• Book Review: 'Demon Storm' (Belador Book 5) by Dianna Love

    Demon Storm is a paranormal fantasy novel and Book 5 of the Belador series by Dianna Love. The relevance of its synopsis' opening line, "We all have demons...some are more real than others" runs throughout the whole book, emphasizing the themes of change, identity, internal struggles, and self-control.

    Evalle Kincaid is a young shape-shifting heroine whose quest is to find Storm, the Skinwalker that she's bonded with. She believes that he can find the Belador warrior queen, who has gone missing after a Medb attacked Treoir Island, the base of power for Beladors, the heroic demon-fighters. If they were Magic: The Gathering creatures, they'd definitely be White.

    The novel's setting is a mix of the contemporary world and the supernatural. There are shrouded areas within Earth (kind of like Hogwarts), where magic interacts with the environment and shamanistic powers are prevalent. Then the Underworld called Mitnel, where the demon ruler Hanhau rules with his legions of demonic minions.

    Readers will immediately know what's at stake when they go through Demon Storm's opening chapters, and find out how Storm ended up being trapped in the Underworld. More importantly, the bond between him and Evalle is developed well, showing us how significant they are to each other. Nadina, a cunning witch doctor, has managed to trick him into her deception. Her methods aren't really clever, but Storm somehow falls from them, which clearly indicates his lack of intelligence. His willpower and loyalty for Evalle are hard to dismiss despite his battles with his inner demons. The inciting incident heats up the tension early on as we learn that Hanhau is building an army of demons at an alarming rate, but for the most part, we don't really know what the demon lord is up to. He's a mysterious villain, and that's what makes him scarier. Rules in Mitnal were vividly-realized.

    Meanwhile, Evalle struggles to do what's best to protect the tribe of powerful warriors, the Belador. They are left vulnerable so she must find Brina, the warrior queen who can save them before further threats penetrate their defenses in Treoir Castle. We learn that she's an Alterant --part Belador, part unknown. Beladors are a race of beings described to be more gifted than mortal humans. They have inherited powers, and their enemies are the Medb Coven.

    Evalle seems to be having trouble trusting people, even amongst the Beladors. "We're just Macha's Treoir pets, not race recognized with rights," she vents. There seems to be a political turmoil that could have been more developed here, but her concerns start to shift. "Storm was her world and her future". She's longing for him, so she soon finds her way in an ominous path, delving into dark secrets, complicating her quest in process. Kai, a spirit guide, aids her quest as she eventually cross realms to rescue Storm from the darkness that would soon consume him as if it was a living nightmare.

    Despite the hindrance of darkness, the characters seem to have a convenient way of communicating through astral projections and telepathy --such vague omniscience! Most of the battles are either spiritual or mental. As Evalle's ally, Adrianna, says, "Without some serious muscle, we have no plan". The lack of physical conflict in the novel's first half would probably bore some readers looking for something concrete. Even the descriptions of locations are superficially described. While I found some of the background info about majick and how societies imposed rules on them interesting, they dragged the narrative's pace tremendously.

    Demon Storm's strength lies on its tendency to dig deep into one's internal and moral struggle. We learn that "living forever doesn't give you the luxury of sitting back for the ride". Immortality isn't always ideal; vulnerability makes us more human, more honorable. It makes us appreciate life more. That's why the characters depend on each other to remind themselves who they really are, where they really stand in the battle of good vs. evil. At one point, Evalle tries to convince Storm that he does not belong to Nadina, the tricky bitch. In the most desperations, Evalle gains wisdom: "She knew the difference between an aggressive lover and an abusive attack.".

    I could really sympathize with Storm's troubles, especially when he vents out his frustrations about his natural demonic tendencies.

    I don't get a choice! I have never had a damn choice in any of this. I was born with demon blood running through my veins. I should have turned into one a long time ago, but my father told me to fight with all I had. So I've spent every minute of my life with this internal battle. I finally lost. That's it. The End.
    Demon's Storm isn't just about Evalle's quest to find Storm, Brina, or to save the Belador race; it's the quest to find the strength to battle their own demon, and sometimes it takes the power of love and courage for them to conquer what's trying to conquer them, to turn harsh nightmares into a dream's paradise.

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