What’s it all about?:
Veerle has moved to Ghent to start a new life with her father and his girlfriend, she’s isolated and alone. But not as alone as she had thought . . .
Veerle recognises a familiar face in the crowds one day, a face connected to a past that she has been fighting to get over, a past that involved murder.
A spate of deaths hit the city but has Death followed Veerle to Ghent or is this something new?
What did I think?:
Demons of Ghent is the second book in Helen Grant’s fabulous Forbidden Spaces trilogy and one I knew I had to read as soon as possible after finishing the first, Silent Saturday. There’s always a worry with the second book in a series that it may suffer from “second book syndrome,” where it does not live up to the glory of the previous novel. I’m happy to say, this was most definitely not the case with Demons of Ghent – in fact, I think I enjoyed it even more. There’s something very comforting coming to a book where we are familiar with the characters back story, personality etc but are still very keen to discover new secrets and the author comes up with some real treasures in this second offering.
I was slightly surprised to discover that the story does not pick up directly where Silent Saturday ended but in a way, it made it more intriguing as a reader to think about exactly what may have occurred. I’m not going to give anything away for anyone who hasn’t read the first book in the series but to say Veerle De Keyser’s life has changed dramatically would be an understatement. She has been through hell and back again and when the story opens, she has moved to Ghent to live with her father and his pregnant girlfriend, Anneke. As you may be able to guess, Anneke isn’t exactly thrilled that she is having to play step-mother to her boyfriend’s daughter, especially when she is trying to cement her own new family and she views Veerle as a typical teenage delinquent who has put her father under enough strain already with her “antics” in the last novel. Never mind the trauma that Veerle has gone through, eh?
Veerle is feeling isolated enough as it is, coming to a new town and having to make new friends and when she is told that she categorically cannot see her boyfriend, Kris again she feels even more alone. It doesn’t seem to matter however, as Kris appears to have dropped off the radar completely and isn’t even answering her calls, adding to her misery. Things get stranger still when she appears to spot a girl called Hommel (who also happens to be Kris’s ex-girlfriend by the way) alive and apparently well in Ghent. The fact is, she’s supposed to be dead. All of this combined means Veerle is in desperate need of a friend. Enter Bram, a student at Ghent University and a breath of fresh air for our heroine. He is funny, kind, sensitive, a great shoulder to cry on and introduces Veerle to something connected to one of her great passions, climbing. More specifically, he clambers around the roof-tops of Ghent at night and reminds Veerle that life can be fun again, something she seriously needs.
But, you guessed it…. the fun can only last so long until Death once again rears his ugly head. There is an ancient legend in Ghent that involves demons on the rooftops and in this narrative is connected to The Ghent Altarpiece, a large piece of 15th century art that depicts the Annunciation of Mary, portraits of Christ, John the Baptist and Adam and Eve (amongst others), with the central panel showing the adoration of The Lamb of God overseen by The Holy Spirit. Veerle and Bram stumble upon the horror of people apparently being thrown off the rooftops of Ghent – but is it the work of a demonic entity or just a demonic individual?
I don’t want to say any more about the plot but I just loved the direction in which Helen Grant took this story! There are so many exciting and quite honestly, jaw-dropping moments that I could hardly keep still until I had finished the entire book and even then, she leaves us with such a beauty of a cliffhanger that it immediately had me eagerly anticipating the final book in the trilogy, Urban Legends. The perfect combination of the supernatural with authentic art history made this narrative so thrilling (and educational I might add) that I immediately had to go and research The Ghent Altarpiece after I had finished the novel. Although I needn’t have bothered, the author’s descriptive prose is so vivid, you could almost imagine you were standing in front of the piece without any previous knowledge of it.
The characterisation once again is superb, we see a different, more mature Veerle from Silent Saturday as she struggles to overcome her previous traumas while still dealing with a number of personal/family issues. I did enjoy the lighter side that Bram brought to the narrative and thought he was a fantastic antidote for what Veerle had gone through and a means for her to smile again. For those missing the intensity of Mr Kris Verstraeten however, never fear readers, he does return but things are slightly different for him and Veerle. Say no more! I finished The Demons of Ghent completely in love with this series and hugely excited for the final chapter in the trilogy. Does it HAVE to end though?
Come back tomorrow where I will be reviewing the last book, Urban Legends!
For my review of Silent Saturday, the first book in the series, please click HERE.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):