Book Review – The Demon of Hagermarsh by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus

Virasana Empire: Sir Yaden #1
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: 194
Characters: Yaden/Colin, Darios
POV: 3rd
Genre: High Fantasy, Series

“The Emperor cares for each and every one of his subjects.”

Many consider the catchphrase of the imperial Lotus Knights to be nothing more but well-polished propaganda, but for Yaden, it is a way of life.

A young Lotus Knight himself, his first mission in service of the Emperor sends him to the remote village of Hagermarsh, a suspiciously friendly place on a planet known for its inhospitable people. But how to uncover a demonist coven when nothing bad ever happens?

Getting to know the villagers only makes things more difficult – the motherly fishmonger surely isn’t a demonist. Nor the gruff leader of the local militia. And definitely not the cute baker from across the street.

Or are they?

Come discover a dazzling, hopeful universe of knights and monsters, of psions, aliens and ancient deities! The Demon of Hagermarsh is the first book of ‘Sir Yaden’, an epic SF saga of grand adventure, romance, bromance and family, set in the multi-faceted Virasana Empire. It is a romantic adventure and can be read as a standalone.

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I loved how this story juxtaposed fantasy expectations with modernity. The blurb sets up for a medieval setting, and yet the setting has a touch of a modern world. The world building is fabulous, as is the magic system. I loved the idea of demon magic smelling like mouldy mushrooms. I also liked that there are consequences for using magic, and that the user has to replenish the energy they’ve used.

Having the story told in 3rd person for the present, and the flashbacks in 1st, yet having the two parts of the stories working together was an original way to tell it. I liked the insight it gave to both the main characters—and the different perspectives of their class—as the story unfolded, neither spoiling the other. The switch between made it clearer whether I was reading the current storyline or the prequel/history part of it too.

Yaden is an interesting character. I loved his power, which is very cool, and I liked that way he’s powerful, yet very young, and has a lot to learn especially about relationships and romance. I enjoyed seeing him through Darios’ eyes, and learning about Darios’ history too. Yaden’s growing romance with Colin is very sweet. I liked the two of them together, and Colin as a person too.

Another strength of this story is the descriptions. They give a great sense of atmosphere and I had a clear picture of every scene. The village feels like a typical small village with the gossip and matchmaking, and I thought the demonic side of it was an interesting twist on how those kinds of stories—and reasons behind deals with demons—usually play out.

I loved the idea of the Lotus Knights, plus the fact they have a PR department making movies, and selling merchandise, based around the knights’ missions. A lot of this story is very different and original, which I thought was brilliant. I enjoyed the final showdown, and liked that it wasn’t an easy fight, and that Yaden makes mistakes. It adds a sense of realism to the story, and his character.

I also liked Yaden’s friend, Haakon, and would love to see more of him.

I was very happy to learn this is the first in a series, and looking forward to reading more of Yaden’s adventures. Further research found an online wiki, which is a very cool idea!

I’d recommend this story to reader who enjoy fantasy that is a little different and a lot of fun, fabulous world building, and endearing characters. 5 out of 5 stars.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at
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