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Literature: Demon A Memoir

Demon: A Memoir (sometimes referred to as simply Demon) is a 2010 Christian supernatural novel by Tosca Lee.

Failed writer Clay is struggling through depression from his recent divorce and the lackluster of his editing job at a tiny Boston publishing house. One night he meets a mysterious stranger called Lucian, who has only one thing to say: “I’m going to tell you everything. I’m going to tell you my story … and you’re going to write it down and publish it.”

At first Clay refuses, but then Lucian begins showing up everywhere he goes, in many different forms, eventually convincing Clay that the story he has to tell is worth putting up with Lucian’s…oddities.

So what is Lucian’s story? The Biblical account of humanity, from the other side’s point of view.

Clay quickly becomes riveted by this new understanding of the world’s most well-known epic. Dragged into a story that quickly becomes an obsession, he gradually finds himself facing the fallout on a philosophical, practical, and even legal level—and the understanding that Lucian, despite revitalizing Clay’s life, is very definitely not benign.

The novel’s page on the author’s official website can be found here.


Demon: A Memoir contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: In-universe: Lucian’s story is much more vivid and fleshed-out than the corresponding portions of Biblical narrative.
  • All First Person Narrators Write Like Novelists: Justified, since Clay is an editor and an (albeit failed) novelist. Justified again with Lucian, since he’s had several thousand years with the help of a perfect memory to compose his narrative. Both of them are extremely poetic in their narration.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Lucian sometime invokes this intentionally, for the purpose of irritating Clay when Lucian feels like his curiosity is being too pleasantly satisfied.
  • Author Tract: Rather subtly (aside from the blunt assumption that the Bible is literally true on many counts)—avoids being Anvilicious.
  • Black and White Morality: Clay thinks is how the spiritual world works; Lucian begs to differ:
    Lucian: This is not your classic so-called human tale of the struggle between good and evil. Hades, you humans always have a way of distorting the truth into something utterly simplistic and banal.
  • Designated Villain: In-universe: Lucian feels that the demons were put into this place by God—that God set Himself against them for what was, in their eyes, a very minor sin. In reality Lucian is demonstrated to be completely selfish and harm others just for the sake of making humanity miserable.
  • Driven by Envy: The demons wreak havoc on humanity because they can’t stand that humans got not only divine forgiveness, but were brought to life with the literal breath of God.
  • Downer Ending / Bittersweet Ending: Depending on your interpretation of the last paragraph. It’s left rather vague whether Clay actually has the sort of life-changing epiphany one might be expected to get after hearing the story behind the universe, or, if he does, what he intends to do about it. In any case, he’s also left with a fatal heart condition, courtesy of Lucian.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Clay comes to realize this is the case.
  • Fallen Angel: Lucian and his fellows, in keeping with Abrahamic interpretation of The Bible.
  • God Is Good: Though Clay remains vaguely ambivalent on the topic, this is the logical counter-conclusion of “demons are evil” which the book clearly presents.
  • Good Hurts Evil: Both played straight and subverted in the same scene: Clay goes into a church, hoping Lucian won’t be able to follow him on; Lucian laughs at the idea, but does comment that the prayers of people inside the church give him a headache.
  • History Marches On: Inverted. Lucian is constantly correcting Clay’s modern assumptions about the Biblical narrative.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Lucifer.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Clay is an editor and (failed) novelist.
  • Nested Story: The narration alternates between Clay’s life and the story Lucian is telling him.
  • Older Than Dirt: In-universe: Lucian’s story, if taken literally.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: The demons basically spend their existence continually rebelling against God one way or another, again consistent with their usual Biblical interpretation.
  • The Resenter: All of the demons resent God for rejecting them and humans for not being similarly rejected, despite their flaws.
  • Seeking Sanctuary: For one of their “appointments”, Clay chooses to meet in church, hoping the demon won’t be able to follow him inside. It doesn’t work.
  • Shown Their Work: The author adheres to a narrative that draws on dozens of fairly obscure Biblical details, various commentaries by Abrahamic scholars, ancient Middle Eastern history, and the Hebraic language.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Lucian, arguably.
  • The Watson: Clay.
  • Workaholic: Clay begins the novel as one of these, trying to fill the void left in his life by his recent divorce. As the novel progresses, his workaholism shifts; he begins neglecting his real job to spend all his time obsessively documenting Lucian’s story.
  • World Half Empty: Clay feels like this is the world. The demons like to go on making it worse.
  • Villain Protagonist: Not of the novel itself, but of the novel-within-the-novel, since Lucian is the protagonist of his story and a villain of everyone else’s.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: This is a feature of being a spiritual being. Lucian looks like a different person every time he/she meets Clay.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Much of Clay’s depression is fueled by his wife’s unfaithfulness.

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