A Demon in the Desert by Ashe Armstong
Review by James Jakins
The Grimluk books have a very special place in my heart. I have to say that right up front. They scratch so many itches that are specific to me, but I know a lot of other readers will find that Grimluk is just what they need in their lives.
The author of the books will be the first to tell you that his books are “pulp trash” but he means that in only the best way possible.
Grimluk is the cowboy hero from that dime novel western your grandfather loved to read. He’s quick on the draw and just wants to help.
The one thing that sets him apart from that cowboy, though is that he’s an orc.
I first read A Demon in the Desert while on a work trip. It kept me sane and happy during a long day of flights and layovers. And that alone is enough to make me love this orc.
The story isn’t anything revolutionary, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s fun and fast enough, and with just the right mix of different genre elements that I came away satisfied.
This is one of those books that makes me love Fantasy. Especially fantasy that isn’t afraid to bend the rules. Because of course orcs are badass, revolver-toting demon hunters.
Speaking of badass orcs, Grimluk is definitely that. From the opening pages we’re shown this, and it’s just confirmed with every new trial he faces.
Now, I have to admit, I am not an expert in every genre that’s been folded into this story, but I feel like everything is represented pretty well. You’ve got same great quickdraw action, one shootout early on is very satisfying. There’s some good horror in there, too. Needs to be when you’re dealing with demons. And even a little humor. Grimluk is a master of the groan inducing “dad joke.”
Then the fantasy. Elves, dwarves, and halflings running around. Every time a new character was introduced I could see every d&d session ever when the players insist on hearing every npc’s heritage and backstory.
This classic fantasy feel, the so very Dungeons and Dragons-esque setting of this weird west world, it all works so well for me.
I will put a little disclaimer here, that this is the author’s first novel, and sometimes that shows, but that should not dissuade you from picking it up. While Grimluk might not be for everybody I think he’s a character everybody should meet, at least once.