Jagmarith, Demon champion of the Blood Wars, is enjoying his life of training for battle, polishing his armor, and the occasional act of violence, when he is suddenly ripped from his realm into the human world. Jag isn’t sure who is more surprised to find himself there — him or the awkward, timid-seeming human who summoned him.
Ethan never thought the summoning spell would actually work, and suddenly he has a giant, red, horned demon standing in his basement. What’s worse is that Ethan has no idea how to get Jag back to his own world. As it turns out, the spell Ethan used has Jag stuck there until Ethan gets his heart’s desire, which in this case is his attempt to make his ex-boyfriend jealous. So with a little help from Jag’s familiar, they manage to transform Jag so he appears human and he and Ethan head to a Christmas party where Ethan’s ex is likely to appear. Unfortunately, nothing quite goes according to plan, but Ethan and Jag find out that they are actually quite enjoying each other’s company.
Months later, the men have settled into a life together despite all odds. Jag is learning more about the human world, though he still finds so many of their rules and traditions inexplicable. I mean, why aren’t beheading and flaying reasonable alternatives when people get really difficult? But he loves Ethan and the life they are building together. However, Jag was never meant to be in the human realm this long and some crazy and dangerous things are starting to happen in response. In fact, the closer the men get to one another, the worse the fallout seems to get. Now that Ethan and Jag have found one another and are making a happy life together, they must find a way to keep Jag in the human world before they lose one another — or destroy the world in the process.
Ethan & Jag Destroy the World is a quirky, fun, and pretty adorable story about a demon and his human love. This book is actually made up of two stories, so sort of a mini-anthology. Demon All the Way was a holiday story released last year (and available for free on Maddox’s website). It makes up about the first 40% of this book and my understanding is that it has not been changed from the original version. It focuses on Jag’s arrival and the men attending the Christmas party. The second story, Ethan & Jag Destroy the World, picks up about 9 months later in time for a Halloween-themed story. I never ready the original story, so I read this book straight through (and you are definitely going to want to start with Demon All the Way if you haven’t read it yet in order to understand the set up of the second story). So new readers, start from the beginning of this book; those that read the first story already can start about halfway through here.
I found this one a lot of fun and super cute and entertaining. Jag is this huge, sort of war-mongering demon (without a war to fight as the demon realms have mostly called a truce) who suddenly ends up in the human world. Ethan is a somewhat nerdy linguist who somehow managed to get Jag to his world, but then can’t get him home. In the first story, the focus is on the fake relationship designed to get Ethan’s ex jealous and find a way to send Jag home, but it turns out Jag and Ethan fall for each other instead. There is a fun “fish out of water” element here as Jag tries to adapt to the human world. He is familiar with some things, as he has heard many stories about this realm, so he is not completely out of his element. But there are lots of points of confusion, as well as some culture clash as Jag’s world is much more violent and he doesn’t always understand why tearing someone apart can’t be the simple solution. It makes for a lot of laughs and some charming moments, like when Jag tries to decorate Christmas cookies to help Ethan — and ends up turning the gingerbread men into headless victims and the Christmas trees into spears because he doesn’t understand what they are really supposed to be. The first story is told from Jag’s POV, which I found fun, as it really highlights his confusion about this new world in which he finds himself.
By the second story, the guys have settled into a relationship and are happy together, only to have that at risk of being torn apart. They are forced to figure out why all these strange things are happening, and how to stop it all without forcing Jag to return to his own world. Jag and Ethan have become a team by now, and even though Jag still at times doesn’t totally get the human realm, he is willing to do anything to make Ethan happy. I loved how Ethan comes across as sort of shy and timid, but he is all over his demon and gets totally turned on by Jag in his demon form. So I really liked these guys together and found them fun.
As much as I enjoyed Jag’s POV in the first book, I do feel like it takes some time to get to know Ethan. At times he feels like the straight man foil for Jag, more than fully fleshed out character in the early part of the book. But that does improve, particularly as we get his POV as well in the second story. We also sort of skip over a lot of the relationship building, as the 9-month time jump between stories means we go from a mild HFN where the men are just getting to know each other, to the guys having already fallen for each other in the second story. Still, I found myself rooting for Ethan and Jag and enjoying their relationship. Basically, I think it works best to think of this book as two connected short stories, rather than as one long book, and it makes more sense why some of these areas aren’t fully developed. I’ll also just say that in the first book, in particular, I found it somewhat distracting that at times Jag is totally clueless about elements of the human world, and at others, he is casually using everyday terms and slang and knows exactly what things are or how they work. It is nothing major, but for some reason I found it bothered me to see him go back and forth between clueless and proficient and I wanted a little more consistency. However, as the book progresses and Jag gets more used to the human world, this is less of an issue.
In the end, I found this one fun and charming. Ethan and Jag are quirky and a bit crazy, but also adorable together. If you are looking for something light and easy with a nice fish-out-of-water vibe and a little bit of holiday flair, give this one a try.