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BOOK REVIEW: Desolation by Derek Landy

| 16 April 2016 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Desolation by Derek Landy

Harper Collins
April 2016
Paperback, $14.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Young Adult



Desolation is book 2 in the Demon Road trilogy.
My review of book one,
Demon Road, can be found here.


Reeling from their bloody encounter in New York City, Amber and Milo flee north. On their trail are the Hounds of Hell – five demonic bikers who will stop at nothing to drag their quarries back to their unholy master.

Amber and Milo’s only hope lies within Desolation Hill – a small town with a big secret; a town with a darkness to it, where evil seeps through the very floorboards. Until, on one night every year, it spills over onto the streets and all hell breaks loose.

And that night is coming.


Desolation picks not long after Demon Road signed off, and it wastes no time getting back into the action.

Some of them had been attacked where they sat, others as they tried to escape. Bludgeoned to death, every one of them. A woman in a brown cardigan was slumped over her table, blood leaking from the mess in the back of her head. A trucker in a plaid shirt had half his face caved in. The waitress had been dragged across the counter. Blood dripped from the dented gash in her temple, forming a growing pool on the floor beneath her. Amber couldn’t see the cook, but knew he was lying on the floor of the kitchen. She could see his blood on the wall.

Landy offers up some new characters to enrich the banter and round out the team, including retired cult-actor, Virgil Abernathy, who’s just witnessed something worrying through his neighbour’s window.

Virgil turned off the lights. Time for bed. Another day over with. Another one under his belt. He was building up quite a collection. Had more days than he could count. He wasn’t quite sure what he would do with them, once he’d collected them all. Maybe he’d set them free. Maybe he’d go to Eddison’s Shard, the rocky outcrop overlooking the disused quarry in the hills behind his house and throw the days to the wind, watch them flutter and fly and disappear. Or maybe he’d just stuff them in a jar bury them in the backyard. Either one would suffice. No one would be using them again.

And our very own Scooby Gang, complete with van, and a dog who likes to hump… everything.

Kelly sighed. “Sorry, van,” she said. “Next time I’ll have more faith in your awesome ability to keep goings. There were times, it is true, when I doubted this ability. Uphill, especially. Even, to be honest, sometimes downhill. You have proven me wrong.”
“Now swear everlasting allegiance.”
“I’m not doing that.”
“Ronnie,” Warrick called, “she won’t swear everlasting allegiance to the van.”

And they’re all about to come face to face in this town called Desolation Hill, where the townsfolk are too polite.

For the next few minutes, she sat there and watched the patrons and staff of Fast Danny’s interact with one another. They were unfailingly polite and bizarrely cheerful, and they walked around with bright smiles at the ready – smiles that vanished the moment they thought no one was watching them. But Amber was.

Where Amber and Milo must constantly fight the need to shift.

“This is horrible,” said Amber. Every inch of her wanted to shift. Her nerve endings jumped. Her skin was electric. The human form she inhabited was all wrong. “I feel like I need to pee,” she said. “I don’t need to pee, but you know that feeling? When you’re about to burst and you know that all you have to do is relax and it’ll suddenly feel so much better? It’s like that, times a thousand.”
Milo looked at her for a while. “Right,” he said at last. “Not the analogy I’d have used, but fair enough.”

And where visitors are not welcome, especially on the day of the town festival, the details of which are shrouded in mystery.

“I guess we could stay at a bed and breakfast,” said Milo.
“You misunderstand,” Kenneth said. “You must leave our town. On Wednesday we have our festival.”
“I like festivals,” said Amber.
“It is a private festival,” Kenneth said. “For invited townsfolk only. You must leave by ten in the morning.”


The introduction of the additional characters in this second installment ensures plenty of banter to keep the story moving, and this book manages to avoid feeling like a middle volume. There are elements that link to the previous story, and those that lead into the final installment, of course, but this manages to be more than just a bridge between the two.

Desolation is a little darker than Demon Road, with a lot of physical injury, misogynistic serial killers, and quite a few mentions of sex, with or without consent. These darker themes secure this trilogy firmly in the “older teen readers” category, though again, these older readers might find the shallowness of the characters and relationships a little bothersome.

Though the characterisation leaves something to be desired with only a few characters seeming somewhat fleshed out while the rest serve mainly as background, and though the banter can be a little too witty at times to feel natural, this is a fun and easy read to lose yourself in, and I eagerly await the final installment, American Monsters, due out in a little over four months!


“How can you be sort-of a demon? That’s like being sort-of a Twinkie. You either are a delightful and nutritious snack or you’re not. Which one are you?”
“I… I guess I’m the Twinkie,” said Amber.



Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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