is why I was pretty disappointed how "straight-forward" it all was! All these random clues were so simple to follow, everything (even when it seemed like it wouldn't) went David's way, and at the end - out of nowhere, David's dead friend leads him to his daughter. I was a little confused - was that all there was to it?! After the whole cross country trek, you were no closer to finding your daughter and wouldn't have found her had your sick friend not died and came back as an angel (?) to help you ?!

Shawn Spjut I found the ending as macabre as the beginning. The lines between reality and insanity are always blurred...and who knows which is real. I think that Pyper left you wondering is really the best ending possible.

Scott I thought the ending was awful, but I took it at face value. His angel friend brought his daughter back, just like that. I did have the thought that David's quest was nothing more than madness as the clues became more and more ridiculous, but sadly I think it is all meant to have happened just as it says.

Jason My interpretation of the ending.

Tess's appearance was the final effort of Belial to get David over to his side.

David just moments before when involved with his confrontation with Belial states that he doesn't believe Belial has the power to bring Tess to him.

In the train, Belial gives Tess to David, who then declares "I believe", he therefore sides with Belial since he offers him Tess (in whatever form is irrelevant to David, he only wants his daugher).

Good does not win in the closing lines, but evil.

message 15: by Bru (last edited Apr 20, 2015 03:42PM) (new)

Bru The ending to me was very straight forward as was everything in the book. I'm not sure why people have such a problem with this character and this book.


Final section of the book is entitled "Through Eden." A reference to the opening pages where David is lecturing his class on Adam and Eve being cast out "To wander alone." The real fruit of original sin..solitude of self-consciousness. To lose sight of God.

Then Tess is speaking to him in his mind. Helping him when she can. As is the recently departed Elaine O'Brian. There are references in the book that David has had peculiar encounters throughout his life. The reason the guy on the plane not leaving the washroom doesn't phase him. He is aware of his own dark companion / world which his daughter is far more sensitive to. She refers to it as his "Black Crown" in her diary.

There is the mad rush back to NY to get the contents of his safe deposit box and meetup with Belial the demon where he used to rendezvous with O'Brian for drinks. He states then, "The 'clues' were never clues, the 'trail' only a wandering of my own making. The demon, if it was ever real at all, merely delighted in watching me run around in this continental circle." Doubt enters in and with another quote from Milton.."So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear."

Unsure if Grand Central is his final destination he turns to see Belial which is appropriate since this demon has always been running the show (or so he thinks..because this is also kick-ass and take names O'Brian's territory). Belial admits he has been testing David to see if he can make him his pawn on Earth. "You cannot know how long I have waited for someone like you. Others have come close but lacked the strength to endure. But you, David are a man of uncommon commitment. A true disciple."

Without finding pages in the book, there are many passages explaining how this whole Demon thing works. They exist in an area between mortal and god. They therefore are not here with the power to squash you like a bug. Instead they must torment and cajole God's creations to follow them down the path of darkness so these disciples can turn their backs on the Creator. But the choice must be made of free will or it doesn't work.

"Let me in." says Belial. And then David is quoting Milton like crazy as a defense against him. But the demon relents by twisting Milton's words to his own liking. This doesn't work on David the academic. He has no tolerance for "C+" students so David begins to walk away. ("Is that question going to be on the exam?" can you not like this stuff?). The demon vs. a pedagog. I've had students worse than this guy (my words).

David falters only for a moment until he sees, "standing beneath the gold clock...the tall athletic Connecticut girl who never stopped, in her brainy, teasing, A-type way, being the tall athletic Connecticut girl." O'Brian! which David follows.

I have to wrap this up. The "Thin Woman" is the demon's henchman. She stinks of "The animal smell of the barnyard. The mold of wet straw." We learn later that Tess has some of that scent on her, because obviously the Thin Woman was holding her captive until her boss Belial sealed the deal for David's soul. The Thin Woman momentarily takes the guise of O'Brian to direct David back to the demon. "They hand in hand with wand'ring steps and slow," the Thin Woman recites, Through Eden took their solitary way." ..away from the face of God. And then the real O'Brian catching his eye again.."Love the outfit, Professor." David says, "Elaine, Jesus Christ." to which she replies,"What, is he here too?" She admits she is an Angel and she tells him, "You were tested and you passed, David."

David is reunited with his daughter on the train which O'Brian set up when the Thin Woman lost Tess trying to distract David. They acknowledge they are both real, and David's lack of belief in Heaven and Hell is finally gone. Swell of music, curtains close. Let's hope Hollywood doesn't screw it up too awfully. Great story, happy ending. The way I like it.

Douglas Hello,

I just read the book and this ending take me to two line endings.... I hope you guys could help me.

The first:
When Elaine and David reach to the cabin in canada, after she got killed and he starts fight with the stalker, he has his thumb cutted, after he go to the van he pass out and dies over there....

Second one:
Everything that hapens is true but the thing that he thinks is his daughter is not her anymore, It's Belial pretending so, taking him to his cruzade...

Sorry for my english folks, I'm Brazilian

message 17: by Bru (last edited Jul 10, 2015 07:18AM) (new)

Bru Douglas, that's very creative, but I think you are reading too much into it. Writers of all types have one common interest. To communicate clearly in writing so there are no questions about what is happening. If they fail at that they haven't succeeded in what they set out to accomplish. I had an English instructor say to me once, " Don't say 'It's precipitating prodigiously, say it's raining like hell!'" Communicate your ideas clearly or your audience will be lost.

You undoubtedly have a very strong creative streak in you. You should put it to use writing a novel.

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Honestly? When I read the "The End" (in latin) I thought, Ok, now it will start the finishing chapter... That is how lost I was!

And disappointed.

I felt the build up didn't deliver a climax it just sort of fade away in "well, that was all folks".

Junior Reinoso The first tought when I was reading the last pages was that O'Brien was an angel watching over David's action and that the Belial's temptation was just a test from God. But then when she said that she could see now that he always did the right thing, my theory changed a little.
I actually have three interpretations and I really can't choose between one of them: My first one is that everything was a test and when David choosed God's side, he passed the test and God made O'Brien an angel or maybe just sent her spirit to guide David through the last steps of his journey and give back his daughter soul (That I imagine was between heaven and hell, in some sort of purgatory, since Belial couldn't take her soul until the New Moon's rise).

My second one is that O'Brien's appearance was a last temptation Belial made to try get David (Actually I really tought that it would be O'Brien instead of David's father under the clock in the station. I was really expecting that and was totally disappointed), and when David believied that, Belial got David's soul and when David meets his daughter in the train, he's actually in that purgatory meeting Tess's soul, especially when she asks if he would still be there.

My third theory is that when David is called to Venice to investigate that phenomenon, he sees what is like a "normal" possession case, but when he returns to the hotel, Tess, who finally loses the war against her melancholy ends up killing herself, jumping off the roof. And then David loses his senses. He goes insane and begins to create a new sense of reality, starts to believe that a demon took his daughter, he refuses to believe that she is really dead. He begins an pursuit against his own "demons" inside his mind, until he finally confronts his biggest trauma, his brother's death, that he now, feeling threatened by imaginary demons, starts to realize that was murdered by his father. The pursuer is a creation of his own mind, some sort a schizophrenic feature of his insanity. When O'Brien joins him in his journey, she is too a creation of his mind, some sort of anchor that he create to stay sane, but it was too late. When he meets his daughter in the train, is when his minds reaches a point of no return.
Well, this is definitely an insane theory but that's one of my toughts about it.

The ending is really confusing, and now that I searched about it, I found out that it wasn't confusing just for me but to a lot of people too. I think this was the intention of Andrew Pyper and probably this is the feature that made this book achieve the success it did. Besides, I think that's what I loved most about it. The writing is excellent, the references to Milton's work are awesome too, the development is a bit poor, we can't really see the course of actions, but I think it's for the best, since we don't need to see an detailed report of their daily actions but the story in particular. This ending really makes you rethink the entire reading, I think I couldn't read this book again in the next few years knowing this ending. Maybe when I re-read it I'll have a better understanding of the ending. But I really loved it! There's no doubt this was one of the better books I read my entire life

Junior Reinoso Douglas wrote: "Hello,

I just read the book and this ending take me to two line endings.... I hope you guys could help me.

The first:
When Elaine and David reach to the cabin in canada, after she got killed and ..."

I thought of him dying in the van too, but that would be a really dumb way of closure.

Also, your english is fine

PS: I'm brazilian too, don't tell anybody shh..!

message 21: by Kelly (last edited May 23, 2016 05:16PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kelly É tão clichê que ficamos na dúvida sobre a real intenção deste final sem sentido! Realmente, após uma narrativa cansativa sobre uma pessoa com muito azar é testada como na bíblia e o final todos já sabem. Ele ficou do lado do bem, apesar da vida horrível que teve, e recebeu a recompensa. Sim, é igual a bíblia, mas com um título intrigante, uma capa estilizada e um poeta renomado dá nisto...

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