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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"Demon Gate: The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles 1" by Marty Chan (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

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Download a sample chapter of Demon Gate (courtesy of Mary Chan's website) Here

OVERVIEW: When young Ehrich Weisz – the future illusionist, Harry Houdini –  follows his brother, Dash, through a strange portal, he is thrust into an alternate New York where the immigrants aren't just different ethnicities but different species. He finds work in this strange steampunk world as a Demon Hunter, tracking down dangerous otherworldly visitors that threaten the city's safety, while hiding his own foreign origins. A curious medallion, his only clue to finding his brother, leads Ehrich to a mysterious woman caught up in interdimensional intrigue, and he must learn who to trust as he unravels the truth if he ever wants to find his way home.

FORMAT: Demon Gate is the first book in the Enrich Weisz Chronicles. It is a steampunk YA novel with a mix of mystery, adventure, demon hunting, and alternative history. The novel stands at 240 pages and was published October 15, 2013 by Fitzhenry & Whiteside.

ANALYSIS: Steampunk, alternative history, and demon hunting are all combined in a fast-paced YA novel.

Walking into Demon Gate, I was unsure of exactly what type of experience I would have. Steampunk can be difficult for even the best authors to accomplish, so a relatively unknown author creating a YA book that was no more than 250 pages had me leery. But after reading Demon Gate, I am hooked and can't wait for the next installment.

Demon Gate is the first novel of a proposed series. It takes place in an alternative New York City sometime in the 1880s. In this reality, there are portals that connect to other universes and different species are trying to immigrate to New York City.

Enrich, our main character who will at some point turn into the future illusionist Harry Houdini, witnessed his brother getting transported through a portal and followed him through. In an effort to survive, Enrich becomes a demon hunter who tracks down dangerous demons who enter the universe illegally. While working as a demon hunter, Enrich tries to uncover the secrets as to why his brother was taken.

Demon Gate follows the events after an encounter with a dangerous demon that sheds some light on the secrets to what happened to Enrich's brother – Dash. That adventure includes a lot of fighting, adventure seeking, mystery, and a little help from Nicola Tesla.

Demon Gate is an extremely satisfying read. The 240 page appearance is a bit deceiving, since readers are being conditioned to believe bigger is better when it comes to literature, but in this case it isn't. There is a lot packed into this little book.  The characters are developed, the plot is solid, and it is pretty easy to understand.

Many times during steampunk novels authors get so wrapped up in the science and 'unique' aspect of world building that they take things to an extreme and make it difficult for readers to follow. Everything in Demon Gate, from the world and demons to the science used, is easy to understand, but not 'dumbed down'.

While I loved the novel, there is one slight issue I had. The first chapter of the book happens several years before chapter two. Unfortunately, it is not labeled or identified as such. So, readers are left reading the first chapter and then abruptly thrown into a completely different world, scene, and characters. It was a bit confusing, but nothing that can't be overcome!

Overall, I loved Demon Gate and I'm eagerly awaiting book 2. It is refreshing to see a strong, solid YA book that incorporates steampunk successfully and that is not a doorstop. I really believe anyone who likes steampunk, demon hunting, and/or alternative history will enjoy this novel. It is especially geared towards boys ages 12 and up, as it has a lot of action, fighting, and adventure.


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