Reading Level: Young Adult
ARC: 272 pages
Release date: August 28, 2012
Reviewed by: Lili
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.
Several things interested me in regards to this book. First of all, the title has the word “demon” in it. I think it’s really rare that we can come across a young adult book with demons in it and exorcisms and the entire shebang, so I was excited to see what this book had in store for me. And the other reason I was excited for this book is because the title has the word “Milan” in it. I love everything relating to Italian culture and absolutely adore Italy. And while I can happily say I’ve been to many Italian cities, Milan has yet to be one of them. Oh, how I’d love to visit Milan.
So, as you can tell, my excitement for this one was rather immense. I think that this book fell somewhat flat to me because I was so excited, but by no means did I not enjoy this book. I truly did enjoy it. I guess the word that comes to mind to describe this novel is “satisfactory.”
This book begins with the main character, Mia, getting possessed by a demon. In all honesty, it was done a little weirdly. I couldn’t tell exactly what was happening and it happened way too fast. I didn’t realize certain thoughts were that of the demon inside of her until it was exorcised out of her by her family members using the powers of bell, book, and candle. This aspect of the novel was somewhat disappointing. However, once Mia was in Milan and we began to learn more about the demons through her studies and she witnessed other demons inhabiting humans, I began to understand things a little more.
I have to say that the Milan aspect of this novel was really well done. I truly felt the proper and loving close-knit Italian family vibes oozing off of the page and I loved it. These serial chefs and coffee drinkers ranged in age, personality, and beliefs, thus making this book incredibly heartwarming and sweet in the familial aspect. This was a home run in the Italian culture department. You don’t see a huge part of Milan through description because Mia was confined into her family’s home until she learned how to handle demons, but it was certainly very well done in this aspect. Plus, who wants to escape a family home where elder deceased relatives disembodied voices sing you lullabies at night because they really care?
With that being said, I have to admit that some plot points bummed me out. While the overall plot was fascinating to me, there were a few small problems that I had with the book. Really, two. The first is that side characters were there to serve their purpose and once that purpose was fulfilled, they practically disappeared entirely from the novel and Mia’s thoughts. I wish that everything was properly taken care of. My other plot problem was the ending. We spent the entire length of this book trying to figure out who the demon that possessed Mia was. There were hints, a mystery to be unraveled, and the book completed before the epiphany ever hit. There were never true plot hints dropped regarding the demon’s identity until the end of the novel and right when you thought it would be revealed, the book ended and nobody else cared to bring it up ever again. With no companion novel or sequel planned that is known to readers, this is incredibly frustrating to me. Something I was eagerly awaiting that was one of the main focuses of the novel was just…never completed. Frustrating, right?
With that being said, the way that the book ended made me realize that this novel was a “coming of age” novel in some senses. Mia had to learn about herself, her estranged relatives and family history. She grew up. She learned how to dress, she learned how to be happy and to stop dreading her looks and her “mousy hair.” She learned to accept herself and to give herself self-worth. I never realized this until the very last page, so this was a cute moral to the story because we got to watch her journey to discovering her own strength.
All in all, I recommend this book to others who are interested in a unique paranormal story that would prefer a coming of age story rich with Italian cultural ways. This novel is a good, quick read, that’s worth picking up if it sounds like your kind of book.