Katie is a suburban housewife. She has a 14 year old daughter and a 2 year old son and a husband who loves her dearly – and she spends her life holding her family together. It’s hard work, but she meets each days challenges (more of less) successfully.
She even manages her husband’s political ambitions, being called upon to host elaborate dinner and cocktail parties (often at ridiculously short notice); very essential to get all the proper endorsements. And, of course, she and her daughter are still dealing with the ongoing grief of losing her first husband that has never quite gone away. It’s an involved life.
And then the demons show up. Once, she worked with the Vatican, she was a demon hunter, a trained killer, lethal fighter who sought out the demonic and slew it, banishing it from the world. But she’s retired and hasn’t fought in over a decade – she certainly never thought she’d have to fight in San Diablo, which she had chosen for its lack of demons.
Now she has demons threatening her family and, worse of all, a higher demon that is seeking to destroy the whole city and she’s the only hunter spare. No matter how rusty her skills, how frustrating the investigation or how difficult it is to schedule demon slaying in between play dates, Katie has to step up.
One thing I love about this book is how much it makes it clear that being a stay-at-home mother is not, in any way, laziness or easiness. Societally we have a strong level of contempt for “women’s work” and a woman who doesn’t work but stays at home with the kids is often regarded as being lazy or somehow failing. Indeed, housework and childcare about both labour that is highly devalued and disrespected despite how essential it is. Katie spends her life bouncing from appointment to appointment – ferrying children about their lives, caring for her toddler who constantly demands her attention, cooking, cleaning, advising and observing her daughter, dealing with the sudden parties her ambitious-politician husband keeps throwing at her. And she alternates this with constant guilt and pressure that is so often understated – is she the perfect politician’s wife? Is she the perfect hostess? She put the baby down in front of the television, is that bad parenting? Did she tell Allie the right thing? It’s a really good representation of the pressure she’s under.
Then throw in demon hunting and she’s well and truly snowed under – the constant battle to fit in all she has to do in her normal life and still do what’s necessary to stop Goramesh is really well portrayed and pretty uncommon in the genre. Usually, an Urban Fantasy protagonist is able to dedicate their full lives to the mystical drama du jour. If they’re overwhelmed it’s because the mystical drama requires a lot of work, or they have several mystical dramas at once. It’s rare for it to actually be their own home lives that intrude on their supernatural lives.