Demons by Wayne Macauley

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Demons Source: Free review copy received from publisher

Five words from the blurb: friends, remote, stories, society, fiction

A couple of years ago I read Wayne Macauley’s debut novel, The Cook, and loved it; so when I was offered a review copy of his new book I snapped up the chance. Unfortunately Demons isn’t in the same league as The Cook and, although there were a few good aspects to the novel, it didn’t work as a whole. 

The book is set in a remote house where seven friends arrange to meet for the weekend. They begin to tell each other stories, but the line between truth and fiction is often blurred, with each tale mirroring aspects of their own lives.

… it might have been true, I don’t know – but I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear any more of her stories, or for that matter tell mine…I wonder if stories can change how things are in the world or if they’re just us telling others what we think the world looks like? 

The main problem was that there were too many characters so it was hard to differentiate one from the another; and almost impossible to remember how they linked together. Some of the individual stories were very good and I especially liked the one involving fake patients in a hospital, but overall it just felt disjointed.

The book was easy to read and most of it flowed quite nicely. I read it quickly, hoping for an outstanding ending that mirrored the one in The Cook, but unfortunately it was a big disappointment. It didn’t shock or surprise me in the way I’d hoped – instead it was just silly and I felt let down by the text. 

There were a few good observations on modern Australian society, but it was trying to question too much at once (topics covered included: materialism, obsession with being connected to the Internet/phone, dodgy politicians, problems with the health service, greed and lack of respect for Aborigines) so the whole effect was watered down. 

If you enjoy reading short stories then I’m sure you’ll appreciate the ones in here, but it didn’t really work as a novel.




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