Book Review – Running with the Demon

Back in the beginning of January, I started a book from best-selling author Terry Brooks. I’ve been done for a little while now but I’m just now getting around to writing a review.

Terry is known for his Shannara Chronicles, but this first book in the trilogy, The Word and The Void, was a little different. This was the fourth novel I’ve read from Terry, having read three of the books in the original Shannara series — The First King of Shannara, The Sword of Shannara, and The Elfstones of Shannara. SERIES SPOILER ALERT — skip this part if you don’t want to know this — but The Word and The Void are the first books chronologically in the series, a precursor to what happened before the world of Shannara existed.

Running with the Demon was first published back in 1997, so it has over 20 years of age on it. I wouldn’t consider this fantasy as much as more speculative fiction. What’s different about this novel is that it happens in modern times. The main protagonist, a young girl by the name of Nest Freemark, has a secret. This secret is that the women in her family for generations have been the recipients of the gift of magic. But with Nest, it’s different. There’s something lurking underneath the why of her gift. It’s something her grandmother refuses to discuss with her. It’s something her mother can’t tell her since she killed herself years ago. At least that’s what she has been told. Even that has a shroud of mystery behind it.

All of it is frustrating to Nest. She just wants to be a typical 14-year-old girl. She wants to hang out with her friends and not have to worry about this “gift”, which to her is anything but. It’s more of a burden. She doesn’t want to have this so-called blessing, that on its lowest level, enables her to see the feeders, dark entities who thrive on human pain, suffering, and death.

The fact that I wanted to read another book by Terry Brooks is a good sign, unlike some authors whose books I will never pick up after just one novel (John Saul comes to mind). Knowing what I know now, and understanding that the whole series has now come to its final conclusion, if I wanted to I could just go through and read all of the books in the proper order.

For this book, I did something I’ve never done before when reading a novel. I have the paperback which is in pretty good condition. However, for a little over half of this book, I read it on my Kindle. The reason was so I wouldn’t disturb my wife at night with the light on in bed. With my Kindle, I can read in the dark. That did a couple of things. It kept my paperback version in tip-top shape, and it didn’t add any stress in my marriage (always a good thing).

The book starts off well, but the pacing is moderate to slow. If you don’t have the patience to read through the buildup, this book probably won’t be for you. What’s good is that Terry Brooks is a decent writer to hold your attention just enough to press through those sections of the book which focus on building characterization. Now, I must say that there were several times when he started describing the sky and the outdoor setting where I just wanted to skip and tune out. However, I’m OCD in that regard so I read through it. I’ve never been a fan of waxing poetic in prose too long on those kinds of things. I like to keep them short and sweet because I’m more interested in the characters than the setting. This is something he does several times which for me became a tad long in the tooth.

Overall, I feel the book probably could have been shorter because of that. It didn’t have to be as long. It didn’t exactly make the book worse. It just didn’t make it any better.

Even so, the ending on this has a twist to it I believe some people may enjoy. There are actually a couple different twists, little pricks of interest that hook you so you will keep plowing right into the story.

Let me admit now that I am not a fan of books where the main protagonist is not an adult. I’m not into teen books so much since my experience with them have been, “Meh”. However, if the story is compelling enough, I will wade through the pages, as I did with this book. I’m also not a fan where all the men are portrayed as secondary and weak. There’s a glimmer of this in this book as even one of the main protagonist, John Ross, is kind of pitiful. Part of this has to do with the way magic works in Brooks’s world. Yet these laws don’t seem to apply to the women who wield magic. I’m not a fan of that kind of bias which seems to run rampant in modern-day fiction. I like balance. It also didn’t help that Nest’s grandmother is an unlikable character. Not a fan.

I gave this book 2-stars on Goodreads because it was okay, which is what two stars represent. The writing carried it more than the story did. For my own rating system, the classic A through F, I gave it a C. I’m on the fence on whether or not I should continue the series since it’s a trilogy, and I do have the second book, A Knight of the Word. However, it appears as if it has slightly better reviews than the first book so it’s a possibility I may grab it up after a small detour with another book.

Have you read this book. What did you think? Leave your comments below.

Until next time, I’ll see you in the Tapestry!

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