The Demi-Monde (Winter) by Rod Rees (a review)

‘It is the year 2018. The presidents daughter, (Norma Williams), has gone missing inside the US military’s nightmarish virtual training ground for urban warfare- The Demi-Monde!
The Demi-Monde is the most sophisticated, complex and unpredictable computer simulation, ever built.
Among its thirty million inhabitants, some of the most terrifying and fanatical historical figures reside, including: Nazi SS butcher Reinhard Heydrich, Stalins arch-executioner Laventii Beria, Aleistair Crowley, and Mathew Hopkins- among others.
These duplicates of The Demi-Monde- or “Dupes” as they are referred to- have the cyber world locked into a never ending cycle of hatred and civil war.
Enter Ella Thomas: The Presidents daughter’s last hope. Ella must immerse herself in the virtual killing fields of the Demi-Monde and rescue Norma Williams. The clock is ticking, and the real world stands once again against the tyranny of our own technological creation.’

As this is book one in the series, The Demi-Monde (Winter) explores some fantastic themes, and plunges the reader right into the thick of it. The character exploration is brilliant and it will be very exciting to read the rest of the books in the series to see how the characters develop and mature and the attitudes of the Demi-Monde’s inhabitants (and visitors) all contribute to a very fractious environment.
Rod Rees weaves intricate technology with histories most dangerous characters. The Demi-Monde contains elements of a dystopian SF with elements of steampunk, (technology within the computer programme is held at 1870).
The historical “dupes” are fantastic choices by the author and not at all obvious. My personal favourite is Archie Clement, who in our history was an acolyte of Jesse James, and was once a confederate guerilla, known for his brutality against Union troops in the American Civil War; he is particularly vile and tenacious but makes a fantastic villain.

I found the Demi-Monde an exciting read. A real page turner from start to finish. Two of my favourite characters are Baron Dashwood and his Butler Crockett. I would love to see Dashwood and Crockett in their own novel series, like a victorian esque Miami Vice.

Although it is a novel that explores serious themes of religion, gender, and class and cultures among other themes- it is decorated with points of light humour which is a lovely nuance to the darkness within the Demi-Monde. Some of Colonel Vanka Maykov, and Burlesque Bandstand’s conversations are particularly funny.
The historical elements throughout the novel are very well done and anyone who has an interest in history will be fascinated by the way Rod Rees has manipulated them within this cyber setting.
All in all, I highly recommend The Demi-Monde (winter) a fantastic read from start to finish. The concept is well executed as are the themes explored. The wordbuilding is magnificent as is the authors use of wordplay.

The Demi-Monde series is published by Jo Fletcher Books

Till next time, Insomniacs!

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