When Demons Walk
Author: Patricia Briggs
Title: When Demons Walk
Series: Sianim 3
Genre: High Fantasy
Rating: Four Petals
On the Author's Website:
Sorceress. Lady. Mistress. Thief. Just call her an overachiever.
To survive, Sham has spent most of her young life stealing from Southwood's nobility. Now, as the city's nobles fall prey to a killer, Sham is called on to help, and must use all of her magical wisdom to send the demon away.
This was the first book I ever read by Patricia Briggs and since then I've read everything she's written. It's difficult to be entirely impartial about an author I respect a lot, but I'm going to try to keep my review focused solely on this particular book.
When Demons Walk was written at a time when high fantasy was primarily written for boys. The original cover had a mostly naked woman on it and sometimes I still have trouble believing I willingly picked up something so visually distasteful. I am so very glad I did anyway. (The cover of the recent reprint is much more appealing.)
Sham is a young woman who has already experienced the worst life has to offer. When her home is invaded by foreigners and her parents murdered, she is forced to find a way to survive as a thief on the streets. Her mentor was tortured by the invaders, preventing him from being able to perform magic, and he is also eventually murdered. Yet, despite all of the sadness in her life, Sham is a very pragmatic person so she moves onward as best she can. I liked her character very much. I found her to be interesting and relatable, which was true for all the characters in the book.
Sham is quickly pulled into solving the murders and moves into the castle where she starts working for the leader of the invaders. Someone is killing the nobles using a strange sort of magic. Since the invaders somehow refuse to believe that magic is real, Sham is forced to rely on her skills as a thief as well as a magician to find and stop the killer. I found the plot to be very interesting. The balance between Sham's magical powers versus people who refuse to see the evidence right in front of their faces made me laugh. The plot with the demon killing people was also well done. I have zero complaints about any of that.
This book is a stand alone story set within the world of Sianim. It has aspects that remind a reader it's part of a larger plot, but When Demons Walk serves as a singular story. For the most part, Briggs appears to have forgotten to connect this book back to the series as a whole. The invaders are part of a force created in the previous books, yet its not well explained here. The system of magic Sham uses is one shared by the rest of the world, but it's only mentioned as an afterthought. I personally think that a sequel is needed in order to finish the few loose ends and to tie this portion of the series back to the world as a whole. I doubt that would ever happen, but I can still hope. Right?
I also didn't feel that the romantic relationship was fleshed out properly. There's so many other issues occurring at the same time, from the murders and the demon, to the politics of a land governed by invaders that is trying to find a way to peace. The romance begins to feel like something added only because the author thought it was necessary rather than to enhance the book. Again, a sequel that gave the relationship more time to blossom would help, but as it is now, it feels too much like a case of Stockholm Syndrome for me to enjoy it properly.
Maggie's Final Recommendation:
I would recommend this book. It's a good read about magic and politics and how to be a good person even in the worst of situations. It is missing a strong connection to the series and the romance feels like an afterthought, but the excellent plot and characterizations make up for that. I have read the rest of the series and will be reviewing it soon.
Maggie reviews paranormal and fantasy novels and novellas. She also interviews authors and hosts giveaways.