Kara Gillian is a cop and a demon summoner. When a routine summoning goes wrong and she somehow summons a creature called Rhyzkahl, little does she realize how that one event has changed her life. Kara had been hoping to use her occult skills to catch a serial killer known as the Symbol Man. Unknown to her the Symbol Man has his own occult agenda and she may not have enough time to stop it.
It's been a while since I've been so conflicted about a book and because of this I'm going to write this as an ungraded review. This is one that I really wanted to like and parts of it were incredibly brilliant, unfortunately one aspect was so annoying that at one point I put the book down as I thought it was DNF.
So the brilliant stuff first. :)
In Mark of the Demon Diana Rowland has created an original and powerful demon hierarchy. Although they are consumed with the need to gain power, they live by a system based on debt and honour. As Kara explains you cannot judge demons by a human based value system.
Whilst most demons are animal-like in form, Rhyzkahl has human form and is almost indescribably beautiful. This plays in contrast to his ability to balance his honour debts in the most ruthless way possible. He does not appreciate being summoned, even by accident. Rhyzkahl was a fascinating character and the thing I loved about him was that his surface appearance does not make him any less threatening or terrifying. Sometimes you read characters who are meant to be demons and actually they feel like nothing more than souped up vampires. That is not the case here.
The plot was well thought out and the author manages to keep her hands on all of the threads. For instance it would have been easy to say that Kara managed to summon Rhyzkahl 'just because'. But we find out towards the end of the story that there is an actual reason as to why she pulled him through a portal rather than the demon she was trying to summon.
Diana Rowland also manages to drop in the most intriguing hints about characters, leaving you wanting to know how everything is going to work out. I get the feeling that nothing (plotwise) has been written accidentally. That there is a solid backstory there to explain everything, even though we aren't aware of it at the moment.
Onto the problem I had with the book, which can be summed up in two words:-
Possibly the most annoying heroine I've ever read. She behaves like a brat, has temper tantrums and uses the f-word at any given opportunity. It started to feel like this was being used rather than character development to show how tough the character was.
The only time the plot felt weak was when it centred around her. She's a rookie detective but gets assigned as the lead on the Symbol Man case. She's very up her own arse. There's a difference between confidence and arrogance, and she comes across as arrogant. Which is a pity as I think if I could have liked Kara, I know I would have loved this book. However, what intrigues me in the story is not Kara but the male characters around her. And this is a problem as she should be the glue holding the story together, not the character that makes it fall apart.