Thursday 23 September 2010

Review: Demon Games (Changeling) by Steve Feasey

Teenage werewolf Trey is facing the most important and dangerous mission of his life. He must journey into the dark Netherworld and rescue Alexa, daughter of his vampire guardian Lucien, who is being held hostage by a powerful demon lord. But strength and courage alone are not enough to succeed – instead Trey must ‘win’ both their freedoms by participating in a death-match against his deadliest nemesis yet. The forces of evil are stacked against him and Trey can only be certain of one thing . . . one of them WILL die.

Even though it has only been five months since I read the first three books in the Changeling series (pretty much back-to-back as I was playing catch up), it feels like much longer. I wrote a review at the time in which I stated that I was really looking forward to seeing what happened to Trey, Alexa et al next, and this sense of anticipation was heightened even further by the interview that Steve very kindly did for The Book Zone. It was with no small amount of excitement then that I came home from work recently to find a package from Macmillan waiting for me - Demon Games had finally arrived.

The thing I like most about Steve Feasey's writing is that he manages to make  every book seem fresh - even though each one is a continuation of a story, he skilfully alters the tone for each new episode. The first book was very much about Trey discovering that he is not a normal boy; Dark Moon saw him gradually coming to terms with his powers, and developing them to the point where he was able to use them in combat, albeit still somewhat reluctantly. And then along came Blood Wolf, a book that was far more about Trey's feelings and his character than the previous two episodes had been; yes, there were other events happening involving Alexa, Philippa and Lucien, but exciting though they were, as a reader I fraced through these scenes to get back to the story of Trey in Canada. With Demon Games Steve Feasey yet again allows his writing to take a different direction - this book is all about bringing the various plot strands together to set us up for a (hopefully) mind-blowing finale in the final book in the series, Zombie Dawn

Demon Games sees Trey entering the Netherworld proper for the first time in the series. Whilst he was soul-searching in Canada things went pretty badly for his friends back home, and Alexa has now ventured into this land of demons on a mission of her own. Trey, who is finally admitting his feelings for Alexa (to himself at least), realises that the only option is for him to launch his own rescue mission and follow her into the unknown, especially as Lucien is currently AWOL. As such the story is a little more fragmented than previously, as the point of view jumps between the stories of the different characters, from Trey to Philippa, then on to Lucien, Alexa or Caliban and back again, but this jumping around adds to the excitement I felt as a reader as many of the chapters end on a cliffhanger for one character, and we don't necessarily get to discover the resolution of this moment of tension until a chapter or two later. By using this method of telling his story Steve Feasey manages to keep the tension levels are almost inbearable levels, and the reader fully interested in every character's story, and not just Trey's.

Having the whole story set in the Netherworld also allows Steve Feasey to let his imagination run riot, with vivid descriptions of landscapes, cities and inhabitants, and it is this latter category where he really lets rip - there are more demons and nether-creatures in this book that any of its predecessors, and most of them are pretty nasty. The Demon Games of the title are an event that Trey find himself competing in (I will leave you guessing as to the prize if he winds), and I have a feeling that the author had a great deal of fun in writing these scenes.

Like all great 'penultimate book in a series' books Steve Feasey leaves some tantalising loose ends to keep us hungry for the final episode, and judging by the final revelations in Demon Games, and the amazing cover for Zombie Dawn, I think Changeling fans are in for one hell of a treat with the next book as well. Steve also has a growing legion of fans in the US, where the first book in the series was released as Wereling back in April, and Dark Moon scheduled to be published in February 2011. I feel a little sorry for American fans of the series that they are so far behind us UK readers, but please believe me US readers of The Book Zone - the wait is more than worth it.

Demon Games is available to buy right now and my thanks go to Macmillan for providing me with a copy to review. I love this 'job'!

(That's book two finished in the R.I.P. Challenge)


  1. That's quite the cover! I haven't even heard of the series before.

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