Fantastic Reviews - Urban Fantasy Book Review
The Devil Inside cover art The Devil Inside by Jenna Black

Dell Spectra paperback - Copyright 2007
307 pages
Cover art by Vince Natale Art & Illustration

Book reviewed December 2010

Rating: 4/10  (Not Recommended, But Not Bad)

Review by Amy Peterson

          The Devil Inside by Jenna Black is book one of the Morgan Kingsley urban fantasy series.  There are four more books in this series -- The Devil You Know, The Devil's Due, Speak of the Devil, and The Devil's Playground.

I thought The Devil Inside would be about a female exorcist battling the Devil.  But it isn't, even though it features demons.  The Devil Inside is mainly about a heroine running from one bad situation to another while having a titillating sex life.

The book's first-person protagonist, Morgan Kingsley, is a Philadelphia exorcist, although she only performs two exorcisms in this book.  Morgan likes to dress daringly and she has a tattoo, which seems to be the norm for an urban fantasy heroine.  Months earlier, bad guys drugged Morgan and got a demon inside her.  Slowly she realizes that she is possessed, which is her worst nightmare.  But her demon can't do anything initially, because Morgan is so strong.

Morgan's "almost-perfect" boyfriend is Brian Tyndale.  They waste no time getting to know each other, demonstrating their sexual chemistry not only in bed, but also over the phone and in his car.  Midway through the book Morgan decides to stay away from Brian for his own safety.

Morgan has other demons to deal with besides her own.  Her big brother, Andrew, willingly consented to host a demon, wanting to be a hero.  Morgan cared for her brother, but she despises the demon now controlling him, and the dislike seems to be mutual.

Policeman Adam White, head of Special Forces, who is a demon himself (his human host isn't even mentioned), hires Morgan to do an exorcism on fireman Dominic Costello.  The law requires the exorcism of any demon involved in a violent crime, no matter the circumstances.  Dominic is devastated by the loss of his demon, and Morgan feels guilty for doing her job.  By the way, Adam and Dominic are both hunks.  All the men in this book are hunks.  Adam and Dominic are also a gay couple, with a penchant for S&M.

At first, the demon inside Morgan, Lugh, can communicate only by writing notes when Morgan's sleeping.  Later Morgan talks with Lugh in a dream room inside her head.  Naturally, he's absolutely gorgeous.  Lugh is a VIP good demon, a demon reformer.  Lugh was put into Morgan to punish him and keep him captive.

An assortment of bad incidents complicates Morgan's life.  Tasers, which mess with a demon control, come into play.  Her house is burned down and her boyfriend Brian is kidnapped.  Morgan is reluctantly forced to work with Adam and Dominic, with their S&M whips.  The bad guys want to burn Morgan alive to get rid of the demon Lugh.

The Devil Inside isn't the type of book I usually read.  I prefer fantasy that emphasizes the fantastic and strange aspects, rather than sexual adventures.  The book's back cover description should have clued me in.  Morgan's demon is described as, and I quote, "six feet five inches of dark, delicious temptation, this one is to die for".  I think whenever the heroine lusts after the demon trying to possess her, that book has wandered into romance territory.  Apparently such books can also be found shelved in the science fiction and fantasy section, labeled urban fantasy.

In my opinion, this book is way over the top in the amount of risqué content.  The S&M scenes made me uncomfortable, as did the instances of man-on-man action.  I could have done without the heroine "touching" herself.  I think the author was determined to push the boundaries, even though, thankfully, the sex scenes are not overly graphic.  What violence there is, isn't particularly gory or frightening.  I haven't read much urban fantasy, but the books I've read didn't revolve this much around sex, perhaps because they were written by fantasy genre authors, while Jenna Black often writes paranormal romance.

The trouble is that the titillating aspects of the story overwhelm the fantasy elements.  The demons in this book are not all that demonic.  They don't even act especially supernatural.  Demons make their host's body stronger and able to heal faster.  Apparently humans and demons have gotten along fairly well for years.  There are legal and illegal demons, yet how they are licensed the novel doesn't say.  The pro-demon Spirit Society calls demons "Higher Powers", but there are also anti-demon hate groups, such as God's Wrath.  Casting out a demon, through exorcism, often leaves the host catatonic, which seems worse than being possessed.

         The Devil Inside is a fast read and a diversion from reality, even if it's too steamy for me.  It's told by a chatty, first-person narrator.  It's not profound literature, and it doesn't try to be.  The book is entertaining in a B-movie sort of way, like a trashy tabloid magazine.  If you're looking for a sex-filled urban fantasy, this book might be for you.
What do you think? Comments are welcome!
Please send them to:
petersonamy99@gmail.com
Copyright © 2010 Amy Peterson

Back to Fantastic Reviews main page

Links to other Jenna Black reviews, articles, and websites:
Jenna Black - Wikipedia
Jenna Black - author's website
SF REVIEWS.NET: The Devil Inside / Jenna Black
Book review: Jenna Black's *The Devil Inside
Jenna Black « Beyond Books

For information on more science fiction and fantasy books:
Denver Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club

This page was last updated - 29 December 2010