My Thoughts on Demon at the Door by Michael Arruda

Demons come out at night.

I’d known that since I could first talk. I remember this because I watched my first horror movie when I was three. Scared the crap out of me. Most fun 90 minutes I’d ever had in my young life. But the information was clear. The night was a bad and scary place. Everything came out at night: vampires, monsters, ghosts, and especially demons.

It was not a good time to be alone, which was why when my parents suggested that at 12, I was old enough to babysit my younger brother Tim, who was 10, and my little sister Egg, who was 8, I told them it was a bad idea. Too many monsters.

So says twelve-year-old Dylan Holcomb, moments before he and his younger brother and sister disappear from their home without a trace. Special Agent Dani Cerra is assigned the case, and to her chagrin, the children’s parents also hire Sean Ryan, a former Catholic priest who now works as a paranormal investigator. Together, Cerra and Ryan follow the clues in a case which begins with the disappearance of three children from their home with no sign of forced entry or exit, continues into the lurid arena of child abduction, and ends with a journey into the supernatural world of demons, a hellish realm filled with unceasing fires and tortures.

Michael Arruda has written a novel in which the human villains are every bit as horrifying as their demonic counterparts, maybe even more so. Demon at the Door is a tale of the supernatural, a story of three children fighting for their lives against both human predators and demonic, while a flawed FBI agent and a troubled paranormal investigator put their differences behind them and leave no stone unturned in their efforts to find and save the children.

Demon at the Door is horror author and movie critic Michael Arruda’s second novel, following his science fiction adventure Time Frame.

I’d been aware of Michael Arruda’s work at Cinema Knife Fight, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect of his sophomore novel, his first foray into horror, when a pdf ARC for Demon at the Door arrived in my inbox from Macabre Ink (Crossroads Press). What I didn’t expect was to be reading a pretty decent occult detective novel.

This is just the sort of set-up I crave in a good supernatural mystery — imperiled kids (gets me every time) is a good touch to generate the sort of emotions you’re going for here, and they are compelling kids. Cerra and Ryan though, our erstwhile occult detectives, are the stars of the show. I enjoy their characterization, and this is true of all the characters populating the novel. Every one feels real and grounded. And the supernatural elements are tastefully done. Not all demons smell of brimstone. I’m glad we get some great variety in our villainy.

Arruda has some skills, to be sure. Some of the dialogue is a little rough in places, a little too “TV”, but he understands pacing and the old bait and switch, managing both like a pro. I think he shows a lot of promise and I would certainly recommend Demon at the Door. While I feel there are some growing pains evident in the prose, it’s a solid page turner and well worth the time spent with it.

Here’s to hoping for more from this world in the future.

Demon at the Door by Michael Arruda is available in pod trade paperback on Amazon for just $16.99

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