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September 2, 2013

Review: The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer

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.
In all honesty, I picked this book up off my shelf because I was in need of a quick read to review. From the mixed reviews I'd previously encountered, I didn't have particularly high expectations going in. That said, I was pleasantly surprised with a number of elements in The Demon Catchers of Milan.

Mia Dellatorri's seemingly normal life, composed of commonplace things like algebra homework and sweatpants, comes to a grinding halt one night when she falls victim to possession by a powerful demon from her family's past. The granddaughter of Italian immigrants, Mia becomes privy to her true ancestry after her grandfather's cousin Giuliano and his grandson Emilio come to her rescue. She's not a "Dellatorri", but rather a "Della Torre", one of many in an ancient line of demon catchers. As a character, I could tell that Mia was going to be strong from the beginning. I liked that she had a penchant for learning and that she never let herself become a typical "damsel in distress".

Culture played a huge role in The Demon Catchers of Milan, and I definitely enjoyed getting to learn about Milanese traditions and Italian phrases alongside Mia. In terms of the plot, the original twist on demons and possession was refreshing; at the same time though, I did occasionally find myself confused or not entirely able to follow the origins of said subjects. Aside from Mia, I can't say I was particularly intrigued by many of the other characters; most of them fell a little flat for me. One thing I appreciated thoroughly, however, was the noticeable lack of romance. While some may disagree, it was nice to have the sole focus of the story be on Mia's discovery of her family's secrets.

My biggest qualm with this novel is the fact that, at least at present, it's listed as a standalone. Normally I'd applaud that, but considering I was ready to go searching for the sequel because I had so many questions, I can't help but feel like the conflict wasn't fully resolved. Maybe I missed something along the way or didn't read between the lines enough, I'm not sure, but if you're looking for an easy fun read, feel free to give this one a shot.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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