Meet Kara Gillian!

I recently discovered a book series that I wanted to share: Diana Rowland's Kara Gillian books. They grabbed me from the very beginning. At the time I found them, four books had been published. I read through them fairly quickly. Kara was an engaging heroine with just the right blend of strength and vulnerability, the side characters were interesting, and the plots kept me wondering. Then the fourth book, Sins of the Demon, ended with a heart-stopping cliffhanger....

Kara Gillian's 5th book is out AT LAST!!!
I waited on pins and needles for six months for the next book, Touch of the Demon. And boy, did I have a wonderful surprise to reward my (im)patience! This book introduced a new, vividly drawn, utterly fantastical realm, rich with the unpredictability one might expect of a different dimension, and infused the series with a whole new level of possibilities. I was a fan before, but I am smitten now and cannot wait to see where Rowland takes Kara's story next. The opportunities are seemingly endless!

So after the jump, let me tell you about Kara and her story...

In the beginning: murder mystery, magic, and demons

The first four books are police thrillers with paranormal elements — murder mysteries mixed with magic and demons. Like your typical city police department's regular day, only weirder. And scarier!

Our series heroine, Kara Gillian, is a homicide detective in the police force of Beaulac, Louisiana. She is intelligent, courageous, and loves her job. I like the fact that, although she is a tough detective who excels at her job and is skilled with guns, she has vulnerabilities. She is not a perfect heroine, and she grows up along with the story in the books.

Kara keeps people at arm's length because she has a secret. She is a Summoner of Demons, a mortal who can summon demons from the other realm. Not many people can do that; one must be born with this ability and study under a summoner instructor to fully realize and maintain the ability. Summoning is not easy, and can be dangerous if not done properly. In spite of Kara's loneliness and longings, she has a job to do that she puts first.
The demons in this story are not the demons from hell we are familiar with in other books. Not at all, though some of them are cryptic and unfriendly. They are beings from another plane of existence that regularly intersects with our own world. Whenever our world and theirs are in convergence and the moon phases are right, demons can be summoned to our world. The more powerful the demons, the less they like being summoned – the summoner must build protections before the summoning and prepare offerings to solicit the demons' cooperation. There are 12 kinds or levels of demons, made up of all shapes, sizes, and abilities. On the highest level stand the Demon Lords, who are very powerful, and often very attractive and sexy, but also kind of scary.

In Diana Rowland’s words:
I created my demons to be arcane creatures from an alternate sphere of existence. They have vastly different motivations and ideals – which are logical and reasonable to them, but might be horrifying to humans. They’re complex and alien, which I hope also makes them interesting.
Interview, Chat and Contest with Author Diana Rowland

Kara is a novice at summoning, and in the first book she somehow ends up summoning a Demon Lord. Not that she means to – of course she doesn’t. She knows it is very dangerous to summon a Demon Lord! This one, Rhyzkahl (rhymes with "please call"), is both terrifying and sexy. Kara's life changes from the moment he arrives in ways that neither she nor I expected!

No, I am not going to spill the beans here. I will tell you, though, that books 1–4 have one or more murder investigations going on. Kara is working to solve these crimes with the town police force; sometimes the police help her, other times they try to sabotage her efforts. She also has some help from others: assorted friends, two sexy FBI agents, and a few demons. She uses her summoning ability in these investigations and gets tangled in a web of mysteries, murders, and demons.

A little tease about each book

Here is a brief description of the first four books from Diana Rowland's website:

  • Book 1, Mark of the Demon: When Homicide Detective Kara Gillian finds traces of arcane power on a body, she quickly realizes that this is no ordinary murder. The serial killer known as the Symbol Man is a nightmare that Beaulac, Louisiana thought had ended three years ago, but now he's back for an encore and leaving every indication on the flesh of his victims that he is well-versed in demonic lore. However, Kara is a Summoner of Demons, and may be the only cop on the city's small force who can stop the killer. Able to see and interact with a world most people can't, Kara must draw on her skills as a police officer and master of the arcane to stop the Symbol Man from killing again and possibly summoning something even she can't control. But with a demonic lord of unearthly beauty and power haunting her dreams, and a handsome yet disapproving FBI agent dogging her waking footsteps, she may be in way over her head.

  • Book 2, Blood of the Demon: The serial killer known as the Symbol Man has been dealt with, the demonic lord Rhyzkahl is no longer invading her dreams, and Detective Kara Gillian is doing her best to get her life back to normal ... Her investigations into the deaths of several seemingly unrelated victims reveal disturbing links to the arcane, with unsettling similarities to her own situation ... There's little about Kara's life that is ever normal or simple.
    White-blond hair like river of silk cascaded over me as he bent to kiss me. "Do you miss my touch yet, dear one?" His ancient eyes were alight with crystalline amusement. I looked up at him, narrow-eyed. "Yes and no."
  • Book 3, Secrets of the Demon: Kara is trying to solve a string of murders that are somehow tied together by money, sex, rock music and...mud. But how can she concentrate on the case when she's not even sure who-or what-her partners are?
    I told him about me being a summoner, and what that entailed. At the end of he simply gave gave a long sigh. "Why couldn't you simply be an alcoholic like all the other detectives?" I grinned. "Demon summoning has less vomiting!"
  • Book 4, Sins of the Demon: People who've hurt Kara in the past are dropping dead for no apparent reason. To clear her name and save both the demon and human worlds, she's in a race against the clock and in a battle for her life that just may take her to hell and back.
    My demon bodyguard kicked ass. Unfortunately, every now and then that ass was mine.

Book 5, Touch of the Demon, is different, and I fell for it head over heels. After waiting breathlessly for 6 months, I must say the wait was worthwhile! I love this book so much that I want to describe it in my own words.

Rowland dove deep into the fantasy realm here, and in a big way. This story happens in the demon world, described as vividly as a painting: its natural landscape and inhabitants, buildings and palaces, the demons, and the arcane.

The tables have been turned on Kara, and she has to keep her wits about her, use all her experience as a detective and her arcane knowledge to keep herself from being used in an awful way. The plot here has many twists and turns, and some of it I did not expect at all! I love it when a book surprises me like that!!

I read some negative reviews about this book, and I know they were due to it being different than the previous books. Those who were expecting another police/murder investigation were disappointed, but I feel that the differences enrich and refresh the plot, and inject more layers and color into the story.

What I enjoyed about Kara's story

Diana Rowland richly blends police thriller with Urban Fantasy. She depicts the complexities of police investigations with interesting, accurate detail. I understand this is due to the fact that she has worked as, among other things, a street cop, a detective, a computer forensics specialist, a crime-scene investigator, and a morgue assistant. Yes, she does know what she is writing about!

I love the way Kara’s story unfolds. Every new book reveals answers to previous mysteries, while replacing them with new questions that keep you hooked. I love the fact that I couldn't figure out too quickly who the murderer was — and in one case, I couldn't see the ending coming at all! Every time I thought I'd figured it out, a new twist came along that changed the perspective of the plot. Cleverly done!

The story has a good amount of suspense, is fast paced, and is full of humor. One hilarious episode in Touch of the Demon portrays some demons having a snowball fight! The demon world is described beautifully; one can really get the feeling of this world, and its details are fascinating to me. The same goes for Kara and her struggles. Her main problem is her trust issue; she does not trust the people around her, she struggles to find out whom she can trust, and she questions herself repeatedly. Throughout her journey, she get to know herself and finds some shocking revelations — about herself and her connections to the demon world.

There are five books in the series so far, and Rowland plans a total of 8 or 9 books by the time she's done. After reading book 5, I can say that I'm looking forward very much to enjoying as many books as she will write for me!

Evil is often a matter of perception. Even the most powerful get screwed. The world was at stake, and he had to make a terrible choice. Sometimes the punishment fits the crime far too well.
Touch of the Demon

And so, esteemed readers, this is my take on a series that I am really glad I discovered. I hope you have enjoyed this little peek and are perhaps now curious enough to read Kara's story, too! I would love to hear what others think of her and her books!


  1. I love the post Merit! And, I love these books. Kara is an amazing character, and the world she lives in is colourful and mysterious. Can't wait for the next book in the series.

  2. Thank you for this review, Merit. I had not heard of these, but they are definitely on my TBR list now! I'm especially intrigued by the fantasy elements becoming more prominent.

    1. Thank you, I'm happy to introduce more readers to this wonderful series. Special thanks to you Kathi, for your support and understanding.

  3. What a great review Merit and it makes me even more interested and excited, than before, in reading the first one as soon as I can, since a certain Wench has given me that task this year :)

  4. These sound really interesting. Adding another to my list. :)


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