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The Devil Inside, by Jenna Black
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Dell
Published: 2007
Review Posted: 12/16/2009
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 1 out of 10

The Devil Inside, by Jenna Black

Book Review by David Roy

Have you read this book?

After reading S.J. Day's "Marked" series, something took hold of me, some kind of demonchild inside my head that kept saying "you need to read more sexy urban demon fantasy!" I felt myself dragged into White Dwarf bookstore in Vancouver. I could almost feel my ear being pulled! Lo and behold, sitting on the new arrivals shelf was Jenna Black's new book. It's the fourth in the series, so I headed back to the regular book section and found the first book in the Morgan Kingsley series. The Devil Inside introduces us to Morgan and an interesting mythos that largely ignores the religious aspects of demonology and gets right to the good stuff. Not only that, but if you think Day's books are highly sexualized, you haven't seen anything yet. Thankfully, the book is good even without the sex.

In a world where demons are quite prevalent, some of them legally possessing humans who allow themselves to be their carriers while others go around possessing people against their will, Morgan Kingsley is an exorcist. It's her job to cast out the illegal demons once they've been captured. She's also quite good at it. Whatever the case, demons are always the dominant force inside any possessed body. So why is it that the demon inside her can only talk to her instead of controlling her? And why is he the cause of multiple people and demons trying to kill her? And why is he just so damned sexy that even talking to him turns her on? If she manages to fend off those who would like to burn her at the stake, she might find out the answers to all of those questions, including why she's now involved in a battle amongst the hierarchy of demons for total control of the demon realm. All in a day's work.

There are definitely some uncomfortable bits in The Devil Inside, even if you don't mind explicit sex in your books (and there is definitely some of that!) Morgan finds herself thrust into the world of demon S&M, a world where any manner of abuse can be tolerated because the demons inhabiting the human bodies can heal them quite quickly. In fact, the tone of the book is quite dark, despite Morgan's occasional quips to the contrary. It's still a fun book, though, especially when the demon inside Morgan is trying to convince her that he is real and not just a figment of her over-worked imagination.

What really makes the book stand out, though, is the characters. There's Morgan herself, telling the story in first person. There's also Adam, the demon police officer who Morgan hates (she hates all demons) but who she has to enlist to help her when it becomes obvious that there is a demon inside her, especially when it comes to light exactly what her demon was trying to do to transform demon society. Finally, there's Dominic, who isn't quite as well done, though he certainly has his good qualities. I found that he went back and forth between hating Morgan and being accommodating too quickly and easily, given some of the things that happen between them. I do hope he continues in the series, though. If he does so, maybe it will make a bit more sense.

I do love the world Black has created, though. There are societies dedicated to helping and hosting the "friendly" demons, and then there are a few radical religious groups who will do everything in their power to keep the demons off this earth. Meanwhile, there are just regular people who may not want demons to inhabit them but are accepting of them being hosted by others. Adam has moved up in the Philadelphia police force, for example, though his main job is to go after the illegal demons around the city. Exorcists make a living from getting rid of the illegal ones once they've been captured. As the book goes on, Morgan finds out that this isn't as complete a process as she had always believed, though.

I have no idea if "sexy demon urban fantasy" is becoming a sub-genre of its own or not, but The Devil Inside is a great example of it. Black's prose, while not powerful, certainly keeps the book moving at a brisk pace, keeping the reader interested in the situations that she's putting Morgan through and making us want to find out more about this world that she has created. It's serviceable, but nothing more. However, it's a great book to read as long as you don't find the sex and S&M uncomfortable. Thankfully, since Black pretty much leaves religion at the door, there's no need to worry about having your religious faith offended like there is in Day's "Marked" books. Instead, you just have a rollicking fun ride through a world full of demons. What could be better?

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