Cover Image: The Demon Lord of California

The Demon Lord of California

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Member Reviews

I really enjoyed this story about two men who are very different from one another. Calico is hard to describe given the species he is made up of. I loved the psychic interactions between him and the demon lord Augustin who is half demon, half angel.

I have to admit there is a lot of detailed information throughout the story that helps the reader to visualize and progress through the book. But at times it seemed overwhelming a tad bit. Augustin confused me at one point considering who he is he seemed almost childlike when being put down by his father. Why he did not stand up for himself confused me. He’s an adult.

Aside from that I loved the story. It had a great cast of characters that added depth to the book. I am looking forward to seeing what else happens in the series and getting to know the characters more.

Great read.
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*This book was provided by Net Galley in exchange for an honest review*

This book drew me in from the first chapter. The world building and characters were the best thing about this book. It was great to see a LGBTQ Science Fiction book be so amazing. Quirky, cute and totally swoon worthy.
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*Possible spoilers within.*

I'll start with saying the idea of this book was great, but for me, it was poorly executed.

The entire time I was reading this book, I felt lost and confused.  It was as if I had started reading a book in the middle of a series without having read the preceding books.  There was a ton of world building, but it seemed to all have started in the middle and forgone the beginning/backstory.

Our protagonist, Lord California, Agustín, is a half angel/half demon who favors his demon side.  His father, Harper is a full angel from Heaven that now resides on earth.  Together--sort of together--they run the Infinity Corporation, a company with supernatural operatives that do...I'm not exactly sure what they do besides trying to trick and strong arm poor Calico--the other protagonist--into giving them access (and ownership) of his interdimesional portal.

Calico is an identical triplet from another dimension who, along with his brothers (who are both taller than him and therefore not identical), sought refuge on earth in the year 1900.  He's a lord of space and time, a phoenix, and lycanthrope...and a god.  Like, what?!  He's running from his great grandfather who is a warrior priest that is cursed and trying to destroy him.  And while I can understand being forced from your home, having a beloved family member under a spell that makes him want to kill you, and because of the curse some of Calico's powers are blocked being upsetting, Calico is a whiny little wimp.  He's also clearly slow-witted because no matter how many times his brothers explain to him how this world's rules and traditions differ vastly from theirs, he can't seem to catch on.  I literally wanted to reach into the book and shake some sense into him.

I hated Harper, who I believe was meant to be hated.  He comes across as a holier than thou jerk who knows what's best for everyone.  Calico, ugh!  I did like Lord California, Agustín.  And Mr. Triptych, who was the one moving the chess pieces on the board from the shadows, was the only truly obvious character.  Within a few pages of meeting him, I immediately knew who he was, and in the end I was right in my assumption.  It was done in a very heavy handed manner, using a trope I've seen in TV shows and movies galore.  But at the same time, I loved what and who he was, I just wish I hadn't been able to figure it out within minutes of meeting the character.  The other characters were okay.  The story was interesting but would have been more so if the reader wasn't left wondering how it all had come to be.

All-in-all, I had a hard time getting through this book.  It was just too confusing and all over the place for me.  However, I love the idea of the story and some of the characters and would be interested in seeing where the series goes.  I think this was a decent effort that needed more polishing.
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((Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this for an honest review))
The Demon Lord of California is set in 1900 San Francisco, in a world where supernaturals are either on the books of a corporation called Infinity, or closely watched. The human population are completely in the dark as to who their neighbours are, thanks to glamour magic called The Curtain, and Infinity works tirelessly to ensure that doesn’t change. Run by angels, also known as warrior priests in the book, the organisation is made up by a host of different species, from of course angels, to phoenixes, to everything in between. The success of Infinity is constructed by one simple fact – if you’re on the books, you work for the corporation in one of their many sectors. Everyone is always more agreeable with a paycheck and something to do, right? Agustin, the demon lord and head of the sector known as Infinity 8, begins the book by taking on a new job – getting three new occupants of the city, triplets, to join. The rumour is that one of the triplets, Calico, has managed to create a portal to other worlds, and the corporation seek to both use it to move employees around, and protect the world from an external force they’ve been battling for years. 

From there, the plot is the direct aftermath of that meeting, as well as a lead in for the rest of the series. I’ll warn you here, there’s very little of an inclusive plot here, but as an opener, it does its job well. I highly recommend you read this as the beginning of this saga, as it should be. We’re introduced to an array of characters, from the serious leader of Infinity, Mr Harper, to of course Calico and Agustin, but also the rest of Infinity 8 and the other two triplets, Maars and Frazil. We’re also treated to a menagerie of supernatural species, from the half demon, half angel Agustin, to the wildly blended Calico. Fans of work which take paranormal fantasy to it’s very limit and tests the boundaries of what is considered ‘realistic’ for the genre, will enjoy this.. I will say, though, I wasn’t a fan of the boundaries and liberties the novel took with the genre. I guess this opinion stems from the fact it’s the genre I write, and the one I’ve done years of research in, but at the end of the day, I fully respect the author’s choices. Everything was consistent throughout, and it feels like a lot of thought went into each choice.

Something that confused me, rather than not just suiting my taste, was that the triplets don’t all share the same genetics. They’re ‘identical’ until their species comes into it, and then they’re different. I understand that siblings won’t all share the same traits, but I couldn’t wrap my head around this. A prequel would do wonders, in my opinion, and would explain a lot of the world and where the triplets came from, as well as setting in stone how Calico is the only god. Speaking of Calico, something else I wasn’t particularly fond of was the romance between him and Agustin. It felt random in its introduction, and a slower burning relationship would’ve done wonders to fix this. There were also things said by the triplets, such as customs and feelings towards relationships, that need to be explained later as well.

To never critique without praise, I will say the author has done obvious research into the 1900s, and the little tid-bits provided into the setting were great. The descriptions were insightful, and the buildings in particular were easy to imagine. The author knows how to set a scene, and while there was a lot of repetition of things such as the curse, or Calico’s relations, the flow was good. Each scene was well paced, and the movement felt natural. The novel is written in third person, with either Agustin or Calico as the main POV. This worked in the novel’s favour, as the two characters are very different, and it was easy and clear to know immediately who was narrating. All of the characters, in actuality, are varied and well developed with their own personalities, but plenty of room for growth and development. I presume the author has great plans for this series and has set it up well.

All in all, this novel was interesting, pushed boundaries, and will excite readers who are fans of something different.
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I loved this book. I liked everything about its. Had the most lovely slow burn romance you could really feel the chemistry. I really hope  there a sequel. I received this book from netgallery in exchange for a honest review.
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Things I appreciated in this:  it's GAAAAAAY, the feminism was incredlby natural in the way it read (you know what I mean if you've read a badly "feminist themed novel.... you know), the pacing was fast but not choppy & the characters were hella cute.
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This was a fun read all around. I really enjoyed the characters and all of their interactions. I'll admit I have a pretty extreme bias towards any MM with a fantasy bias, but this is definitely a world I would love to read more about. The story wraps up neatly, but there's still room for a sequel that I hope we'll see!
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The Demon Lord of California by Jeanne Marcella was such a fun read. I enjoyed the characters way more than I first anticipated, they are so precious. I did enjoy the story although there were some disconnects for me, which I'll get to in a moment.

A few things I loved about this book:
- It's the year 1900 and the aesthetics are EVERYTHING!
- M/m (interracial!) relationship. I found myself giggling often because they are just so cute!
- One of the MCs works in a bakery so there's an abundance of yummy food, and you know how I am about mixing my fantasy and my baking. (I'm looking at you The Confectioner's Guild.)
- Lots of feminism, queer, POC, and mixed-species rep!
- The cultural realisticness of the time period (towards queer folks, women, polyamory, how the cities in CA smell like garbage which will forever transcend time, etc).

"It was cake unlike any he had ever seen in his life. It wasn't just the chocolate garnishes molded into jagged, dramatic trees that caught the eye. It was the three-dimensional miniature dragon basking atop the cake's surface."

CHOCOLATE DRAGON, IN A CHOCOLATE FOREST?! I'd totally devour that cake, just saying.

◆ Agustín: Demon Lord of California, heir to Infinity Corporation, leader of Infinity 8, and self-made billionaire. Agustín is Mexican and mixed-species (half demon, half angel) with dark skin, long dark hair, one blue eye, and one honey-amber eye. Anime watchers can already tell he's going to be badass, we know what's up. He's also either Pan or Bi, showing interest in both women and men. He's ALSO also a total sugar daddy in every sense of the word as he seems to be an older gentleman, has a serious sweet tooth (I couldn't help myself here, he was constantly giving me cravings for sweets), and spoils his love interest with wild abandon.

"You will not come into my pristine bakery, or touch my faultless creations, while covered in unmentionables."

◆ Calico: Passionate baker, business owner, and family man. He loves his brothers (he's a triplet!) and his bakery they all work at together more than anything in the world, and it really shows through his confections. He's so shy and proper, it's adorable! And he has a pony! I just loved Calico straightaway, I can't even. Calico appears to be white and is also mixed-species (phoenix, God of Space and Time?!) with creamy pale skin, dark hair with one shaved side, and warm brown eyes. It would seem that he's Gay as we only see his interest in men, but he's oh so timid of exploring feelings of that nature.

"Agustín calmly met this man's infuriated glare, especially since the baker was using a loaf of fresh-baked bread as a weapon. Agustín's heart thumped faster. Sweat beaded his brow, and his stomach was doing delightful somersaults. It took all his control not to lean forward, take hold of the fluffy length, and suck. Or bite."

From the beginning we have so much confusing information laid on us as if we were being thrown into the middle of a story, and this was fairly consistent throughout, so much so that I had wondered if this was either mid-series or part of a spinoff series - however it is in fact the first book in an original series. Not much of the information is explained very well, and because of that it felt disjointed for me so I was less likely to make a connection long enough to understand or care about the situation.

I was quickly taken with Agustín and Calico's relationship, which was so wholesome and innocent (okay I know I just mentioned bread-sucking, but it's innocent I promise!), and I just found them so endearing. While I really truly loved them, I felt like so much of the story leaned on their chemistry. Not much happens, aside from them working through their infatuations (insta-lust turned insta-love in all but a few days), and then towards the end there was a slew of confusing action sequences that, for me, came on way too quickly. The seriousness felt forced because of the missing information mixed with the rushed plot. Tweaking the pacing could really improved these issues.

"You are here, and there. The essence of the chaotic universe, of the in between. Of past. Present. Future. I've come to acknowledge and adore that which is you. All coiled and contained within this physical presence standing before me. A combination I've come to greatly admire."

With all that said, my favorite parts centered around Agustín and Calico, I couldn't get enough of their whirlwind romance. Their story really touches on the vulnerability of opening up to another person, how intimacy varies for each individual, the frightening headrush of first love, and that feeling of falling so hard for someone you would do anything in your power to make sure they're safe and happy at any cost. I also REALLY LOVED the respectful dialogue between them, and how they're willing to apologize for their mistakes and accept each other's feelings and differences. Their friends and siblings were phenomenally supportive and caring, especially Maars and Fraazil the best brothers ever. I'm also very interested in Triptych and Charlotte, they bring so much mystery to the table and I wish their characters had been expanded on more. I feel like this could be a really sweet and adorable queer romance slice-of-life, sans the whole saving the world thing. Such scandal!

Thank you to Broad Universe for providing me with this eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

The quotes provided were taken from an eARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content Warnings for violence, past loss of a loved one, toxic/violent families, robbery, house fires, light mention of homophobia, and heavy themes surrounding adultery ('bastard' children, cultural/religious views). ♡
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I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this book, as I had never read something in the LGBTQ Science Fiction/Fantasy Realm before. Overall, I enjoyed the book, and finished it pretty quickly. 

Some of the strongest points for the book were the detailed world building and characterization of the diverse cast of characters. That being said, while the world building had great detail, sometimes that detail seemed misplaced and left the reader with more questions than answers. There were many things about the world-building that I loved, but there were also a lot of details that were necessary to keep track of, and at times this could be slightly confusing. Even with this, the plot was engaging, and I was driven to finish, to find out what would happen to the characters that were so easy to love. 

The characters were my favorite part of this book, with 2 main characters that were well developed as well as a plethora of supporting characters that also had interesting lives and character development, it was easy to get invested. The only thing I struggled with in getting to know the characters was their very interesting backgrounds and histories that we didn't get a lot of information on early on. I expect more development and backstory to be filled in in the sequel. 

Overall, an enjoyable read, and a great first foray into LGBTQ Science Fiction/Fantasy.
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