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Literature / Demon Road

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She's having a hell of a time

"For anyone who ever thought their parents were monsters..."

Demon Road is a trilogy of books by Irish author Derek Landy, creator of Skulduggery Pleasant. The series consists of Demon Road, Desolation, and American Monsters.

The story revolves around Amber, an ordinary 16 year old girl from Florida who, after a shocking encounter, discovers a dark and twisted family secret. Her parents and their friends are demons, out for her blood to fulfil a violent pact with a creature known as the Shining Demon. Forced to run for her life, Amber finds herself under the protection of Milo, a quiet, sarcastic and mysterious man driving a Dodge Charger, which seems to be alive. Tagging along for the ride is Glen, the annoying road trip companion from hell, who has come to America from Ireland after being told he has forty days to live.

Forced to flee across America on the eponymous Demon Road, the trio find themselves facing demonic and otherworldly dangers as they search for a way to stop Amber's parents; Undead serial killers, Vampires, Servants of hell and, of course, the ebony-horned and red-skinned demons that are relentlessly hunting the trio.


Demon Road contains examples of:

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     Demon Road 
  • Abhorrent Admirer: The hideous Treant witch is in love with Jacob.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Dacre Shanks tricks Amber into shrinking down to join him in his dollhouse.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Varga ends up proving to be this for Amber's parents. Taking on six demons by himself, with only Bill and Betty proving to slightly inconvenience him.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Fool.
  • Amnesiac Hero: Milo woke up in a motel one day with the charger parked outside and no idea who he was.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Imelda apologizes before punching a hysterical Amber unconscious.
  • Back from the Dead: Glen, who during the closing of the story is revealed to not be dead, but has instead been turned into a vampire.
  • Bald of Evil: Gregory's demon form is bald.
  • Big Red Devil: What demons look like when transformed.
  • Bottomless Bladder: Milo doesn't seem to need the toilet while driving the charger. Glen theories it uses his waste as fuel.
  • Blessed With Suck: Demons gain power by eating other demons. Amber's parents and their friends have ritualistically eaten their own children for decades, but throughout the series their physical strength seems only marginally impressive next to the other monsters encountered, making it seem like they've wasted a lot of time without much reward.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: To Skulduggery Pleasant.
  • Blood Magic: When the demons eat their children, a representative of the Shining Demon shows up with six scalpels and jars so each demon can give him a jar of blood.
  • Butt-Monkey: Glen. Oh poor Glen.
  • Carved Mark: Amber threatens to carve the word "Troll" onto the forehead of a street thug who calls her that but ends up not going through with it after scratching him once.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Glen fancies himself a ladies' man even though most of them can't stand him.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Abigail shows up again in American Monsters.
  • Child Eater: The demons have to eat their children as part of the sacrifice.
  • Classical Movie Vampire: The vampires of Demon Road have a lot of the standard traits, including weaknesses to sunlight and being staked.
  • Cool Car: The Charger. Which is arguably even cooler than the Bentley from Skulduggery Pleasant.
  • Contrasting Sequel Protagonist: Not a sequel, but Amber is this to Valkyrie Cain. Whereas Valkyrie Jumped at the Call and enjoyed her dangerous lifestyle, Amber is forced into it and takes no joy in the horror she encounters. While Valkyrie, eager for action, is cunning and quick on her feet, Amber is reluctant and prone to making monumentally bad decisions as a result. Further, Valkyrie has a much better relationship with her parents.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: Caleb Tylk wrote "Caleb Tylk loves Rosalie Masterson" on her bedroom wall in her blood while kidnapping her and murdering her family.
  • Dangerous 16th Birthday: demon children start to exhibit powers shortly after their 16th birthday.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Milo, who at the beginning the story speaks to Amber and Glen entirely in this manner.
  • Deal with the Devil:
    • Near the beginning of the story, Amber performs a simple ritual in order to gain herself an audience with the Shining Demon, hoping he will change the terms of the deal he made with her parents. They come to an agreement, but unsurprisingly, the Shining Demon backstabs Amber with a surprise extra condition.
    • Amber's parents themselves, along with their friends, made a deal with the Shining Demon that would grant them immortality. The condition was that they would, every sixteen years, sacrifice one of their children, eating them, and give a representative of the Shining Demon the parents' now enhanced blood.
    • When Gregory Buxton's son was dying of severe cancer, he made a deal with the Shining Demon in order to save his sons life. He was tasked with harvesting three souls a year for the Shining Demon, but Gregory Buxton was able to outwit the Shining Demon and escape, vanishing without a trace using Loophole Abuse
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: The hierarchy of the Demons is left reasonably vague, but seems to consist of a Devil-analogue called the Blood-dimmed king served by Demons like the Shining Demon, who in turn have servants like Fool and his representative. It seems that lowest in the hierarchy are humans that make deals in order to become demons themselves.
  • Demon of Human Origin: The demons were humans who got the ability to transform after making a Deal with the Devil.
  • Devil, but No God: Some characters have faith in God but we see no evidence that he exists. Amber briefly wonders if praying to God or confessing to a priest will solve her problems but dismisses the idea.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Amber backstabs The Shining Demon by giving its assistant Fool a dazed Edgar instead of Gregory Buxton, quickly taking the cure that removes the changing scar from her arm, before moving on to flat out mock and insult the Shining Demon itself, calling it out for its inability to find Gregory in over fifteen years when she did it in three weeks. Sure it didn't end well, but it was pretty awesome
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Gregory Buxton wanted to save his son from cancer, so he went to the Shining Demon and made a pitch so good the Demon didn't notice that he was leaving loopholes in the deal. Some time later, once he was sure his son was safe, Gregory Buxton was gone and became known in urban legend as the man who escaped the Shining Demon.
  • The Dreaded: Amber's Parents and Co., who prove to be well known and feared throughout the country.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Shining Demon has shades of this.
  • Evil Is Petty: Dacre Shanks admits he's petty and refuses to tell Amber the identity of the man who tricked the Shining Demon because it's the only fun he's had in years.
  • Evil Me Scares Me: Amber begins to fear her demon side and the horrific things it does when let loose.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Amber's parents Vs. Varga.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Most of the deaths in the story, ranging from Varga to Faith to Imelda and Alistair just to name a few.
  • Fingore: Amber bites the finger off Brandon when he attacks her. She later does it to Alistair.
  • Give Me Back My Wallet: Amber gets her money back off Glen when he steals it from her clothes.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Shining Demon.
  • Henshin Hero: How demons work. They can't do much in their human forms but transform into a super strong and fast Big Red Devil.
  • Hero of Another Story: Teenage Heather fighting an undead serial killer sounds like it would make an interesting slasher movie.
  • Hero's Classic Car: Milo's 1970 Charger (440 six-pack, 3 2-barrel carbs and 390 horses). It is actually his demonic symbiote from his days as an urban legend known as the Highway Ghost. It is not clear whether it was once simply a normal Charger.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Imelda. Killing herself in order to give Amber a chance to escape her parents.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Vampires are terrified of crosses. Amber briefly worries about stepping into a church but nothing happens.
  • Hot as Hell: demons are a lot more attractive in their demon forms.
  • Humans Are Insects: Well, demons are insects. When Amber's parents and the crew go against Varga, he says they are insects to him.
  • I Can See My House from Here: Glen mentions that he can see Althea's house from Amber's hotel room window before a vampire pulls him out of it.
  • Idiot Hero: Downplayed with Amber. Being forced into her situation and put up against the horrors of the Demon Road, she understandably makes a number of terrible decisions.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Edgar badly wants the Shining Demon to grant him power and has been killing young women for years in hopes he'll take them as sacrifices.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: Lautaro Soto said this to Glen, which got him the Deathmark.
  • In Love with the Mark: The Witch was sent to torment Jacob but ended up falling in love with him. One of her captives realizes this when she says her sniper brother grew attached to his targets after a few days and found it hard to shoot them.
  • Instant Armor: Lower case demons can grow and retract black scale armour over different parts of their bodies which is controlled subconsciously.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Shining Demon constantly shines brilliantly, hence the name, but he enjoys suffering and is part of the hierarchy of Demons.
  • Likes Older Women: Glen prefers women in their twenties and sometimes older.
  • Mouse Hole: When Amber worries about Dacre Shanks escaping from his dollhouse, Glen asks her where he'd go and suggests a cartoon Mouse Hole in the skirting board.
  • Must Be Invited: Vampires but they can hypnotise humans into inviting them or just reach into windows to pull people out.
  • Mysterious Past: Milo's history is chock full of mystery. To him as well.
  • The Needless;
    • Dacre Shanks doesn't need to eat or sleep.
    • Milo doesn't need to eat while driving the charger.
  • Nested Mouths: When the Shining Demon's representative transforms, he reveals a second mouth inside his original that is just a huge hole lined with curved teeth.
  • No Body Left Behind: Vampires when exposed to sunlight will burst into flames until there's nothing left.
  • Non-Action Guy: Glen has no fighting ability and Edgar's first reaction is to hide behind the sofa when a fight starts.
  • Offing the Offspring: The demons have to sacrifice one of their children every few years in order to stay immortal.
  • Older Than They Look: Ambers parents and their friends, who are eternally youthful thanks to their deal with the Shining Demon. Also Abigail, who looks like a little girl.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Varga refuses to hand Amber over to her parents because he believes anyone who spills his childrens' blood is his to kill.
  • Our Demons Are Different: There are two kinds, demons seemingly made when a mortal human makes a Deal with the Devil and gains power from it by harvesting souls and the children of these humans, and Demons, far more mysterious entities who dwell in what may or may not be Hell and hand out a Deal with the Devil to mortals who interest them enough.
    • Gregory is a winged, grey-skinned variant of the demon type with a ring of crown-like protrusions on his head instead of two big horns.
    • The Shining Demon's representative can turn into a 10 foot tall shark-man.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Fairly standard. They drink blood, are allergic to sunlight, can fly and fear crosses. Their leader Varga at least and can turn into smoke and a giant wolf.
  • Painful Transformation: Shifting into a demon hurts the first few times Amber does it.
  • Portal Door: Dacre Shanks has a magic key that can link any door to the interior of his dollhouses. Anyone the goes through will shrink. Shanks claims he can use the key to travel from a doorway to any other doorway but only he can control where, even if someone else is using the key.
  • Possession Burnout: The Witch tries to possess women by filling them with her branches but this quickly tears them apart. She thinks Amber's demon body might be able to handle it though.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: To keep their powers and immortality, demons have to sacrifice their children every few decades.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: The charger was able to last 12 years with no maintenance.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Imelda acknowledges this trope saying that she deserves to die for all the children she's killed. When Amber offers her life to save her, Imelda immediately kills herself so the demons will eat her instead of Amber.
  • Running Gag: Disney World.
  • Scotty Time: Amber tells the Shining Demon she needs six weeks to bring him the man who escaped him, GD gives her three.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Amber's parents have the police well enough bribed that they can cover most things up.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Heather has Dacre Shank trapped in one of his own dollhouses.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Abigail was originally a child who went insane and murdered her parents.
  • Show Within a Show: Amber loves a Paranormal Romance show called The Dark Places, based on a series of young adult novels of the same name.
  • The Sleepless;
    • Dacre Shanks doesn't sleep.
    • Milo doesn't need to sleep while driving the charger.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Amber's parents drug her coke before they intend to sacrifice her.
  • Statuesque Stunner;
    • Betty and Imelda are described as looking like this, possibly as a side effect of their Deal with the Devil.
    • Any female demon when shifted really.
  • Soul Eating: Demons get more powerful by eating souls. Gregory Bruxton realized he could get stronger and avoid detection from the Shining Demon by eating the souls himself instead of passing them on to SD.
  • Stay Frosty: Wallace says it to Amber when he leaves the cafe.
  • Stern Chase: The entire book is Amber being chased across America by her parents.
  • Summoning Ritual: Played straight when Amber's parents would summon the Shining Demon but he later changed thing so that the summoner gets teleported to his castle.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The ritual to summon the Shining Demon was found in a book called The Blood-dimmed King.
  • Town with a Dark Secret;
    • Springton had a serial killer that the locals don't like talking about, especially the fact he came back from the dead to kill again.
    • Cascade Falls is run by vampires.
  • Treants: The witch plaguing Jacob is basically a humanoid tree monster.
  • Vain Sorceress: The Witch is kidnapping women and filling their bodies with her branches, hoping to take over them so Jacob will love her back.
  • Vampires Sleep in Coffins: Rosalie sleeps in one and (chained in the basement) Caleb implies that sleeping in the ground would be an acceptable alternative.
  • Walking Spoiler: Milo.
  • We Can Rule Together: Alastair offers Amber a chance to take Imelda's place as his mate and sacrifice their own future children.
  • Winged Humanoid: Gregory's demon form has two huge bat-like wings.
  • Wolverine Claws: Lower case demons can grow and retract their claws at will.
  • You Remind Me of X: After saving her from Varga, Betty says Amber reminds her of her own mother.

  • Alliterative Name: Warrick's last name is Wyman.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Warrick says that red demons are pretty rare with them usually being various shades of grey. The demons in Desolation are various colours.
  • Animate Dead: Mauk can resurrect his victims as zombie slaves.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Ardat-Ko happily feeds her limbs to the police in exchange for her freedom and it's implied she can regrow them when she gets free. They end up eating all of her.
  • Autocannibalism: Amber has a nightmare where she's at a diner in demon form with her parents, eating her human head.
  • Badass Biker: The Hounds of Hell.
  • Barbaric Bully: Cole Blanchard. He steals a gun at one point and threatens to kill his stepfather and Austin with it.
  • Basement-Dweller: The Party Monster lives with his parents, seemingly lying in bed playing video games most of the day.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Barbaric Bully, Cole Blanchard has a poster of a naked woman in chains in his bedroom.
  • Black Comedy Rape;
    • Warrick gets the information he wants out of Ricky by threatening to let Two hump his face.
  • Cannibalism Superpower;
    • The Desolation Hill police became demons after summoning and eating The Smiling Demon.
    • Benjamin tries to eat Amber in hopes of getting stronger and the ability to be a demon all year round. Ironically, she eats him and uses up the extra energy to regenerate from her gunshot wounds.
  • Cool Old Guy: Virgil Abernathy and Javier Santorum, a pair of retired actors who meet up with the heroes.
  • Criminal Doppelgänger: Oscar Moreno who killed Virgil's neighbour, Snyder looks like a young version of his old colleague, Javier. Later revealed to be The Narrow Man who used Javier's face because he was a fan of his TV shows.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: Amber tells a man in a diner that she broke her fingers by slamming both hands in a car door.
  • Deal with the Devil;
    • Jesper had one with the two Shining Demons to prolong his life if he sacrificed souls to them. He later makes a similar one with Naberius to keep Astaroth and the Hounds out of the town.
    • Amber makes a deal to become Astaroth's new representative in exchange sending Milo back to Earth.
  • Depraved Bisexual: The demonized citizens will attack and have sex with each other indiscriminantely during Hell Night.
  • Deus ex Machina: When Kirsty is about to kill Amber, Glen flies in, bites Kirsty and fies off with her.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Not the future but drinking Astaroth's blood gives Amber realistic interactive dreams of her dead siblings in the past.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Two can detect demons in human form.
  • Expy: Kelly and friends are a far more capable stand-ins for Mystery Inc.
    • The serial killer Amber is briefly taken to jail with comes off as a more succesful and yet more pathetic Vaurien Scapegrace.
  • Eye Scream: Fool loses its eyes at some point between books 1 and 2.
  • Fingore;
    • Mauk breaks all Amber's fingers with a hammer to stop her clawing him.
    • As per usual, Amber bites the fingers off a waitress but given that she's one of Mauk's zombies, she doesn't feel it.
    • Ardat-Ko started the lroces of turning the police officers into demons by cutting off the fingers on her left hand and feeding them to them.
  • Flipping the Bird;
    • Amber attempts it to The Hounds of Hell through the town barrier but ends up waving her bandaged hand at them instead. Though she succeeds later on when they chase her back into the town.
    • Amber does it when Kristy's trying to kill her, emulating a famous death scene in The Dark Places show.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: The Party Monster lives the idea of Kelly being a lesbian and is disappointed that Linda isn't.
  • Healing Factor;
    • Milo says Amber's fingers should heal in a couple days if she stays in her demon form.
    • The Narrow Man can regenerate in his true form including reattaching a foot.
  • Hotter and Sexier: To the first Demon Road.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Astaroth and Naberius are shown as humanoid here.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: Ronnie gets annoyed at Kelly for asking Amber what she's in (jail) for because he'd always wanted to say it.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Invoked when Novak wonders whether he or Milo would be quicker on the draw. Amber said Milo because he reads cowboy novels.
  • I Love the Dead: Two ends up jumping the decapitated head of one of the serial killers who storms the town.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: Kenneth the motel clerk says they do t have a website because his mother told him it's only for lerverts who want to use it for porn.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifter: The entire adult population of Desolation Hill turn into demons during Hell Night. The thing though; they love it.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Warrick is writing a comic strip based on the gang's adventures with himself portrayed in a more heroic light.
  • Master of Unlocking: Javier is able to pick the locks of he and Virgil's shackles which he learned when he played an escapologist on TV.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Amber thinks Virgil and Javier are a couple.
  • Monster Clown: Kelly has a tattoo of one she fought on her first job with her gang.
  • The Needless: Ardat-Ko was able to spend over a year trapped in a cellar without getting hungry.
  • Oblivious Mockery: Mrs Galloway tells Virgil how great it is he lives independently and says that people who live in retirement homes leech from the system. Javier points out that he lives in a retirement home and she immediately starts back pedaling and saying it's wonderful.
  • One Phone Call: Ronnie asks about it when he and Kelly get arrested but the officer says it's too late and the chief will talk to them in the morning.
  • Our Demons Are Different;
    • Jesper mentions a Demon called Demoriel who makes deals with people who have steeds or vehicles that end up linked to the demons. He's implied to be the source of Milo's power.
    • Officer Lucy Thornton's demon form is tall, broad and angular with the lines of her bones visible through her skin. She has talons for hands, no horns and green, sandpaper-like skin.
  • Painful Transformation: Inverted. Becoming a demon feels great.
  • Perpetual Smiler;
    • Lucy's demon form has a some twisted into a permanent grin.
    • Ardat-Ko who gave her her powers is aptly named the Smiling Demon due to her constant smiling, even while being eaten alive.
  • Portal Door: Mayor Jesper has a key similar to the in Dacre Shanks had that links any door to the cavern where Naberius is trapped.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Mayor Jesper has to sacrifice a soul (he finds children easier to kill) each year to maintain his longevity. He later feeds an annual soul to the trapped demon Naberius to maintain the forcefield that keeps Astaroth out of the town.
  • Power Incontinence: In Desolation, Amber and Milo have to constantly concentrate to stop from shifting into their demon forms.
  • Rear Window Witness: Virgil looks out his window and sees his neighbour getting murdered and the cops hiding the body.
  • Rejected Apology: Virgil rings Javier who's still sore about Virgil giving him the nickname, Goat-molester 40 years ago and won't accept his apology.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: It turns out beheading is the only way to kill The Hounds of Hell.
  • Rescued from the Underworld: Near the end,one of the Hounds takes Milo to Hell and Amber has to get him back.
  • Safe Zone Hope Spot: Essentially the plot. Desolation Hill is surrounded by a barrier that keeps the Shining Demon's minions out. Too bad it's got its got plenty of horrors already inside.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Naberius is trapped in a cave under Desolation and maintains the town's forcefield.
  • The Sleepless: Ardat-Ko was said to never get tired.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Lucy Thornton is the only woman ever to serve on Desolation's police force.
  • Stock Subtitle: Subverted. Desolation Hill is the main setting of the book.
  • Storyboard Body: Kelly has tattoos all over her body of all the monsters and villains she's fought.
  • Super Cop: Desolation's police force are all demons.
  • Take Me Instead: Virgil and Javier ask the Narrow Man to sacrifice them instead of a child. He agrees but says he'll sacrifice a child anyway because he doesn't want the town's votes to be for nothing and he'll take Virgil and Javier to be killed by Naberius anyway.
  • Taught by Television: The Narrow Man learned to interact with people by watching Javier on TV.
  • There Is Another: Astaroth isn't the only Shining Demon. He has a brother called Naberius who also uses the title.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Desolation Hill has a lot.
  • Vampire Variety Pack: There's said to be multiple breeds of vampire. Most of which are pack animals, implying others aren't.
  • The Voiceless: The Hounds Of Hell never talk.
  • You Killed My Father: Kirsty vows revenge for Amber for killing her husband.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Virgil's daughter won't talk to him because he cheated on her mother twice.

     American Monsters  


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