Review: “A Demon’s Duty,” Katherine Kim

Pros: Some interesting worldbuilding and obvious talent
Cons: Needs work in a number of areas
Rating: 3 out of 5

A Demon’s Duty (The Demon Guardian Trilogy Book 1) by Katherine Kim is about a demon named Michael who’s been hiding behind a glamour of humanity in the human world. He never liked the endless political and deadly machinations of the demon world, so he fled when his brother tried to kill him. He’d much prefer to study alchemy, read, and just relax when possible. That last one is made impossible when he stumbles across the aftermath of a battle between a Temple Priestess, her Guardians, and a pack of Hellhounds. After finishing off what’s left of the unusually massive hounds, he ends up taking on the magical vow of a Guardian and promising to protect May, the Priestess. There is no precedent for what’s happening, and May has no idea whether she can trust him or not.

These books show definite talent, and I believe that everything I disliked about them is something that can be fixed with time, practice, and a good critique group. This is why even though I don’t love the books, I read and will review all three.

There are some spelling and grammar problems, missing words, misused words, its/it’s confusion, etc. Mostly it looks like errors that would be caught by a good editor but not by an automatic spell-checker.

There’s a cut to a flashback that was awkward and confusing. It’s also weird that the book starts after one of the main points of action has ended. The great thing about a beginning is that you can deliberately start it in the middle of the action if you’re publishing in a genre that makes sense for. That would have made much more sense here. Instead the opening is extremely talky and sluggish and acts as an extended info-dump. I made it about a third of the way through the book before it felt like anything much happened.

Kim does a good job of using some fairly simple worldbuilding to create an interesting backdrop. She also neatly portrays Michael’s separation from humanity and the confusion he feels around people.

May does come across as too stupid a couple of times. In particular she spends much too long jumping to half-founded conclusions about Michael. It made me want to shake her a bit, and Kim goes to too great a length twisting things up to make her concerns seem legitimate, keeping them apart as teammates artificially.

It probably sounds like I should have rated this lower, but I meant it when I said I can see skill and talent here. I’d like to see more despite the flaws.

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