Genres: YA Paranormal
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.
Exorcists/demon catchers! Whoo! I’m always in the mood for a good story involving demons. There aren’t near as many out there as there should be. The Demon Catchers of Milan started off with a well-written bang as Mia got possessed and the demon was exorcised from her a few days later, but the rest of the novel fails to live up to that dynamic beginning. Pacing problems, issues with characterization, and various other bits kept me from enjoying myself very much. On the bright side, there’s Lucifero!
After those first thirty pages, the book seems like it’s going to rock, and in some ways, it still does. The few exorcisms that happen within its pages (let me tell you now, this is not an action-packed book) are still well-written. Then there is Lucifero, the darling Satanist Mia develops a crush on. He is either the most brilliantly hilarious red herring to ever exist or he’s the worst case of foreshadowing ever to exist. That’s up for interpretation. Either way, I love him! The romance is almost nonexistent in this novel other than the crushes Mia develops on her third cousin Emilio and Lucifero, and it was better that way.
I consider anything less than 300 pages long a short book and at 288 pages, The Demon Catchers of Milan is most definitely short. This isn’t an often-made criticism from me, but this book needs to be much longer than it is. None of the ideas or characters are fully developed and because so little happens in the book, it feels almost insubstantial. The conflict and antagonist are barely present and the pacing problem created by that makes reading the novel feel somewhat like walking through a waist-high mud pit.
The demon that possesses Mia wants revenge on their family for something, but what? We know Emilio and Francesco rent a room together elsewhere and Anna Maria is a model who is outspoken about her beliefs, but we don’t really know these characters. All that’s said of the family dynamic is “Yeah, it’s totes sexist because only men can be demon catchers (unless you’re Anna Maria and you force your way in or you’re Mia and you’re practically screwed if you don’t), but whatevs.” (Paraphrased, of course.) Really? Who creates a family of demon catchers without giving even one member of that family any personality/depth or exploring their dynamic?!
There will be a sequel and that hopefully means there will be further development, but that doesn’t excuse this novel for its lackluster development. Even when considered as the sort of series beginner that is merely set-up, this is a weak offering. Still, I want to see where Beyer will take Mia and the rest of the Della Torre family, so I may stick around for the next book. It all depends on what I hear about it in the coming months.