Review: Pandaemonium / Author: Ben Macallan / Publisher: Solaris / Release Date: Out Now
Pandaemonium is the sequel to Desdaemona, which was an urban fantasy tale about a young man called Jordan who, in over his head, was being pursued by supernatural forces who wanted to take a very precious thing from him. The titular character in the first novel is the main character in this follow-up book. Pandaemonium is Desdaemona’s story, and is very much a ‘what happens next’ tale, following directly on from the first book.
Written from a first person perspective, the story is told in a deeply engaging, conversational style which nonetheless maintains a rapid pace throughout. The protagonist is quite strong because she is also very believable; this is not some idealised supernatural heroine; her greatest power is her pragmatism and sense of self, rather than supernatural special effects.
Desdaemona’s world is one of godlings, demons and all sort of supernatural shenanigans. It draws upon British Folklore to create a rich and interesting world. Macallan throws a lot of ideas at the reader very quickly, but because we’re so familiar with the themes, we absorb them effortlessly. It’s nice to see the sort of tales many of us think of as children’s stories (but are in fact, part of our shared heritage) being used this way, and it makes the whole thing very British without being alienating.
It’s worth pointing out that Ben Macallan is the pseudonym of the highly prolific Chaz Brenchley. If the name Macallan rings any bells it’s because Ben Macallan is the hero of two of his earlier novels Dead of Light and Light Errant. Though these are earlier works, they are quite similar in feel and theme; young and supernaturally powerful people trapped in a situation where those far stronger and influential than them wish to destroy them. Pandaemonium is the far superior work (as you’d expect), bringing with it both the cocky arrogance of youth and the low cunning of experience.
If you prefer your urban fantasy quick and easy to read, with plenty of twists and turns, you should take a look at this series. Hopefully this is a tale not yet finished, as it is a world filled with potential.