The Demon Left Behind by Marie Jakober — book review

The Demon Left Behind by Marie Jakober. Edge $14.95

Reviewed by Rhian Bowley

Imagine that demons exist, not in some hell dimension but here on Earth, alongside us. Not as evil, scaly things, but as non-corporeal spirits with a ‘Prime Directive’ which stops them from interfering with humans. Usually. This is the set-up for Marie Jakober’s latest novel: a demon’s first-person account of a time when she got much more involved with us ‘Visibles’ than usual.

On a reconnaissance mission to gather information about our affairs, a likeable young demon has gone missing, and must be found if our heroine is ever to regain her position in society. None of the standard demon-tracking methods have worked so, in desperation, she takes on physical form and turns to a human for help. As she experiences daily life in a physical body, starting with curry and music, she begins to change the way she thinks about the world.

I wish that Wye-Wye, the missing demon so frequently referred to, had a more elegant name. But if he has fighting skills like his brethren here, fast enough to be unseen and unhampered by physical trifles like time and space, I wouldn’t tell him that to his face. The narrator is, perhaps deliberately, hard to warm to, with a tendency to over-explain, and patronisingly refers to ‘our fashion’ and ‘you Visies’. But Jakober writes some beautiful material on the nature of existence, when she discusses physical and spiritual reality with the human who is helping her. By this point her sensory explorations have taken her, naturally, from curry onto rum and into the small hours. Late-night metaphysical chats feature here more often than fighting, and the slow pacing and intellectual preoccupations make this different from much other urban fantasy.

The Demon Left Behind by Marie Jakober. Edge $14.95

Reviewed by Rhian Bowley

Imagine that demons exist, not in some hell dimension but here on Earth, alongside us. Not as evil, scaly things, but as non-corporeal spirits with a ‘Prime Directive’ which stops them from interfering with humans. Usually. This is the set-up for Marie Jakober’s latest novel: a demon’s first-person account of a time when she got much more involved with us ‘Visibles’ than usual.

On a reconnaissance mission to gather information about our affairs, a likeable young demon has gone missing, and must be found if our heroine is ever to regain her position in society. None of the standard demon-tracking methods have worked so, in desperation, she takes on physical form and turns to a human for help. As she experiences daily life in a physical body, starting with curry and music, she begins to change the way she thinks about the world.

I wish that Wye-Wye, the missing demon so frequently referred to, had a more elegant name. But if he has fighting skills like his brethren here, fast enough to be unseen and unhampered by physical trifles like time and space, I wouldn’t tell him that to his face. The narrator is, perhaps deliberately, hard to warm to, with a tendency to over-explain, and patronisingly refers to ‘our fashion’ and ‘you Visies’. But Jakober writes some beautiful material on the nature of existence, when she discusses physical and spiritual reality with the human who is helping her. By this point her sensory explorations have taken her, naturally, from curry onto rum and into the small hours. Late-night metaphysical chats feature here more often than fighting, and the slow pacing and intellectual preoccupations make this different from much other urban fantasy.