The Demon of Decay, by Alex C. Gates, is a religious horror about how easy it can be to corrupt someone just from their deepest desires.
Joseph “Joe” Daniels is struggling to impregnate his wife, Victoria. He’s sitting in a doctor’s office getting tested, when he meets his former pastor, a man who murdered his daughter’s ex-boyfriend. The encounter spurs him to see his Aunt and Uncle, both of whom need help. After convincing Victoria to go see them, the two head to their house. However, the moment he steps foot in their home, he’s horrified by how much things have changed. His beloved Aunt is dying, as is his town. As time passes, he notices a decadence eating away at the residents, a decadence that eventually catches up to he and Victoria. In this dark story, Gates delivers a simple message about what happens when humans decide to chain themselves to their lusts, all the while ignoring their crumbling morality.
I loved Victoria and Joseph. Victoria took a traditionally masculine role in order to support their growing family, which, according to Joseph, left him with nothing. It shows just how deeply embedded his expectations are. He felt useless. At the very least, he wanted to give Victoria what she wanted, so much so he almost killed for it. But more than that, he would do whatever it took to regain some amount of control in their control. And it was at that moment that the Demon of Decay was able to take over. After all, it turned an entire town upside down, dragging its residents to hell, so what was one more person? His problems is a struggle that many men could relate to. So much value has been placed on fertility in order to cement a man’s masculinity, and to have someone or something take that away is frightening. However, that doesn’t necessarily excuse him from his actions, no matter how empathetic, or even pathetic, he tries to make himself out to be.
This in turn, led not just Joseph, but also an entire town, to turn against their loved ones and themselves. Family units are degraded, and societal conventions are tossed aside, all for the sake of their own wants. Right and wrong are reversed, all in the guise of a medication that promises to cure everyone of their diseases, physical or psychological. This concept references the Bible, and how the Devil will disguise himself as an angel of light, misleading and destroying others who are naive enough to be caught up in it. This also extends to drugs and medicine, and how simple it could be to rely on one drug, so much so you’d do anything to get it. It reflects America’s struggles with the opiod crisis, or at the very least, our dependence on medicines for everything, even something as natural as pain. In other words, we rely too much on miracle cures, hoping for something that’s too good to be true. Because no matter what reality says, if someone says they can fix our problems, at the very least, we’ll want to believe them.
Overall, I would give this book a rating of a 4.5 out of 5.0 stars. The characters were all relatable, alongside their struggles. What’s more, the demon was very convincing, so much so I can’t help but wonder what I would do in their position. However, Gates also reminds us that there is no easy way out, whether it be some medicine, or promise, or even a misguided faith. As such, I would recommend this book to fans of The Devil in Black Creek by D.R Bartlette and Clemenceau’s Daughter by Rocky Porch Moore.