For all of the fantastical elements at play in The Demon Hunter, author Aya offers readers a surprisingly down-to-earth central conflict.
The book’s protagonist is Ayanoor, a retired government worker now specializing in herbalism and social justice while enjoying the rewards of being a beloved grandmother. Ayanoor also happens to be a Demon Hunter sent to Earth from another planet. The offspring of an angel and dragon, her purpose on the terrestrial realm is to find malevolent entities who threaten the planet’s existence and who could be “disguised as the neighbor next door or the boss at work.”
As the book opens, Ayanoor discovers a particularly menacing demon: the CEO of an international corporation bent on developing and destroying land in the Florida Everglades. Ayanoor marshals her allies, including angels, dragons, spirit animals, shapeshifters and other mystical entities, to stop the Mammon Corporation and its plans to despoil one of the Earth’s most important remaining natural resources. In the process, they face the Mammon’s own horde of fantastical fighters, demons bent on sowing discord, destruction and strife.
For all of her skill in incorporating fantastical elements, Aya has clear connections to earthbound problems. Any fantasy fans concerned with issues of environmental degradation will find real-world stakes here. The author’s roots in metaphysical and alternative medicines is also clear in the prose, as her central character cites yoga, herbalism, meditation and other routes to mental and physical health as everyday routines.
Aya’s direct, straightforward prose style does a good job of melding the fantastical and the factual. All of these earthly elements, however, may distract readers looking for a more immersive fantasy story. While Ayanoor takes trips to other realms throughout the book, her agenda tied to contemporary issues from our own world is abundantly clear.
Ultimately, enjoyment of The Demon Hunter depends on readers’ reactions to that unexpected dose of realism. The story will surely alienate some while drawing in others.
Also available as an ebook.