Sunday, August 19, 2012

Possessions Book 3: The Better House Trap by Ray Fawkes

We all need to be careful what we wish for.

I read the first two books in Ray Fawkes's Possessions series -- reviewing the second one here, as part of a round-up -- and enjoyed them deeply, as funny supernatural romps whose central character was Gurgazon the Unclean, a pit demon who has taken over the body of a little girl. Fawkes's dialogue for Gurgazon was sprightly and deeply amusing, in the third-person-declamatory mode. (“Gurgazon appreciates your sarcasm and will remember it fondly when Gurgazon eats your head.”) and the setup was almost sitcom-perfect: Gurgazon had been captured by the smoothly omnicompetent butler Thorne to be part of rich old lady Miss Llewellyn-Vane's collection of spirits, which also included a poltergeist, an arctic explorer transformed into a will o' the wisp, a headless French aristocrat, and a haunted jukebox.

Sure, Gurgazon plotted to escape, and threatened to destroy the world and everyone in it, but that's just what a demon does, isn't it? And, as much as we might say that we want to see Gurgazon break free, what we really enjoyed was seeing that cute little girl-demon stymied at every turn, didn't we?

Well, The Better House Trap sees Gurgazon shake things up: the demon gets a message out to an old compatriot to lure Thorne away. And then the demon uses the abilities of the other members of the "collection" to plot a very plausible way out of the Llewellyn-Vane mansion's magical defenses. And so we'll see if Gurgazon is really so "adorable" when destroying the world is really a possibility.

Better House Trap isn't as funny as the first two books; it relies on our memories of them to remind us of how much fun Gurgazon can be, and also to remind us how much Gurgazon talked about death and destruction. It's got more tension, and what feels like higher stakes -- this is still a book appropriate for kids (and my eleven-year-old has been asking to get it for a couple of months now -- he had to wait for me to read it first!), but it's more serious. It's still deeply amusing -- but Fawkes is beginning to turn our love of Gurgazon against us. Book four -- which Fawkes is already working on -- should have a very different tone, and I suspect many of us will find ourselves rooting for someone entirely different when that book rolls around.

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