Mia’s ordinary life is disrupted for good in the most horrifying way possible when she is possessed by a hungry and powerful demon—and saved only by the arrival of relatives from Italy, the country her grandfather fled many decades ago. Now her cousins, the charming and gorgeous Emilio and stern, elderly Giuliano, say the only way to keep Mia safe is for her to come back with them to Milan, to live, to learn Italian, to fall in and out of love, and to master the family trade: fighting all demons with the ancient lore of bell, book, and candle. Milan is not what Mia expected, but it will change her forever. Show More Show Less
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THE DEMON CATCHERS OF MILAN reminds me of my grandpa with it's luscious descriptions of the Italian food. But this story is much more than just the food. The premise of Italian demon catchers is also equally appealing to me as I love a good paranormal/ghost tale.
The story starts off with Mia's demon possession. What I loved is it's not way over the top in the descriptions of the legion(yes, there's more than one) but rather has a detachment that's horrific. Not even the Catholic priest can drive out this demon. No, rather it's some forgotten Italian relatives who show up and do the work. Mia survives the exorcism. Her relatives want to take Mia back to Italy to protect her. Come to find out her own grandfather didn't survive a similar attack.
This is where the writing gets poetic with it's luscious descriptions of not only the food but the Italian life. Right then I wanted to book a flight to Italy! I loved the little details like the family making the traditional panettone bread that's a special Milanese sweet bread. I also was fascinated in how the demon catchers work with their bells. One scene stood out to me. This is when Mia goes and witnesses a woman who is possessed by someone who was gassed during World War 2 in one of concentration camps. There is a note at the back of the book talking about the horrors that the Italians went through during World War 2. I know in my own family, some of the Consoli males were executed for standing against Mussolini.
I love how Mia arcs at the end of this novel too. At first she comes across as timid(but seriously, who wouldn't if they were send to a foreign country with the different language and customs?) Her shy experience with one hawt Italian guy ends up tragically. But that doesn't hold her back. She even comes to feel comfort in the spirits in the walls of her apartment.
I'm excited this isn't the last of Mia as this is a trilogy! A must read for historical fans who love a good paranormal tale.
2. Loved how this story was more subtle with the horrors of driving out demons
3. Made me want to book a flight to Italy!
The book opens with the main character, Mia, getting possessed by a demon. Her estranged Italian relatives are then called in to exorcise her, and then they take her back to Milan with them afterward for her own protection. After that, Mia sits around a lot, reads books, becomes quite fluent in Italian in less than three months, deals with the demon again (he didn’t like being evicted from her body), and at the end has to make a choice about her future.
It was a slow moving book, yes, but it was actually pretty interesting. Exorcism and demon catching are two things one doesn’t see much in the paranormal genre, so I liked that fresh element. And while no, the exorcisms (there were three) themselves weren’t very action-packed or thrilling, those scenes were still really well executed.
Toward the end of this book, I started thinking how this was like a better version of Anna and the French Kiss (American transplant in European city), with a less whiny female character who had real issues to deal with. Beyer did a great job of portraying her setting, and while I never felt info-dumped, Milan was a very real place throughout the course of this book.
One interesting thing about this book was the lack of romance. Mia had a crush for her cousin, Emilio, but he was too old for her and already taken. And then there was this Satanist fellow, Lucifero (not his real name), who appeared only to disappear. Honestly, I was really happy about that, since finding your soul mate should never be very important for a 16 year old girl who’s being chased by a demon.
It did seem, though, that Beyers wasn’t able to complete a lot of her novel. It felt like there were plot holes, and some characters weren’t fleshed out. Honestly, all of those problems could have been solved with another 100 pages or so.
Even though The Demon Catchers of Milan isn’t the norm for the paranormal genre, it was still a fun read. I enjoyed the storyline and Mia’s immersion into demon catching and Milan. The story itself could have been more rounded, but it wasn’t bad.
Set within the beautiful and exciting city of Milan, The Demon Catchers of Milan was enveloped by a deep-rooted family history which permeated every surface Mia encountered. The foundation of her Milanese relatives' house was built by her ancestors and their presence is a lingering force that provided Mia with safety and comfort, even during her stifling first few months of relative seclusion. The powerful history also added a dark tone to the novel, as it whispered of answers within Mia's grasp that could unlock the mysteries surrounding her demon catcher heritage and the demon determined to call her his own. I also loved that Beyer provided us with a classic method of demon exorcisms, incorporating bells, candles and family-tested secrets, adding a certain creepiness and fearfulness to each demon encounter. While I love a good action-packed Buffy-style demon slaying, something a little more subtle suited The Demon Catchers of Milan much better and was a refreshing change.
Mia was an interesting character. Her growth is subtle and understated, like much of The Demon Catchers of Milan, and is something that really takes you by surprise. Her revelations about herself, her demon, and the art of demon catching happen in small moments when she is alone with her thoughts and aren't given much fanfare. Her original perceptions about herself, of being mousy and unattractive in comparison to her younger sister, are replaced slowly with a new-found confidence that blossoms with her growing self-awareness that only comes with maturity. Her perceptiveness about her surroundings and her inquisitive mind led her to figure things out for herself, without having to be spoon-fed the information by her relatives. This did leave us in the dark for much of the book, and it did create some frustrating moments of confusion, but it made her continuous character development possible because of her tenacity in the face of the unknown.
Most of my confusion was the result of Mia's extensive family. With a lot of Italian thrown around, I found myself wishing I was able to speak the language. I kept mis-reading Nonna and Nonno or Francesca and Francesco, which obviously had me re-reading sections for clarification. It definitely didn't help that I was also confused about demon catching for most of the book, or about why Mia's family was being so secretive.
But my main issue was The Demon Catchers of Milan's lacklustre plot. Various plot lines were touched on - Emilio's struggles with his father's death, Lucifero's mention of Martegno and his role in Mia's grandfather's separation from his family, the satanists, Signora Negroponte and the obvious tension she shares with Mia's Nonna - and then dropped. Much was left unsaid and any attempt Mia made to uncover the truth was met with resistance or the promise of an answer in the future. It did make The Demon Catchers of Milan feel almost like a prequel, rather than the first of a planned trilogy, as not much happens. There is much buildup, and the promise of great things to come, but the ending leaves us with little in the way of a satisfactory resolution.
My issues aside, however, I really enjoyed reading The Demon Catchers of Milan. I was (mostly) able to forget about my issues because I found the atmosphere so all-encompassing and the idea of old-school demon catchers so intriguing. While I was unsatisfied with the ending, I am excited to see what's next in store for Mia!