The Daemoniacby Kat Ross
Series: A Dominion Mystery #1
Published on October 12, 2016 by Acorn Publishing
Genres: Historical, Mystery, Young Adult
It's August of 1888, just three weeks before Jack the Ripper will begin his grisly spree in the London slum of Whitechapel, and another serial murderer is stalking the gas-lit streets of New York. With taunting messages in backwards Latin left at the crime scenes and even more inexplicable clues like the fingerprints that appear to have been burned into one victim's throat, his handiwork bears all the hallmarks of a demonic possession.
But consulting detective Harrison Fearing Pell is convinced her quarry is a man of flesh and blood. Encouraged by her uncle, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry hopes to make her reputation by solving the bizarre case before the man the press has dubbed Mr. Hyde strikes again.
From the squalor of the Five Points to the high-class gambling dens of the Tenderloin and the glittering mansions of Fifth Avenue, Harry and her best friend, John Weston, follow the trail of a remorseless killer, uncovering a few embarrassing secrets of New York's richest High Society families along the way. Are the murders a case of black magic—or simple blackmail? And will the trail lead them closer to home than they ever imagined?
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A month ago I walked the streets of London during the era of Jack the Ripper in Stalking Jack the Ripper. Now, a few months before the killings begin across the pond, I’ve entered New York City with Harrison “Harry” Pell and a supernaturally inclined murder fest.
I’ve found I quite enjoy tales of strong heroines solving mysteries, whether they’re some type of Sherlock spin-off or something new, so I grew excited about The Daemoniac. I enjoyed The Midnight Sea by Kat Ross and, despite the different genres, jumped at the chance to read this one. While I enjoyed some aspects of this novel, there were others that ultimately sealed my opinion.
For the first quarter of the book, I was constantly putting it aside for others. I spent weeks reading it when a book this size would take me a few hours normally. I thought it was me at first — I just wasn’t in the right state of mind to read it. Happens all the time and I wait a while and come back to it later. But I soon realized that while the story beneath was interesting, the actual writing drove me away. It’s good, well-formed, just very detailed and a bit dry because of it. The author clearly did her research and I appreciated that but it made what may have been a riveting mystery to keep you on the edge of your seat into the book you read when you have nothing else.
I enjoyed the mystery, for the most part. There’s a supernatural element to it that adds the question of whether it truly is not of this world or we’re all being tricked. But I’m not sure if I’m particularly happy with the end result of said mystery. Going into this book, I was expecting more paranormal aspects and it seemed to take a turn toward the opposite in this one.
As for Harry, she was a fun heroine, jumping into her sister’s shoes to solve the case. Having been left in the shadows of her sister’s famous cases (a regular Sherlock, that one), I understood her need to do something on her own. She’s intelligent and resourceful, and certainly a good detective, but I never quite connected with her. Throughout there were several moments where Harry would go in-depth on the history of an event or a place or whatever was going on but they weren’t very well timed because it sucked me right out of the action and her head. And the rest of the cast didn’t really leave a mark with me either. They were well written, just… lacking something I can’t quite put my finger on.
The biggest fault in this book lies with me as a reader and having read SJTR prior to this one. If it had been reversed I may have thrown myself into The Daemoniac a little harder but, as it is, I can’t say the two quite compare. I do recommend this book to fans of SJTR though, or anyone looking for a good historical mystery with a supernatural-esque twist.