Title: A Demon Inside
Author: Rick R Reed
Publisher: DSP Publications
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Horror, Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (284 pages)
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
A guest review by Buda
One-Sentence Review: A bone-chilling, disturbing ride through the House From Hell!
Hunter Beaumont doesn’t understand his grandmother’s deathbed wish: “Destroy Beaumont House.” He’s never even heard of the place. But after his grandmother passes and his first love betrays him, the family house in the Wisconsin woods looks like a tempting refuge. Going against his grandmother’s wishes, Hunter flees to Beaumont House.
But will the house be the sanctuary he had hoped for? Soon after moving in, Hunter realizes he may not be alone. And with whom–or what–he shares the house may plunge him into a nightmare from which he may never escape. Sparks fly when he meets his handsome neighbor, a caretaker for the estate next door, but is the man salvation…or is he the source of Hunter’s terror?
Reading this book I was reminded of a line from the song “Promises” by Savage Garden: “Listen to the hunter becoming hunted.” That’s exactly what happens in this fantastic novel.
The story opens with a flashback to 1845, where a very upset young woman, Miranda, is digging a grave in the frozen soil in which to bury her infant son. “Punish them for what they’ve done to us both,” she says to the dead baby.
Hunter Beaumont was raised by his grandmother after the death of his parents–an extraordinarily violent death Hunter witnessed but has repressed. He remembers only his parents faces changing from happiness to horror, then it’s all a blank. On her deathbed, his grandmother actually asks him to promise to burn Beaumont House, a place he had never heard of before then.
The story takes a while to get started, setting up Hunter’s eventual move to Beaumont House and the reason behind his decision to do so. Jay Blackstock, the doctor who attended Hunter’s grandmother just before her death, becomes Hunter’s first love and first lover. It doesn’t end well, to say the least, so Hunter decides Beaumont House will be his sanctuary away from the big, bad world. Meanwhile grandmother’s aged attorney, Ian, tries to talk Hunter out of any interest in the property, which hasn’t been lived in for over 50 years. Undeterred, Hunter insists on visiting the place. What they find is both astonishing and disturbing.
Eventually, Hunter moves into the house and then things kick into high gear, starting the morning after his first sleep in the house. I won’t even begin to hint at the things that happen to Hunter in the house, but suffice it to say, if you’re susceptible to being frightened, do not read this at night, or while alone, and most certainly not while alone at night. The sights, sounds and smells Hunter experiences are described in astonishingly vivid detail–so much so, I almost saw, heard and smelled them myself.
At times, I was puzzled by Hunter’s insistence at staying in Beaumont House. Any of these occurrences alone (except what he finds that first morning) would have driven me screaming into the night, never to be seen again. I even understand Hunter’s need assert his independence, to make a stand; but has the kid never heard of George Armstrong Custer? That last stand didn’t turn out so well for him, now did it?
What Did Not Work For Me:
There is a quick side trip into Jay Blackstock’s mind that seemed unnecessary to me. It didn’t pull me from the story so much as make me think, “yeah, yeah, I already guessed this, let’s move on.”
The money figures seem inconsistent at times, though, I suppose, that could be explained away by a renovation to Beaumont House.
The one question to which I never got an answer: Where did the journals go?
What Did Work For Me:
The terror is brilliantly described. I can say without a doubt that if I had experienced anything like what Hunter experiences, I would have been round the bend–physically and mentally.
Michael, the neighbor caretaker mentioned in the blurb, is not as major a presence in the novel as he would be if this were a traditional M/M romance. But this is Hunter’s and Beaumont House’s story, so that makes sense. When Michael is present, though, his calm steadiness is a wonderful balance to the terror Hunter experiences elsewhere and it is easy to see how Hunter could fall for him.
A Demon Inside is a spine-tingling read, with detail so deliciously well written you won’t want to read it while alone at night. If you’re in the mood for a diversion from the standard boy-meets-boy-and-they-mate-until-the-HEA, then this could be for you. Just check the locks on your windows and doors before you start reading.