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on July 3, 2017
A rift has opened between two realities, ours and somewhere strange. Spirits come to our world,embody comic book heroes from the '40's,take possession of anyone handy, do their thing and move on. Eisenhower was assassinated by one,Nixon took over and conducted a 'witch hunt' against said demons. Surprisingly the world evolved into one very similar to our present day one. The book opens with our protagonist possessed, barely able to contain his possessor and disparate to find a way out. He gathers helpers in his quest as the search for an answer veers out of control. If you are expecting a comic novel you may be disappointed. In his novel Daryl Gregory begins establishing his style of deftly drawn protagonists that are sympathetic and believable. His carefully crafted work transcends genre and becomes that rare beast,a good book.
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on May 19, 2016
Pandemonium is the first novel written by Daryl Gregory. It tells the story of Del, a person possessed by a demon known as The Hellion. Del lives in a world that is experiencing some well documented outbreaks of demonic possession where the demons are very much like comic book villains. Throughout the rather confusing plot, we see the events unfold through the perspective of a shared mind which appears at risk of unraveling at any given moment. The most prominent question driving the plot is "Can the demon be driven away for good or is it here to stay?" There are indeed some unexpected plot twists and the questions are all tied up by the end of the book in a satisfying ending. The overarching story of Pandemonium is engaging and the characters are likeable. However the book is riddled with interludes, designed to provide the reader with a brief glimpse of some of the other less significant demons. This prevents the book from building up much momentum and for me at least slowed things down as I struggled at times to keep reading it. Good at times with some glimpses of greatness. Overall an OK novel but it would definitely make a better comic book. 3/5
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on September 11, 2010
Random demonic possession is a problem in the slightly altered reality in which "Pandemonium" is set. Various archetypical demons (Truth, Captain Valiant, the Angel of Death, to name a few) are showing up, hijacking the bodies of randomly chosen hosts and disrupting public order by behaving demonically. Collateral damage to the unlucky host can be anything from mild trauma to death. Nobody really understands what is causing this epidemic of demonic possession which, in response, has spawned a plethora of "demonologists" in a broad assortment of flavors. Jungian psychologists, neuropsychologists, priests, psychics, mediums, and various other charlatans all have suggestions about the best approach to exorcism, but not much success.

The issue has become immediate for Del, Pandemonium's first person narrator. At age six, Del was taken over by a demon called Hellion (kind of a scary, more dangerous, version of Dennis the Menace). Though he seemed to make a full recovery, recent events suggest that the demon never left. The story follows Del's efforts to get to the root of his problem through to its ultimate resolution.

Demonic possession is well outside my usual reading beat, but this book seemed to be attracting a lot of positive attention, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Overall verdict: I thought "Pandemonium" was a fairly decent story. Though the execution didn't always match the brilliance of the premise, the book is intelligent and funny - particularly impressive for a debut novel.

Strengths:
# Daryl Gregory writes well.
# Pacing was good.
# Decent plot with a reasonably satisfactory resolution.
# COMPLETELY VAMPIRE-FREE!!!
# PALINDROMES!!!
# It's short.
# It's great fun.

Weaknesses:
# The alternate reality that is the setting for the story is not particularly convincing.
# The development is a little perfunctory - Gregory keeps a tight focus on Del's story arc and doesn't really explore his premise beyond what he needs to resolve Del's situation.
# At times the exposition was a little too oblique - key plot developments were not always clear, or details were blurred.
# The little in-joke references to Philip K Dick, AE van Vogt, and the like may delight SciFi aficionados, but they sailed right over my ignorant head.

Even if this is not your usual genre, "Pandemonium" is well worth your attention.
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on October 16, 2009
I was starting out on holiday to Mexico and picked up Fantasy: The Best of the Year for the trip. In it, I found and fell in love with a story called Unpossible by Daryl Gregory. It inspired me to seek out more of his work and I was in luck. DelRey had just released his first book, Pandemonium. My hopes were not high. I have found so many short story writers that have a hard time making the transition to long form. This, however, was a powerhouse premier.
The story centers on Del Pierce, a man who like many others in this alternative America, is a survivor of demon possession. He is a unique case. After being possessed by one of the handful of Demon Types, the rest of his life is plagued by an uneasy feeling that he is not alone in his own head. Eventually, after being released from a mental hospital, he makes his way home to begin his quest to find out what started the demonic possessions in the mid-century, what they mean, and why he feels the strangeness that he does.
Pandemonium is a rollicking run through American pop culture. Gregory weaves "real" people and history in with his alternate take on America with fantastic results. He hits all the Americana biggies- comics, sci-fi, movie icons, and more, often with a wink and nod to the reader. It is a fast paced read that is both inspired and inspiring. The best part is that this is Daryl Gregory's first book, hopefully indicating that we have much more to come from this interesting and engaging writer. We will find out next month (Nov.) when his second effort, The Devil's Alphabet, hit shelves.
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on August 30, 2010
The publishing industry has been on a supernatural kick lately. Vampires! Werewolves! Ghosts and ghost hunters! Vampires AND werewolves! In the midst of the deluge, Gregory manages something truly remarkable- a book that crafts a simple idea into a unique and interesting tale.

The plot's been rehashed by many reviewers- suffice it to say that demons are real, they can possess you and the world becomes just a little different when they do. The story tends to meander and lose some focus in the middle, with characters dropping in and out too quickly. Del embarks on his quest with little understanding of where it's going, and we get a bit lost in the process. I was thinking this would be a four star rating until the final chapter, which was just (literally) stunning, wrapping the story up in a totally unique and unexpected way.

Pandemonium reminds me greatly of William Browning Spencer's _Resume With Monsters_, another totally unique tale of the supernatural, albeit sharing none of the plot points. Highly recommended and I'm looking forward to more
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on October 23, 2010
If you're an avid reader with eclectic tastes then, like me, you're always on the hunt for new authors. Most of the time you're disappointed. The fallback is to wait for a new book from those authors whose work already has your personal seal of approval. Once in a while you stumble upon a gem and I think Pandemonium falls in that category. Daryl Gregory puts everything together right: beautifully fluid writing, characters we care about and a fascinating, creative plot to bind it all together.

Other readers have drawn parallels to Stephen King, especially his earlier works. Although Gregory is definitely his own writer, the raw talent is there. A few pages in and you're thoroughly immersed. I can't think of a higher compliment to pay a writer. I won't go into the plot,etc., as this has been well covered in these reviews. Right now I'm halfway through The Devil's Alphabet and enjoying it every bit as much as Pandemonium. My only regret is that I'll be through it soon.
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on September 13, 2011
I'll leave out the summation as that's been done to death. The important part of this book is that it's a damn good book by a brand new author -- well, new to novels at least. It's almost impossible to find a new slant on an old topic, especially in the realm of supernatural fiction. This, however, manages to convey a new slant on an old theme. Demonology, as examined by Jungian archtypes, is as another reviewer put it, frickin' brilliant. There is definitely some room for an improvement in the conciseness of the writing style; the book does wander a little bit. However Gregory does manage to reel you in by the end of the book. And you want him to follow it up. That in my opinion is the best measure of the value of a book -- do you want to know what happened next? And you'd better believe that I do.
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on February 16, 2015
At first the premise was really interesting and unique, what with demonic possession being more of a plague than an individual experience, the story quickly devolved into nonsense. I struggled to care about certain characters and in the end, I was glad it was over. Some of the "protagonists" were downright insufferable, and that right there kills it for me. A solid debut novel, but could have been so much more with some editing.
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on December 29, 2009
Daryl Gregory's first novel is a work of daring and brilliance. The prose is crisp and the observed world around him is well drawn. In the world of Pandemonium, demon possession is common enough to have various strains identified. A pistol-wielding demon named The Truth guns down liars. A shield-slinging hero nicknamed The Captain possesses soldiers in their darkest hours. And a puckish demon named The Hellion possesses little boys and has adventures that are a series of boyish pranks.

In the story, young Del is possessed by a demon when he is five and to his horror, the demon never leaves. Now, Del is in his twenties and the demon has re-awakened. The Hellion wants out so that he can spread his brand of mischief. Del wants him dead. As Del races to find a cure, The Hellion in his head starts throwing up roadblocks including a murder. Pandemonium is a clever and compelling read.
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on January 18, 2013
Very enjoyable read and a solid effort from Daryl Gregory. From the description I had expected something a little more along the lines of a horror novel, so I was surprised that it didn't have that tone at all. However, any disappointment in that regard vanished as the novel was original, well written and entertaining. I couldn't put it down. Highly Recommended!
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