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Through the Eyes of a Child

Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom
by Julie Kenner
(Berkley, $12.95, G) ISBN 0-425-20252-6
Kate Connor is not unlike many women living in suburbia today. She chose to leave her career behind, get married and be a stay-at-home to her kids. The one minor detail that makes Kate different is that the career she left behind was that of Demon Hunter. Her teens and early twenties were spent working for the Vatican making the world safe from invading hordes.

Kate’s life is rich and full, not to mention hectic. Her teenage daughter, Allie, is getting ready to start high school. Her toddler son, Timmy, is doing what toddlers do – running his mother ragged. Then there is her husband, Stuart, who has political aspirations and dreams of being the next county attorney.

So it’s no wonder that she fails to spot the demon in the pet food aisle at the San Diablo Wal-Mart.

Kate and her first husband moved to San Diablo, California, because the mission in town is host to a pile of religious relics. Demons aren’t fond of relics, and Kate assumed San Diablo was demon-free. Not so, and worse still her old teacher tells her he can’t spare any non-retired Hunters to help her. Kate is just going to have to come out of retirement and handle the problem herself.

So in between last minute dinner parties, day care, car pool and play dates, Kate just has to find a way to stop the head demon from taking control of San Diablo. Should be a piece of cake right?

You don’t have to be a stay-at-home mom to appreciate Kenner’s very imaginative novel, although being a woman helps. Kate’s life takes an unexpected trip down memory lane when the Wal-Mart demon decides to show up while she’s preparing for a dinner party. A dinner party her husband gave her 2 hours notice to whip together. Does she throttle the demon, her husband or check on the appetizers first?

The characters here are all very well drawn, most especially Kate’s 14-year-old daughter Allie. She’s very much a typical teenager, nervous about starting high school and only thinking about boys every other minute. Even better, she never comes off as shrill and tiresome. She’s a girl who misses her father, the fellow Demon Hunter that left Kate a widow.

And that’s where the problem lies with the story – there is very little background on Kate’s past, which clearly would have made interesting reading. Kate was orphaned and raised by the Vatican. She sees her former teacher, a priest, as a father figure. She marries a fellow Hunter, they have Allie, and then her husband dies. How? Why? For that matter what was Kate’s childhood like? What happened to her parents?

The good news is that Kenner leaves the ending open-ended. The immediate conflict is resolved, but one gets the impression that it might not stay resolved indefinitely. Demons have a way of coming back, and it may be up to Kate to save the world yet again. Is a series in a works? I certainly wouldn’t write it off.

Carpe Demon is certainly a fun read. What mother hasn’t felt like she’s battling demons while wrangling her children, husband and figuring out what to make for dinner? While Kenner leaves some unanswered and unexplored realms within her story, one hopes that readers haven’t seen the last of Kate. After all, she’s back into reasonable fighting shape – it would be a shame to let those skills get rusty again.

--Wendy Crutcher

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