Almost Demon (Sigil Cycle #1) by AJ Salem

Almost Demon - AJ Salem
Gemma has finally returned to school after the accident – the accident in which her twin brother and her two best friends died. The accident that half the town and most of the school blames on her.
That’s a lot to deal with. Thankfully she has some distractions with an after-school book club that comes with lessons on how to summon demons
But summoning demons isn’t a mere amusement – with people of the town being possessed by the shadowy Dybbuk in greater and greater numbers, Gem’s ability to summon angels and demons may be the only thing to save them all.
All of that is excellent. It’s fascinating. It’s intriguing. It has elements I have rarely seen in any other book. It has an amazing foundation. I could love this book. I could love this series. It could very easily be one of my favourites. I love the idea of summoning angels and demons and the tattoos they leave behind. I love the idea of channelling their powers and creating debts and favours and working to discover exactly which angel or demon you need for each job. I really like the way that the demons and angels are portrayed – human but not with lots of edges.
The descriptions, especially of the alien realms, are really vivid and powerful. Gem herself is well described and characterised and makes for a solid protagonist
The idea behind the story is truly excellent and one I really enjoyed. The demonic plotting and Gem’s slow learning as more and more of the supernatural is revealed to her, the Dybbuk, lost souls possessing people and slowly consuming the entire town adds a perfectly created sense of urgency that really drives the plot and the decisions. Their actions both make the story very personal as people Gem loves are affected while also being almost apocalyptic in the damage it could unleash on the world, let alone the town.
Yes. But.
But there were elements that I thought were completely unnecessary additions that served to confuse the story – such as the headmistress of the school being a witch. She added nothing to the story, she did very little, she achieved nothing but a distraction.


An integral element of this story is that everyone blames Gem for her brother and her best friends’ death. The reasoning behind this, even when explained, is convoluted and confusing to say the least and, again, it adds nothing to the story beyond a need to add an extra layer of angst on Gem. And having just lost her twin brother and 2 best friends, was there any need to up the ante on the angst dial? Instead it was a clumsy tool to create a clumsy Mean Girl whose purpose was pretty much limited to being a Mean Girl. We then got to see a large number of people persecuting a grieving girl who lost 3 people she loved for those people’s deaths – it was unnecessary, pretty difficult to believe (how many people would think attacking her in this manner was remotely acceptable – let alone a majority?) and it just didn’t add one single relevant note to the story.