The Demon's Dagger: A Noir Urban Fantasy Novella by Douglas Lumsden - Book Review

Write on: Sat, 09 Apr 2022 by  in Assaph's Reviews Read 118

I find Lumsden's urban fantasy series one of the best out there, and I will never get tired of saying it. So obviously I was very excited to see a companion novella.

What to Expect

Expect something a little different that the usual Alex Southerland novel. This one is doesn't involve him, but one of the best side characters - Crawford the were-rat. It also spans several point-of-views, as opposed to Southerland's first-person story.

What I liked

I love Lumsden deft-touch in describing the unsavoury characters that make the underbelly of society. The transition from first-person to multiple POVs was expertly done, and each character has an immediately recognisable distinct voice.

I also love Lumsden original world-building, and the novella exposes more of the history and geo-politics of this complex world.

What to be aware of

This is dark-fantasy, with harsh themes. Petty criminals are never nice people, and there's a lot of misogyny and violence. (Never mistake an author for his characters, though - this is just the aspect of criminal society that Lumsden describes here). Still, it may be a rough read for some.

Felix's Review

Felix enjoyed this new take. He's familiar with the concepts of shapeshifters and were-creatures through antiquity's numerous works on metamorphoses, but Lumsden unique take on the subject was particularly appealing to him. He's used to dealing with rough characters and getting drawn as a pawn into the games of the mighty, so that was also a point of sympathy for him.


A highly recommended read. This is a companion novella, so a bit outside of the usual occult detective series. If you haven't read Lumsden's other works start there, but if you enjoyed them you will certainly get a kick out of this one.

Enjoying the reviews, but wondering who the heck is that Felix fellow? Glad you asked! He's the protagonist of the Togas, Daggers, and Magic series, an historical-fantasy blend of a paranormal detective on the background of ancient Rome.


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