The Demon Code

BlurbsI’ve never seen the job of Book Blurb Writer advertised, but they must exist because you find their work both front and back of every paperback on sale.

They call them ‘pitches and blurbs’* you can learn the trade online, described by the organiser as: ‘Maybe the most important workshop we do. This workshop will teach you how to write great ad copy for your stories and novels. Name value, then covers, then ad copy are the top three things readers look at before sampling your book’.

Which is true, of course, even if it means you might be pitching at the wrong audience by hamming up the plot, ignoring the quality of the writing and plonking something on the cover that bears little or no relation to the actual content of the book.

The Demon CodeA case in point is The Demon Code by Adam Blake which is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time and yet I nearly didn’t buy it because of the ‘pitch and blurb’.

I picked it up and put it down again after reading the back cover and only put it back in my basket with another title on the grounds that Asda had a two for £7 offer which meant it only cost me 1p.

But I was more than pleasantly surprised. It is an engaging read with an original plot and even if religious conspiracy thrillers aren’t your thing, you can enjoy it for the quality and deftness of the writing , smart dialogue and barely a cliché in sight.

Without wishing to spoil things, the story revolves around an underground society (literally in both senses) who share the same belief in the God of the bible, but from a fundamentally different perspective. One of their number turns renegade and attempts to bring about the second coming which is rather at odds with the one we might be expecting.

There are quite a few Matrix-style fight scenes, but no demons as threatened by the front cover and neither is there the code that the reader is invited to break.

I wondered who the author might be since ‘Adam Blake is the pseudonym of an internationally best-selling novelist’. In real life, Adam Blake is Mike Carey, British writer for DC and Marvel comics among other and responsible for the likes of X-Men Legacy and Ultimate Fantastic Four.

You get a sense of that in the way he shapes his characters, all of whom are flawed in some way, the way they interact and also in his descriptions of the action.

My one disappointment is that The Demon Code is the follow-up to the earlier The Dead Sea Deception so I am reading them in reverse order, but other than that I really can’t recommend them enough – five stars.

* Blurbing has a long and dishonourable history, particularly see contextomy.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

4 comments… Add yours
  • Mr Blurby Pudding 21st September 2012

    Blurb for “Shooting Parrots” by Ian Rhodes
    This swashbuckling tale of adventure and saucy intrigue moves from the satanic mills of dreary Manchester to the bright tropical greenery of Guyana. Former mill owner, Ivan Rhododendron is seeking the legendary Well of Trivial Knowledge but instead he finds murderous plots, the secret palace of King ASDA and trembling passion in the welcoming arms of a bevvy of dusky maidens…
    “A romping good read” – Manchester Evening News
    “Lots of big words and some rude bits” – The Sun

  • Roger Green 21st September 2012

    I assume blurbs were written by some editorial assistant, not advertised as such.
    “SP shoots straight from the lip!” – Ramblin’ with Roger blog

  • Mr Parrot 21st September 2012

    YP: The bevvy of dusky maidens sounds sounds good. I shall sharpen my pencil forthwith.

    Roger: From what the online worskhop implies, it’s the authors themselves who write the blurbs. Worrying!

  • katherine 22nd September 2012

    Based on your high recommendation, I will keep a look-out for it Ian. A pity the cover also misleads.

    I’ve often regretted Terry Pratchett’s cover illustrations for the same reasons. The cheap-looking sensationalist cartoons hide some of the best writing around.


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