Add a Cup of Chaos by Stephanie Barr - Book Review

Write on: Tue, 14 Jul 2020 by  in Assaph's Reviews Read 1896

This is my first foray into Barr's works, after reading the prequel short story Demon Spawn. Chaos is just about right!

What to Expect

A zany adventure mixing science and fantasy, demons and space aliens, dragons and laser beams. What starts off as a disgruntled, subversive, sorceress using-but-not-happy-about-it demon magic quickly evolves into an imminent alien invasion and interplanar travel between Earth, Demon realms, and outer space.

What I liked

Character are relatable, and the plot flows fast. Things constantly change, and new creatures, technology, magic, and information pop into the story. The protagonist is an "average" person, in that it's very easy to relate to her reactions and choices (she's also a weather sorceress, so there's that to keep things interesting).

What to be aware of

The demons aren't the evil biblical kind, but rather idealised beings living in a utopian society. The aliens aren't really all that alien (too similar to Earth bugs in all aspects), and almost everything - from cats to aliens - is practically telepathic. 

The plot is chaotic, leaning towards adventure rather than a prolong build-up of a conflict. Problems are addressed as they come up, although there are plenty of twists to compensate. There's also a strong paranormal-romance sub-plot, one that would otherwise merit a six-pack on the cover.

Felix's Review

This reminded Felix of True History, by Lucian of Samosata, a similarly zany adventure from his own time. He was surprised that the demons were so accommodating to humans - his experience with extra-dimensional beings is less savory - and the science and magic to him sounded exactly the same.


Recommended for anyone who enjoys chaotic plots and a mix of science-fantasy. I would recommend first reading the prequel short, Demon Spawn, as it will give you both the background and the feel for the story.



Assaph has been a bibliophile since he learnt to read at the age of five, and a Romanophile ever since he first got his hands on Asterix, way back in elementary school. This exacerbated when his parents took him on a trip to Rome and Italy - he whinged horribly when they dragged him to "yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling", yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art. 

He has since been feeding his addiction for books with stories of mystery and fantasy of all kinds. A few years ago he randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis' Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair, and fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. His main influences in writing are Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Barry Hughart and Boris Akunin. 

Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, kids, cats, and - this being Australia - assorted spiders. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he's writing - he seems to do his best writing after midnight.



Twitter: @assaphmehr