Running with the Demon
Author: Terry Brooks
Series: The Word & the Void #1 (Shannara prequel series)
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Review Copy: Paperback bought new
Overall Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5
On the hottest Fourth of July weekend in decades, two men have come to Hopewell, Illinois, site of a lengthy, bitter steel strike. One is a demon, dark servant of the Void, who will use the anger and frustration of the community to attain a terrible secret goal. The other is John Ross, a Knight of the Word, a man who, while he sleeps, lives in the hell the world will become if he fails to change its course on waking. Ross has been given the ability to see the future. But does he have the power to change it? At stake is the soul of a fourteen-year-old girl mysteriously linked to both men. And the lives of the people of Hopewell. And the future of the country.
I’ve read a lot of Terry Brooks books, and before this one, it was all Shannara. This was my first experience reading a non-Shannara book of his. Or is it non-Shannara? Turns out it’s not, as the Genesis of Shannara trilogy links The Word and the Void to the Shannara world.
Running with the Demon shares a lot of similarities with Shannara, yet it is also different. The character types are basically the same. Terry Brooks tends to write books with the same basic character types, particularly the main protagonists. On one hand, you have a young, inexperienced magic user from a family of magic users who is on a journey of self-discovery, and then there’s the dark, mysterious stranger who comes into town and has a lot of secrets. Nest Freemark is similar to Shannara’s Ohmsfords, while John Ross is like the Druids of Shannara. The parallels are very obvious. I found this to be quite predictable, as Brooks rarely deviates from these kinds of characters. It’s good if you like this kind of familiarity, but for those who have read a lot of his books and want something new, you aren’t going to get it from the characters or the story.
What’s new is the setting. Instead of a fantasy setting, we have a modern day midwestern American town around Independence Day. This gives a fresh setting, though there is no traveling and exploration from Brooks’ other books.
What I liked about this book is the new setting and a sense of familiarity with his writing. Although he’s not the best at writing realistic characters, I did enjoy the story in general. I felt myself seeing the town and the action in my mind fairly well. I could get into it a bit, but I felt like I couldn’t get attached to the characters. There was a lot of foreshadowing indicating what the story’s biggest mystery was, but I must admit that I wasn’t quite guessing correctly. I wasn’t surprised when it was revealed, though.
Despite its drawbacks, I do want to see what happens in the next book, as well as see how it connects with the Shannara world. It’s a decent book with a good recommendation from me. I give it a score of 3.5 out of 5.