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Review: The Demon Catchers of Milan

September 10, 2012

Title: The Demon Catchers of Milan
Author: Kat Beyer
Publisher: Egmont USA
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Format: eBook from Netgalley

Mia’s ordinary life is disrupted in the most horrifying way possible when she is possessed by a hungry and powerful demon—and only saved by the arrival of relatives from Italy, the country her grandfather fled many decades ago. Now her cousins Emilio and Giuliano say the only way to keep her safe is for her to come back with them to Milan, to live, to learn Italian, to fall in and out of love, and to master the family trade: fighting all demons with the lore of bell, book, and candle. Milan is not what Mia expected, but it will change her forever, in this stunningly well-written novel about an American girl who, fleeing an ancient evil, finds her only salvation in her ancestral home.—Goodreads

This is not your typical YA novel.

The pacing, the character development, the themes, the events—everything about this book is languorous and leisurely. Which is interesting on two counts: 1) it’s about demon possession, which isn’t a topic typically associated with the word leisure, and 2) it’s set in Milan, a city that is famous for it’s slower-than-most-21st century places pace.

But, everything about this book works. Though the book opens with a completely creeptastic demon point-of-view, the rest of it is methodical, and deeply rooted in familial relations and self-discovery.

Again, not what I’d expect from a book about demon possession. But that’s what it’s about. It’s more of a look at a deeply loyal, incredibly respected Italian family of demon catchers—people who are not part of the Catholic church, but assist in performing exorcisms.

Though it’s a subject that is terrifying to think of, I didn’t find this book frightening. The approach is more of helping people, and the demons, so that they can both move on. Obviously that’s easier said than done, and it turns out that this particular family has a demon that is all kinds of out to get them. So much so that it possesses Mia, the American cousin of the Italian family.

So Mia moves to Italy to stay safe. The part of the book that I took issue with was how much the family kept from her. You’d think that if you’re a family of demon catchers, and a family member is possessed, you’d tell them everything you possibly could so that that person would be prepared to protect herself, if need be. But no. They insist that she study and read and learn Italian and not go outside by herself. It’s frustrating both for the character and for the reader.

But, the up-side of the isolation is that Mia deeply bonds with the rest of her family, learning to speak, cook, dress, and live as they do. And it’s in her family that she discovers who she really is and who she aspires to be.

Overall, this book is steeped in history, has enough action to keep the pace moving, but also provides a reading experience that feels like you’re slowly growing with Mia as she discovers and learns and proves herself. So, if you’re looking for a read that is methodical and a bit creepy, definitely check out The Demon Catchers of Milan.

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