In HOW TO RECOGNIZE A DEMON HAS BECOME YOUR FRIEND, the idea of `demon' is given free rein, the result being tales that embrace and explore an extraordinary range of possibilities. Above all, Addison's stories offer unexpected extremes. They range from depictions of hard-edged, open-mawed, tentacled monstrosities to rapid-fire sketches of whimsical, at times comic aliens (I'm thinking here of the story about the barkeeper's hair!). From external demons that must be destroyed to internal ones so deeply ingrained in the secrets of the human heart that it takes decades for the victim to realize how completely she has been possessed, and makes the reader consider things carefully before discovering where in the story the demon hides.
Here you will find a zombie perplexed by the sudden awareness of a same-sex attraction...to a living being; and the zombie's agonizing, contradictory desires to consume and to consummate. A corpse whose only wish is to become disenfleshed...and who faces the horrifying possibility of resurrection. A group of scientists who confront the most alien beings of all...or at least a distinctive artifact from that alien culture. A child whose concept of the devil is frighteningly literal and terrifyingly concrete.
Here you will travel page-by-page from vaguely-limned, visionary landscapes to the gritty realism (if that's the proper word for such rich fantasies) of a seedy bar. From the direct narratives of "The Power" and "Milez to Go"--companion tales that that help to bracket the collection--to exercises in alternative possibilities: computer reports, e-mails, pages from tourist guides.
Throughout, Addison never loses her way, whether conjuring a poem-vignette in a dozen or so finely crafted lines, or spinning a tale over multiple pages. As befits her status as an award-winning author--two Bram Stoker Awards from the Horror Writers of America--HOW TO RECOGNIZE A DEMON HAS BECOME YOUR FRIEND showcases a fine writer at ease in her medium. Words seem to flow effortlessly, in precisely the correct style for the story being told. Lines of verse give structure and form to far-reaching, emotionally intensive evocations of time and space.
The first poem in the collection is "How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend"; the final entry is "How to Recognize Your Friend Has Become a Demon." With that seemingly-simple play on word order and ambiguity, Addison provides an architectonic for her work--each story, each poem continues the transformation of human into other-than-human, of demon into other-than-demon.