||December 28, 2007
‘My first reaction on finishing The Demon Inside by Terry Cloutier was a resounding Wow! That was brilliant!’ Deb Shunamon for readerviews.com
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‘Cloutier has written a stylish tale of fantasy that glitters with all the action and suspense of a modern psychological thriller’ NY Times best-selling author, Ellen Tanner Marsh
For Edward Fox, the complex fantasy world that he created, called The Zone, has always been his salvation. Traumatized at an early age by a terrifying kidnapping ordeal that forever left him scarred, both mentally and physically, his fictitious world is all that stands between him and the memories that plague him relentlessly. Inside The Zone, he is free from those memories, even if only temporarily, and there he feels safe and empowered from the real world around him. A magical realm where he can be whomever he wishes, whenever he wishes, with the awesome powers of a God always at his disposal.
But now, something has changed. His worst memory of all has somehow found its way inside his safe haven, tormenting him mercilessly, forcing him to make a tragic choice. After a botched suicide attempt that leaves him lying in a coma, Edward awakens in The Zone to find that now the rules have been dramatically altered. His God-like powers have been stripped from him, leaving him alone and helpless in a world of magic and mayhem that is ruled by a mad Emperor bent on his annihilation…an Emperor that seems all too familiar.
Peopled by diverse characters from his past and present, some of them determined to destroy him, and some to save him, Edward must somehow learn to survive against all odds as a vicious war erupts around him, with the prize not only control of The Zone itself…but his mind as well.
‘My first reaction on finishing The Demon Inside was a resounding…Wow! That was brilliant!’ Deb Shunamon, readerviews.com
“I can smell your fear, boy. You're mine now. You can’t escape me.”
“No,” Edward whispered in horror. He covered his ears with his hands and tried desperately to drown out the voice. Where? Where was he? He stared at his wife, pure animal terror ripping through him. “Please don’t let him get me. I can’t go through it again. Please!”
“Don’t let who get you?” Janice asked in confusion. “There’s nobody here but us.”
“I’m here, boy.”
Edward twirled around, howling in fear and almost falling to the ground. “Can’t you hear him?”
“Jesus!” Carl snapped, starting to look impatient. “It’s just the wind coming off the lake!”
“You’re trying to trick me!” Edward yelled anxiously. “He’s gotten to you. I’m not going to let him get me again.” He turned and screamed out over the lake. “You hear me! You’re not getting me again, you bastard!”
“That’s it, Eddie. Very good. Come on. You know what to do.”
Edward closed his eyes, sagging in defeat. He couldn’t get away from Diamond in his sleep or when he was awake, and even The Zone was no longer protection from him. Edward couldn’t stand it. He’d had enough. It ended here. Slowly, he opened his eyes, his body calmer now that the decision was made.
He stared sadly at Janice. “Forgive me. I really do love you.”
“What?” Janice said in confusion.
Edward took one last look at her and then turned to gaze out over the lake. He measured the distance to the cliff edge, then started to run. He heard shouts of horror behind him, but ignored them and ran faster. He flung himself forward as he got to the edge of the cliff, arms outstretched like a bird flying free. The cool lake breeze whistled through his hair and rippled his clothing as he glided for a moment and then plunged downward. He closed his eyes as the doorway to The Zone appeared one final time.
“Forgive me, Doc,” he said softly just before he passed through the door. “I tried. I really did.”
The Demon Inside: The Zone War Trilogy, Book 1
As reviewed by New York Times best selling author Ellen Tanner Marsh
In Jerry Jay Carroll’s well-received hybrid fantasy thriller Top Dog, readers were introduced to a mystical world where humans and magical creatures were engaged in an epic battle of good versus evil while the hero, transformed into a giant dog, alternated between that world and the real one, where he lay in a coma, baffling his doctors and ex-wife alike.
In The Demon Inside, the first instalment of his three-part thriller The Zone War, author Terry Cloutier takes this Kafkaesque ingenuity one step further by making his hero’s mystical world one of his own creation, an existence into which he escapes whenever the harrowing trauma of an unspeakable act he endured as a child proves too much for his psyche to handle. But now the tables have turned and The Zone has become far too real for its creator to control while the evil Empire that threatens its inhabitants is bent on his destruction.
Edward Fox, Cloutier’s unlikely hero, carries with him both the physical and
psychological scars of a brutal childhood attack perpetrated by the serial killer who now inhabits, and rules, the mythical “other world” that Edward created as his own safe haven. Unable to escape this world through which he once moved so freely, Edward finds himself drawn into the brutal war launched by the Empire, hunted by its ruthless assassins even as he must come to terms with his own helplessness, his inner demons, and the almost messianic conviction of his faithful followers that he is indeed “the Creator” of The Zone and that he can save them all.
Cloutier has written a stylish tale of science fiction and fantasy that glitters with all the action and suspense of a modern psychological thriller. His captivating world bears the hallmarks of a Tolkienesque existence of magical creatures, vil sorcerers, spells, and swordplay that move this well-crafted yarn along at a brisk and suspenseful pace. Although only the first of a trilogy, The Demon Inside stands well on its own, and will provide fans of the genre with a satisfying read.
A remarkable debut of richly rewarding, powerful epic fantasy, February 27, 2007
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA)
I really wish I knew exactly how to pronounce this author's last name because I'm definitely going to be spreading it around to anyone interested in reading great fantasy. Terry Cloutier really bursts out of the gate like gangbusters with this lengthy, richly rewarding debut novel, book one of The Zone War trilogy. Maybe you're thinking you don't want to invest a significant time and effort into reading a 600+ page novel from a brand new fantasy writer, but rest assured that your commitment will not be wasted one iota in The Demon Inside. You'll be swearing this book is all too short when you get to the end and face the daunting task of waiting for book two to see what happens next.
The foundation for the story is Edward Fox, a most sympathetic protagonist indeed. At the age of twelve, Edward was abducted by a deranged psychopath named David Wayne Diamond, a man who delighted in skinning his victims alive. While he was eventually rescued and Diamond killed, Edward is still haunted by the experience. Now, it is seriously affecting his relationship with his wife, who believes the scars on his legs date back to a farming accident. When the memories threaten to overpower him, Edward does now what he has always done - space out from the world completely and retreat into a world of his own creation. In the Zone, he was always safe and completely in control of his environment - no one could hurt him there, including Diamond. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.
As his real world body lies in a coma, Edward finds himself back in the Zone for the long haul - only now, the Zone has undergone some serious changes. Edward no longer has the power to control what goes on there, which proves especially inconvenient and dangerous when he learns that he is the Creator whose triumphant return has been highly anticipated by many in the Zone. Almost completely powerless and exceedingly vulnerable, Edward isn't exactly the Creator that his followers expected. Doorgen Sandon, a great knight (a creation of Edward's younger imagination), and a young wizard are sent to find the Creator and return him to the Old Man (head wizard), while a company of devoted monks also seek the Creator they have been prophesying about. They, along with a fascinating mix of remarkably memorable individuals, find themselves compelled to become Edward's protectors (as they hope he will come into his powers eventually) against the evil and deadly forces of a mad emperor determined to kill this Creator and thus open up the way for his own conquest of the entire Zone. Edward doesn't know it yet, but this emperor is a malignant soul he is far too familiar with already.
There's no lack of action in these pages, as the emperor lets loose the dogs of war against neighboring cities and dispatches a cadre of soldiers, terrible witches, and other sundry evils to dispose of Edward and his friends. Much blood is shed by the swords of Sandon and his fellow Knights, a young wizard sent to do an experienced wizard's job more than proves himself despite serious physical odds, and the forces of evil increasingly bear down upon a more and more isolated Creator. Many great characters rise above the tumult, such as the bold and fiery Lady Jasmiine Vaxin (who bears more than a striking resemblance to Edward's real-world wife), and - sometimes to my dismay - many of them go. Cloutier forges his own path through the fantasy genre, sometimes killing off, after a few odd pages, individuals I expected to be major secondary characters. That authorial capriciousness really kept this reader on his toes, never knowing for sure whether a fallen hero would actually rise again.
While all of this intense action is taking place in the Zone, Cloutier pauses here and there to reveal more about Edward's real-world past, specifically his efforts to mentally and emotionally recover from his violent kidnapping ordeal. Both of Edward's story lines come to a most dramatic climax, leaving this reader desperate for more. This isn't one of those lengthy novels that you put down with a "Whew - thank goodness that's done" feeling - far from it. In fact, The Demon Inside has you directing a few choice words Cloutier's way for his authorial decision to leave you hanging on a precipice of anticipation until such time as the second novel in the series is released. That, my friends, is good writing.
Curious, rousing, and heart wrenching, January 4, 2007
Reviewed by Deb Shunamon for Reader Views (12/06)
My first reaction on finishing "The Demon Inside: The Zone War Trilogy" was a resounding "Wow! That was brilliant!" followed closely by extreme guilt as this great world and story wouldn't exist if not for the sickening, violent abuse of a 12 year old boy. A young Edward Fox creates The Zone in his mind as a place of escape and empowerment, where he is revered and respected by magicians, rulers, religious orders, and the common people. Known as "The Creator," Edward is in control of this world until he returns to it during adulthood and finds that somehow the rules have changed.
The author answers the pressing questions right away and immediately sets up the format of the book: flashbacks and the life of Edward Fox in this world, alternating with the world of Edward Fox and The Zone. The flow between these settings is wonderful, picking up former story lines at just the right time to maintain interest, and introducing new characters and plots without disruption. What I really liked was the sparing use of implausible rescues - some notable characters actually die. I also felt an immediate connection with the inhabitants and action of the fantasy world, and more than once felt like diving into a rousing Warhammer battle. This is also an emotionally difficult story to read at times, though, as the author doesn't let you forget the violence in Edward's past. There's more going on than you think, however, and the constant, weird occurrences in the stories led me to continually question many of my conclusions, right through to the terrifying, cliffhanger end.
At over six hundred pages this book can be intimidating at first glance, but it doesn't take long to become totally involved in the dual worlds of Edward Fox, and be glad that there are lots of pages to read. The story has elements of good fantasy, blood and gore horror, suspense, and epic action and adventure, and while "The Demon Inside" owes a lot to other great fantasy stories, it remains an original work. Terry Cloutier's simple, good writing serves up some great action scenes and characters as he skillfully manipulates the emotions of the reader, and while it is perhaps too uncomfortable in places for younger teens, this adult reader can't wait for the second book of the trilogy. I hope the author is busy working on it as Terry Cloutier is sure to earn himself some faithful fans with "The Demon Inside: The Zone War Trilogy." It really is a great book.
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