This Recommended Read comes from Melanie Squires, who has joined us this week on Work Experience, and who has become lost in the horrific and dangerous world of imagination and magic that is Demon Collector by Jon Mayhew.
Jon Mayhew’s first book- Mortlock– was how I came to know his work. His horror genre and dark style were what caught my attention. As per usual, I was seemingly “without something to read”, which had always been my excuse to go looking for more material to lay my hands upon.
I had known about The Demon Collector for a while, but with too little money and too little thought towards the subject, it had all but been forgotten to me. Therefore, seeing it on the shelf in the book shop, my curiosity for its contents and the desire to own it were sparked up again, and any attempts to buy anything else were futile.
Edgy Taylor is a young, poor, orphan boy who has no company but that of a little dog, Henry, and a most unusual man- if he can be called a man at all- his cruel master, the Demon, even if Edgy himself is the only one who can see it. One cruel and cold night, he is barely saved from his clutches by the mysterious old man, who is known to the Demons as “The Stonemason”. He takes Edgy away from his home and to the Royal Society of Daemonologie, where there is an oddity behind every door. A young girl, who is most dead, resents him for taking her room. An Imp mistakes him for another young boy who had worked there, and who Edgy believes he might have watched die.
With so many questions about himself and the Society unanswered, Edgy travels to the Arctic Circle, where he faces unknown terrors and a very possible death. With Demons willing to kill him and Society members unwilling to save him, how can he possibly survive? And will he ever know who he is, even if he is no one at all?
This tale is filled with dark reality of Victorian England- the description really takes you back to that terrible time and shocks you with the ill fates of Edgy Taylor and other children like him. It is never dull and every new turn of the page makes you want to read on. Jon Mayhew, yet again, shows his fine ability to scare you while keeping you on the edge of your seat with interest.
As well as simply being a good read, it does spark the imagination and questions the moral and religious beliefs we still have even today. Are Demons truly evil, or is it just the selfish nature of human beings to believe anything that could hurt them to be against all that is good? What is it that makes us any better than the Demons in our religions and mythologies?
Personally, I could not help but think about these characters and this fantastic idea- an organisation which deals with the supernatural and the unusual in Victorian London. It was just an amazing concept and learning the “ins and outs” of the Society was one of many things that kept me reading. You could really feel the characters’ fear as they faced will all sorts of danger, even if their personalities were not as deep as I have experienced in other novels.
All in all, The Demon Collector is a terrifying tale which holds your imagination hostage and drags it through a thousand adventures with horrors not just in the world of Demons and Hell, but also with the reality of Victorian London. It would be shameful to not recommend it.