cover image Running with the Demon

Running with the Demon

Terry Brooks. Del Rey, $25.95 (432pp) ISBN 978-0-345-37962-7

The genius of Brooks lies in his inspired joining of different worlds in one intricate tale. Here, for instance, are teen romance, satanic horror, elfin fantasy and Native American mythology, among other elements. Nest Freemark, a 14-year-old in an Illinois factory town, possesses magic powers whose precise nature is a mystery, as is the reason for her mother's suicide. Nest's grandmother, a dreary alcoholic since her daughter's death, guides Nest in using the magic but keeps many secrets, including the origin of the strange spirit-beast ""Wraith,"" who protects Nest from the ""feeders""--spirits who live on fear and hatred. Nest has a charmingly grouchy elfin partner, ""Pick,"" with whom she tends the spiritual balance of the land. In the midst of Nest's adolescent awakening, a demon comes to town. He is an insidious presence who incites deadly violence and unleashes terrible malevolences from the land itself. John Ross, a ""Knight of the Word,"" arrives to stop him, to protect Nest and to prevent the grim future he sees in his dreams. Dramatically, Ross's character is a confusion: his much-touted presence ends up making no difference at all--Nest herself turns the last trick. Still, Brooks's pacing is fabulous, and he manages to surprise and yet to maintain a feeling of inevitability. The last third of the book is a breathtaking run of near-catastrophes and revelations. As his first novel to be set in the modern world, this volume represents a significant development for Brooks; but his fans should embrace it as eagerly as they have The Sword of Shannara and his many other bestsellers. 250,000 first printing. (Sept.)