Camille Bacon-Smith’s Daemon Eyes

Deamon Eyes is an omnibus edition of Camille Bacon-Smith’s two novels of the half-demon Evan Davis; his father, known to mortals as Kevin Bradley; and Lily Ryan, another demon. The three set themselves up as detectives, doing business as Bradley, Ryan and Davis, specializing in cases that are, shall we say, something out of the ordinary. In addition to the two novels, this edition includes a prologue that fills in Evan’s history (which is very helpful).

Evan is the half-breed son of the demon lord Badad, a lord of the Prince Ariton. Unlike most such, Evan has survived to become a young man — such half-breeds generally either kill themselves or are killed by one agency or another: they’re powerful and insane, which is not a good combination from anyone’s point of view. The prologue relates Evan’s story at the point where he first encounters Omage, a lord of the Prince Azmod, rival to the Prince Ariton — or perhaps we should say, in the way that daemons think of these things, that Azmod and Ariton never ally themselves with each other. Badad, known in his human form as Kevin Bradley (“Brad”), comes to kill the boy before he does real damage to the planes of existence, and decides, in the face of Evan’s anger and need, not to. He is thus consigned to remain as Evan’s guardian until the end of Evan’s natural life. With him is the daemon Lirion, who takes human form as Lily Ryan. Together, the three become the detective firm Bradley, Ryan and Davis, who specialize in somewhat arcane cases — recovering stolen high-profile works of art, tracing rogue daemons, and the like.

The first book, Eye of the Daemon, sees the three involved in a case that, it becomes obvious, is a set-up: someone — or something — is out to get Evan; Brad and Lily may well become collateral damage. The second book is another installment, in which Kevin Bradley is the one at risk from the machinations of a reincarnation of the last Empress of China. This one spans the continent, from Philadelphia to Vancouver, and takes Brad, as he is known, into some very scary places indeed.

Both books explore the relationship of father and son, which comes through very strongly and very well. Eye of the Daemon provides a sensitive and intelligent view of a young man’s coming of age in relation to his father and his father’s influence, while Eyes of the Empress puts the shoe in the other foot, so to speak: rather than Brad being the anchor in Evan’s life, Evan is now his father’s rescuer. Add a layer of emotions that Brad can’t identify very well and can’t really deal with, the product of his extended sojourn in a physical body, and you have an intriguing story indeed.

Bacon-Smith includes some fascinating universe building in her description of the planes and their inhabitants that serves to round out the story very well and, when all is said and done, the psychological realism is exemplary.

(DAW Books, 2007)

About Robert Tilendis

Robert M. Tilendis lives a deceptively quiet life. He has made money as a dishwasher, errand boy, legal librarian, arts administrator, shipping expert, free-lance writer and editor, and probably a few other things he’s tried very hard to forget about. He has also been a student of history, art, theater, psychology, ceramics, and dance. Through it all, he has been an artist and poet, just to provide a little stability in his life. Along about January of every year, he wonders why he still lives someplace as mundane as Chicago; it must be that he likes it there.

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