Damoren (Valducan #1) by Seth Skorkowsky Book Review

Write on: Thu, 08 Feb 2018 by  in Charles' Reviews Read 4307


DAMOREN by Seth Skorkowsky is the first volume of the Valducan series of urban fantasy novels. Urban fantasy has become something of a winding road in recent years as it has become deluged with endless knock-offs of the same basic character types: a snarky wizard with a bad attitude or a beautiful (but doesn't know it) spunky paranormal heroine. Call them the "Harry Dresden" or "Mercy Thompsons" of the world. They're awesome but it's nice when a series adds something new to the genre.

The Valducan series is nothing like Harry Dresden, albeit Matt Hollis is a snarky man with a bad attitude. He's also not even the protagonist of the entire series. Instead, each volume stars a different member of the titular order of monster hunters. All of them are equipped with magical weapons which possess the power to slay demons as well as their offspring. These weapons have a strange affect on their owners which is halfway between the One Ring and a marriage. I've very much enjoyed each volume and am glad to talk about the first which started it all.

The premise? Matt Hollis is a victim of a monster attack who has been infected in the process. This is normally a death sentence for humans found by members of the Valducan but he ends up being saved and getting the magical pistol which gives the book its title. Receiving Damoren means he's a gunslinger akin to Roland but comes with the cost of having to spend the rest of his life hunting down monsters. Worse, he doesn't have the support of the Valducan because they think he's a monster. Well, until there's a threat which requires all hands on deck, including the ones they hate.

This is weirdly akin to the Avengers in the majority of the book is Matt meeting the other oddball members of the organization as well as finding out about their abilities. There's Malcolm the Voodoo priest with a magical machete, Allan the Englishman with a khopesh, and Luiza with a conquistador blade. All of them have odd but memorable personalities and a few of them are willing to give Matt the benefit of the doubt.

The fact this is a monster hunter book about an organization rather than a person, Matt more or less serving as our viewpoint character, makes it different than most urban fantasy out there. It's also a bit darker as there's no romance in the story and it's a terrible world with monsters treating human beings as supper with no possible recourse. Demons can't be killed by conventional weapons and if you destroy their offspring, then they can make more. It's a neat little set up and the fact the group looks like a bunch of domestic terrorists from the outside (crazy secretive religious group that is always nearby violent incidents) means they have a good reason to keep under the radar.

Damoren is full of action from start to finish with a horde of disgusting and terrible monsters slaughtering their way across Europe as well as America. These are purely unsympathetic creatures and come in impossible varieties due to the fact vampires, werewolves, naga, and other creatures are "merely" the physical expressions of the demon within. That was a neat little bit of world-building there.

Ironically, my biggest complaint is the fact I liked Matt Hollis enough that I was disappointed to find out he wasn't the protagonist for the entire series. He had an excellent "voice" which I became accustomed to. I also note the depiction of the demons is a bit one-dimensional (aside from a surprising revelation). They're completely feral and monstrous creatures which can only be dealt with by the use of weapons. It rather limits storytelling in the future even if our heroes' quest is justified by such a terrible foe. Either way, the books are great fun.

Available here

Last modified on Saturday, 20 July 2019 03:22
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.