Demons, Dolls, & Milkshakes marks the novel debut of HWA author Nelson W. Pyles. Pyles’ short stories have been anthologized and this was not only a fun ride, but a nice entry into longer pieces of work.

Protagonists span from a bullied teenager to an unemployed, chain-smoking woman to a demon trapped in the body of a poorly sewn doll, plus a slew of supporting characters with their own agendas and foibles. Those milkshakes from the title make an appearance too. Each character is fleshed out and relatable; even the supernatural beings had issues that the reader could connect with and find examples of the same problems present in their own life.

Kick ass heroines are a dime a dozen, but Kat is something special—she’s shaken up by the paranormal encounters that have forced themselves into her unsuspecting life, but then gets over it and turns their world on its ear. I’d like to think I’d be like her if something so bizarre as demons raging in my living room and the walking dead appeared at my door one day.

Neapolitan milkshakes and fuming demons = a good night in

Two parts of Demons, Dolls, & Milkshakes surprised me—and I love written works that can do that! What I thought was a frame story to set up the main plot blossomed into so much more; it was essentially a second central plot disguised as a frame story. When characters from the original plot joined realistically and seamlessly into the second, the entire book just became that much more raucous. It was a twist I hadn’t expected.

The mythology behind the supernatural elements was original as well. Using familiar names and ideas such as the legend of Lilith as a primary demon isn’t uncommon; adding a unique spin to central idea of demon’s motivations is. So many supernatural-focused novels stick with the tried-and-true or the safe route; the demons here have a rich backstory that is well thought out and credible. If the author was so inclined, there could be several stories within their history that would be interesting to discover. Coupled with realistic reactions from their human counterparts and snappy dialogue, it’s a fun read.

Even skipping between locations and time, the entire novel was a nice change from so many first works that try to be as pretentious as possible to give themselves credibility. Although there aren’t any deep lessons to be gleaned from Demons, Dolls & Milkshakes—except maybe that the Devil is called the Prince of Lies for a reason, and that should be a red flag not to believe anything he says—it’s a recommended book for an easy, enjoyable read.

Demons, Dolls, & Milkshakes is available through on-line retailers in trade paperback and eBook format as well.