The Demon Catchers of Milanby Kat Beyer
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Mia’s ordinary life is disrupted for good in the most horrifying way possible when she is possessed by a hungry and powerful demon—and saved only by the arrival of relatives from Italy, the country her grandfather fled many decades ago. Now her cousins, the charming and gorgeous Emilio and stern, elderly Giuliano, say the only way to keep Mia 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 ancient lore of bell, book, and candle. Milan is not what Mia expected, but it will change her forever.
Meet the Author
Kat Beyer established herself as a fine artist before turning to fiction writing with The Demon Catchers of Milan, her debut novel. She lives with her family in, variously, Oregon, California, and Wisconsin. You can visit her online at www.katspaw.com.
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Before Milan, Mia Della Torre was the unexceptional sister compared to her smarter, prettier younger sister Gina. Before Milan Mia was the kind of girl who would check for monsters under her bed and make sure all of the doors and windows were locked each night. Now, even if Mia is afraid she knows what to do. She knows who in a house is dead and who is something else. After Milan, she might still be scared but she also knows. Mia's grandfather left Milan, and his family, behind years ago when he settled in New York. Mia knows nothing of her distant relatives or their strange livelihood until she is possessed by a demon and saved by a cousin and great uncle she has never met. Even freed from the demon, Mia still may not be safe. Not when it can come back. Suddenly Mia's normal, unexceptional life is over. She is whisked away to Milan to live with the demon catching relatives her grandfather hated--the only people who might be able to keep Mia alive. In a strange city Mia is cooped up indoors as she learns the strange language and stranger history surrounding Milan and her family. Demons, it seems, can be anywhere and her family always has to be ready. But with the threat of another possession looming, Mia isn't sure if she wants to face her fate or hide from it. Mia came to Milan for protection from the demon who wants her and to learn more about the family she never knew. Along the way, surrounded by aunts and uncles and cousins, Mia will also find confidence, a new language and even a new place to call home in The Demon Catchers of Milan (2012) by Kat Beyer. The Demon Catchers of Milan is Beyer's first book. It is also the first in a projected trilogy. Filled with interesting tidbits about Milanese culture and phrases of Italian, The Demon Catchers of Milan is part travelogue, part fantasy. After an action packed opening (complete with a possession and an exorcism!), Beyer slows things down as Mia comes to Milan and begins to acclimate to her new surroundings. There is not a lot of action in the middle of the story, something that might turn off readers expecting non-stop excitement. There are thrilling moments and the threat of Mia's demon returning is a constant throughout the story, but the bulk of the plot focuses more on Mia connecting with her family and making sense of her place both in Milan and among the demon catching Della Torres. Beyer's focus on family is refreshing. Mia is surrounded by people who love and value her. It's nice to see that kind of affection and unconditional love in a novel. It was equally pleasing to find a fantasy where the plot stays firmly focused on the heroine (and her family) instead of a messy love triangle or a star-crossed love plot. Perhaps it's because my mother's side of the family is Italian but I absolutely loved Mia and the rest of the Della Torres. The Demon Catchers of Milan is short (288 pages hardcover) but Beyer manages to fill those pages with countless well-realized and vivid characters to create a real ensemble cast. Although the pacing, particularly near the end, became frantic The Demon Catchers of Milan remains a solidly enjoyable read for anyone who enjoys fantasies with a strong heroine coming into her own. Best of all, this story is contained. There are hints of things to come in future installments but The Demon Catchers of Milan works very nicely on its own without leaving readers hanging until the trilogy is complete. Possible Pairings: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey, Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough, The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver, Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, The Archived by Victoria Schwab, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud *This book was acquired for review from the publisher at BEA 2012*
<i>The Demon Catchers of Milan</i> is a book that was more… “meh” for me. I was probably expecting a lot more action than I got, although there were some fantastic gothic elements that kept my attention. My main issue with the book was the fact that I was expecting more action, especially from the first few pages that I read. During the middle, especially when the author was describing Milanese culture or family gatherings, although it was beautiful, it didn’t hold my interest for a long time. I did read through it, although to be frank, I was a little bored. Don’t get me wrong – I loved the setting and the factors dealing with exorcism, but I did wish there was more action. However, I found that the parts where there <i>were</i> actual demons and exorcisms to be pretty engaging. These scenes were pretty vivid and I was definitely hooked! The Della Torres’ explanations of methods, and some of the history were pretty intriguing and added to the gothic setting and atmosphere of the book. I especially was interested in Mia’s possession at the beginning – it scared me a bit, and if I saw someone who was possessed by a demon, I think he or she would look exactly like Mia o___o The characters were, I suppose, just… okay. To be honest, I didn’t find Mia to be particularly interesting, although her personality traits were admirable. I didn’t feel like I got to see other characters develop either, until there was more of a “feel-good” moment at the end in the Christmas scene. Overall, the characters weren’t too bad… but they weren’t spectacular either. Overall, <i>The Demon Catchers of Milan</i> presents some creepy aspects of exorcism and demons, with some moments of great action and vividly described scenes, although sometimes I felt a bit bored :/ If you’re interested in urban fantasy that’s not too mainstream, or exorcism, or something of the sort, this book would be for you.
MY OVERVIEW: I didn't hold out high expectations for this book after reading the first two chapters. I was almost ready to put it down, but I always give a book its fair shot, and in this case, I am glad. PROS: Mia was a great character. A little annoying at times, but a good overall character. I loved almost everyone in her family too, especially Nonno and Nonna. I just wish there was more of Francesca. She was perfect, but not in the book as much as I think she should have been. The concept was interesting, and one that I'm not sure I really liked. Don't get me wrong, I thought it was cool that they were demon catchers and used the candles to actually catch the demons, but what I didn't like was that there was no difference between a "demon" and a ghost. Any type of spirit was considered a demon and it got confusing. CONS: Throughout the whole book I thought it was going to be a standalone. The author did a good job of making it look like it was going to end, but it didn't. It just dropped off and left you hanging. The beginning of the book was very slow and, in my opinion, sloppy. It just didn't have a flow and when Mia was possessed, it was way too artsy and confusing. MY FINAL THOUGHTS: I will probably be reading the next in the series (as long as there is a next). I'm still unsure if it is a book I would recommend or not. Probably to the right person, but not a book for an overall recommendation. NOTE: Review is of ARC received via NetGalley. ARC did have some errors and a paragraph was cut off mid-sentence.