The Demon Magician

Young Adult - Horror
236 Pages
Reviewed on 02/21/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I always wanted to be a writer. The clues had been there from earliest childhood, and everyone else knew it too. The only person who didn't was me, until that one fateful night, when I had a dream about an abandoned castle, a plutonium candle and a number of demons, who, were going to take over the world if I didn't extinguish the plutonium candle before midnight.

It was a story that had to be told, unfortunately, like many of my dreams, it didn't make any sense when I started to write it up, but it did give birth to another story and made me realize writing was something I just had to do.

I work as a technology manager by day, and by night, write, read and breathe stories. I love Ursula Le Guin, Neil Gainam, Melvin Burgess, C S Lewis, Charles Dickens, Douglas Adams and the writing duo Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. Fuse this together with my other passions tea (especially pur eh), diving, alchemy, travel, rock music, cooking, juicing and all things Asian - my stories are becoming even more rich, complex and diverse.

Now living in Hong Kong, I published my first novel The Demon Magician under the name Alex Dunn, which was the first novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo. My next novel Crazy for Alice is being launched soon.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Carla Trueheart for Readers' Favorite

The Demon Magician by Alex Dunn follows teen Ella as she falls in love with the wrong guy, then the right guy, and ends up in a difficult situation because one of those guys happens to be involved with demons. Ella first finds amateur magician Jonathan repulsive, but after making him over into The Demon Magician persona, she becomes attracted to him and falls in love. But Jonathan has some problems at home that lead him to become involved with menacing demons, and Ella goes along for the ride. Things are fine at first — the demons make it so that Ella’s crippled younger sister Jenny can walk again, and Jonathan’s act as The Demon Magician is really taking off. But soon Ella realizes that both she and Jonathan are in over their heads. Luckily, she is smart enough to back out, even as Jonathan gets sucked in further. When she falls in love with angelic and handsome gardener Matthew, however, she finds she can never leave behind her life as the magician’s assistant. Jonathan and the demons just won’t allow that.

What struck me most about The Demon Magician was the interesting concept. Jonathan, like many others who have difficulties in life, takes the easy way out by attaching himself to a world where anything is possible if you give up enough of yourself to attain it. The scenes where Jonathan is doing his Demon Magician acts were the most engaging, and I really would have liked to see more of this, especially in the beginning so I could understand the full depth of Ella's attraction to him. The magic shows were imaginative, particularly as they grew darker and darker as the book went on. The man who wished to be Elvis Presley and how he received that gift will stay with me for a long time! Author Alex Dunn writes Matthew’s character as the exact opposite of Jonathan, and Ella’s attachment to him shows her growth. I can’t include spoilers, but I will say the ending was done spectacularly. The book is recommended to fans of horror novels and edgy teen reads.

Jack Magnus

The Demon Magician is a dark, young adult urban fantasy written by Alex Dunn. Ella’s dreams of being an Olympic gymnast ended when her father disappeared during an attempt to rescue some fishermen. Her younger sister, Jenny, was wheelchair-bound, and her mom needed Ella to help care for her. Feeling already like her life is over at the age of fifteen, Ella didn’t have much to lose when Jonathan Trent, the strange older classmate who seemed to have a crush on her, asked for her help in setting up a magic act. Ella had seen his magic tricks before, and they were pretty lame, but he promised that he had much better equipment at home and asked her to come by his house on Saturday to help him prepare for an important audition. When she got there, Jonathan’s house was gothic and spooky, and he lived with his grandparents, who were both in wheelchairs. His grandmother was demented and scary, but all the strangeness was forgotten when Ella set foot in his theatre, a large room complete with red velvet curtains and rows of theatre seats. And behind the curtains were his magic tricks and props. Ella’s attention was grabbed by a poster of an old-time magician who was dressed in black and had demonic consorts, and she came up with the idea to have Jonathan dress up as a vampire or a demon magician. As she helped him get dressed and made up for his performance, she began to see that underneath the nerdy exterior was an incredibly hot guy who she might just fall in love with.

Alex Dunn’s dark urban fantasy, The Demon Magician, is thrilling and suspenseful. Ella’s youthful flair for design unwittingly propels Jonathan into a magical role that threatens to overcome his own personality and change their fairy tale romance into something that borders on controlling and abusive. Dunn’s portrayal of the young magician is complex and infinitely poignant as the reader witnesses the young man, whose life before his fame was a hard one as he had the sole responsibility for caring for his aged and abusive grandparents and was an outcast at school, both find and lose himself to the magic he creates.

While this story is primarily Ella’s tale, I couldn’t help but feel the strong bond the two have even as his personality changes. Dunn covers a lot of ground in this finely plotted and moving story. There’s the issue of abusive relationships and the sad legacy of generational abusers, and the impact that the loss of Ella’s father has on her Olympic dreams and outlook for her future. Ella is a marvelous character who is strong, resourceful, and able to think on her feet, and best of all, she’s a survivor who’s a joy to follow in this stirring tale. I was happily lost to the outside world while I read The Demon Magician, and somewhat ruefully closed the book as I finished the last page. It’s most highly recommended.

Melinda Hills

Never were the words ‘Be careful what you wish for!’ as true as they are in this amazing supernatural thriller, The Demon Magician. Alex Dunn presents Jonathan as a rather dorky teenager who is interested in magic. Ella agrees to help him put on a magic show to impress Hellmouth, Brimstone and Blackheart, whom Jonathan thinks are members of an elite magic act called the Inner Circle, only to find out that there is much more to it than that.

As demons devoted to Belphegor, one of the six devils guarding hell, the price of their acceptance is higher than Ella realizes, even though it means her disabled sister will be able to walk again. The more Jonathan is pulled under Belphegor’s influence, the more uncomfortable Ella becomes until she finally walks away from the fame and fortune. Finding an angel who shows her the real meaning of love, Ella discovers that it is not so easy to turn her back on Jonathan or the demons who are directing his life. Will Ella be able to save the ones she loves or will it cost her the ultimate price – losing her soul to the Devil?

Well written and fast paced, The Demon Magician by Alex Dunn grabs your interest on the first page and holds it until the very surprising ending. Even when you think you know what will happen next, there is a twist in the dealings Ella, Jonathan and the demons undertake that takes your breath away and leaves you hoping that an angel will truly step in. This is a terrific book that handles adolescent doubts, first love and the desperation of the unhappy soul equally well, and lets you think about what you would really wish for if you had the chance.

Romuald Dzemo

The Demon Magician by Alex Dunn is a beautiful tale that reads as if it’s told by a demon because its language is so sexy, seductive, and powerful, and the characters evolve under a spell that transcends human powers. Jonathan Trent has grandparents to care for, his Vegas show isn’t measuring up to what he’d have wanted, but he gets the opportunity of a lifetime to audition for a magic show that is as mysterious as it’s tempting. Ella, who has helped him to get into the audition, falls in love with him, not knowing that she’s sent her lover to the services of a powerful demon called Belphegor. But when Jonathan starts behaving like a demon offstage, Ella knows they might have bargained for more than they can afford to pay. What happens next is what will blow the reader’s mind.

Dunn is a great writer, gifted with an effusive imagination and imbued with extraordinary storytelling skills. The prose is beautiful and suave, and reads like a dance. The author’s voice is gripping, made more powerful by the masterful use of the first person narrative and the present tense, elements of narration that will undoubtedly grip a reader’s attention. The author has built the conflict at different levels of the story, making it interesting to read. The pace is fast, the characters captivating, and the suspense mordantly exacting. I love the humor and the way the author built the tension throughout the plot. The Demon Magician is a story that will make readers believe that demons really exist, even if they have never met one. It’s a real delight to read.

Kathryn Bennett

The Demon Magician by Alex Dunn introduces us to Belphegor, an arc demon who essentially grants wishes so this, of course, can attract a following. Ella agrees to help a student friend, Jonathan, with an audition into some strange magic. What she never expected when she agreed was that she would fall for him hard and that she would see that there really are demons in the world. These demons - Hellmouth, Brimstone and Blackheart - work for Belphegor as recruiters. Jonathan enters into his service and Ella finds herself going with him so that her disabled sister can once again walk. Things get worse and she has to save Jonathan from what is happening to him when he preforms magic, but can she do it?

All compliments to Alex Dunn who has really created a great story with enjoyable characters that pull you in and make you connect. Ella is a girl who really has to overcome a lot; she is not flawless in her actions but that is what makes you feel right along with her because no one is perfect. Jonathan falls victim like many and you want him to come out on the right side of things.

The idea of demons being seductive and granting favors in turn for one's soul is not a new concept, and there have been some great works done about crossroads demons. While having a somewhat familiar feel in that sense, this book still stands as a unique work on its own. Everything about this book is perfect for the younger target audience and it is still a fun read for an adult. There is magic, evil, a fight to save people and, of course, a love story. All of it ties together in one well flowing, beautiful piece of work. This is a highly recommended book and I hope to read more from this author in the future.