The Devil Inside

Jenna Black
2007, Urban Fantasy
Spectra, $6.99, 336 pages, Amazon ASIN 0553590448
Part of a series

Grade: B
Sensuality: Burning

The Devil Inside is Jenna Black's first urban fantasy (she also writes paranormal romance for a different publisher). The book isn't perfect, but it's good - and highly original.

Humans offer themselves up as hosts to Demons. Some demons, though, take possession of humans without their consent. This is against the law in the Morgan Kingsley series, and a sect of law enforcement officers who not only maintain the delicate interaction between demons and humans, but also exorcise those demons who possess a human against his or her will.

One of the best exorcists around is Morgan Kingsley. She is called upon to exorcise a demon in possession of a young girl. The demon is wreaking havoc on the girls' mind and body and creates an imminent danger to everyone around. The exorcism shakes Morgan up, who wonders why she was not possessed by the demon she drew out of the girl. Turns out she was protected by a demon within herself who calls himself Lugh. This should not come as a huge surprise to the reader, given the title of the book. Lugh is, of course, tall, dark, handsome, and intensely sensual. Being possessed by him makes for some intense, graphic, and emotional interactions.

Lugh is not just any demon, however, but apparently the king of demons. He informs Morgan that there will be a war between the good demons - those who ask politely to possess a human - and the bad demons (those who possess humans against their will), with each side fighting for supremacy. And so Morgan finds herself in the middle of the ensuing battle.

I really liked the new world created by Ms. Black. As this is the first in a series, a lot of worldbuilding occurs, and the setting up and describing of that world was my favorite part of the book. What worked less well was Morgan herself. The book is told entirely in her point of view, and Morgan has always been firmly against demon possession, even when the human agrees to host. She understandably does not agree with a demon possessing a human for life, essentially controlling someone's body and dictating their actions. You can see why being possessed by Lugh raises all kinds of issues for her. Given her history, I could sympathize with her. However, her reactions to this, and just about every other dilemma she faces throughout the book, exasperated me. She is not nearly as strong a heroine as I would like given what she does for a living.

Even though I thought as far as kick-assness goes, Morgan needed a bigger helping, reading the action-packed The Devil Inside was a tense and suspensful experience. Like many urban fantasies these days, the book features a strong erotic component. If S&M is a problem for you, you may want to pass this one up. As for me, I'm intrigued enough that I look forward to August, when The Devil You Know, the second book in this series, is released.

-- Keisha Hudson

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