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The Demonologist

The Demonologist

A Novel

  • reading group guide
**WINNER OF THE 2014 THRILLER AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL**

Fans of The Historian won’t be able to put down this spellbinding literary horror story in which a Columbia professor must use his knowledge of demonic mythology to rescue his daughter from the Underworld.

Professor David Ullman is among the world’s leading authorities on demonic literature, with special expertise in Milton’s Paradise Lost. Not that David is a believer—he sees what he teaches as a branch of the imagination and nothing more. So when the mysterious Thin Woman arrives at his office and invites him to travel to Venice and witness a “phenomenon,” he turns her down. She leaves plane tickets and an address on his desk, advising David that her employer is not often disappointed.

That evening, David’s wife announces she is leaving him. With his life suddenly in shambles, he impulsively whisks his beloved twelve-year-old daughter, Tess, off to Venice after all. The girl has recently been stricken by the same melancholy moods David knows so well, and he hopes to cheer her up and distract them both from the troubles at home.

But what happens in Venice will change everything.

First, in a tiny attic room at the address provided by the Thin Woman, David sees a man restrained in a chair, muttering, clearly insane… but could he truly be possessed? Then the man speaks clearly, in the voice of David’s dead father, repeating the last words he ever spoke to his son. Words that have left scars—and a mystery—behind.

When David rushes back to the hotel, he discovers Tess perched on the roof’s edge, high above the waters of the Grand Canal. Before she falls, she manages to utter a final plea: Find me.

What follows is an unimaginable journey for David Ullman from skeptic to true believer. In a terrifying quest guided by symbols and riddles from the pages of Paradise Lost, David must track the demon that has captured his daughter and discover its name. If he fails, he will lose Tess forever.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451697421 | 
  • March 2014
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THE DEMONOLOGIST

“Smart, thrilling, and utterly unnerving. Pyper’s gift is that he deeply respects his readers, yet still insists on reducing them to quivering children. I like that in a writer.” — Gillian Flynn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of GONE GIRL ...

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Reading Group Guide

These questions are intended to facilitate discussion in your reading group, and may contain spoilers.

The Demonologist – Reading Group Questions
Discuss your initial reaction to the first page of the novel (Tess’s “real dream”). Did your feelings about this passage change as you read the rest of the novel? If so, how, and why?

In the opening pages, David argues to his students that to read Paradise Lost is to know that “hell is real. Not as a fiery pit, not a place above or below but in us, a place in the mind. To know ourselves and, in turn, to endure the perpetual reminder of our solitude” (6). Do you agree with this definition of hell?

David has cultivated a career in contradictions: “an atheist biblical scholar. A demon expert who believes evil to be a manmade invention ... My justification for these apparent contradictions is that there are some things that bear meaning, culturally speaking, without actually existing. The Devil, angels. Heaven. Hell. They are part of our lives even if we never have and never will see them, touch them, prove them to be real” (7). To support his position, David quotes Milton: “The mind is its own place, and in it self / Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” Discuss how this passage foreshadows the events to come. Do you think that David’s hell exists in the tangible world? Or is a product see more

Articles About This Book

Paradiselost5_500

Posted on Tips on Life & Love

Posted by Andrew Pyper

I write about the supernatural in my fiction. But do I personally believe in it? Do ghosts, demons, spirits–the things that do the bumping in the mythical night–really exist?

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About the Author

Andrew Pyper
Photograph by Heidi Pyper

Andrew Pyper

Andrew Pyper is the award-winning author of six internationally bestselling novels. Lost Girls won the Arthur Ellis Award, was selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and appeared on the New York Times and Times (UK) bestseller lists. The Killing Circle was a New York Times Best Crime Novel of the Year. Three of Pyper’s novels, including The Demonologist, are in active development for feature film.

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