Eudaimonia: Having a good attendant or indwelling spirit.
The Eudaimonia books by Micah Thomas so far consist of a novel (The Little Demons Inside), and two collections of connected short stories (Evidence of Changes Volumes 1 and 2). The second novel (The Ghosts We Hide) is out in a couple of weeks. I binge-read the first three books back to back, and wanted to tell you all about them.
From the back cover of The Little Demons Inside:
This is not a love story, but there is love. This is not a horror story, but there are horrors. This is not a true story, but there is truth.
In 2017, something went wrong with the world. Or, at least, in 2017, everyone finally saw it. Henry needed to get off the streets to avoid the heat and volunteered for an experimental drug trial. The permanent side effects made his life dangerous and unpredictable.
Henry doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t know his place. He’s a broken version of a wandering superhero. Then he meets Cassie. Their connection is brief and intense. These two lost souls are propelled together, apart, and together again in a mind-bending adventure that challenges them to face their demons.
Content Warning: This book contains vulgar language and depictions of violence and moral decay against humans, including but not limited to psychic possession and sexual acts under said possession.
We have long been obsessed with the idea that there are spaces, dimensions, or worlds beyond the physical. It is one of the things I repeatedly reference in my own fiction, and something I’ve been reading a lot about recently in terms of consciousness theories and psychedelic research reports. In the Eudaimonia series, Micah Thomas explores the possibilities of such spaces, and he does so beautifully. You see, not only do these stories have a strong socio-philosophical element, but they are also gripping, accessible and heartfelt: something that makes a book irresistible to me.
One of the things I loved most about these books is the realness of the characters. Thomas casts his world with a whole range of diversity: he isn’t afraid to write other races, genders, backgrounds or sexualities. The main focus in The Little Demons Inside is upon a homeless ex-junkie and an ex-military nurse, both trying to get their fragmented lives together. In the short stories there’s an isolated writer of fan-fiction, a headstrong career woman, a stinking ex-con and a social media celebrity. Thomas does a wonderful job of showing all facets of their personalities, which drives home the idea that nobody is all ‘good’ or all ‘bad’. Everyone judges others, everyone battles for self-preservation, everyone feels empathy and wants to connect. We all have our addictions. In fact, it is perhaps our particular flaws and struggles that make us – us.
More than just the personal, The Little Demons Inside deals with much larger, political concerns, too. Between the lines, Thomas shares observations on the way today’s societies work, and what it might take to break down our systems. It made me think: what if we’re covering the wrong threats? What if, by ignoring the extremes of unusual mind experiences in favour of the physical, we’re brushing something under the carpet that could come back to bite – or save – us? And what if our capitalist, egotistical dreams only amplify that in one direction or the other? The collective unconscious might not have a physical presence, but it’s very real. Could we deal with literal spiritual warfare of our own making?
The subjective nature of mental states makes them nearly impossible to study in a scientific environment. We can’t record or verify empirical data on on experiences no one else can access. But what if patterns could be gathered from mental states through use of carefully controlled entheogens, and reproduced reliably under lab conditions? Then a government-funded project like The Black Star Institute might actually exist, and who knows where that could lead…
The plot of The Little Demons Inside moves along at a pace that keeps those pages turning until long past bedtime, and culminates wonderfully with a psychedelic mashup of love and terror.
Evidence of Changes Volume 1 contains 4 short stories set in the same world as the novel, each with a tie in to the main plot. Volume 2 has a further 4 short stories, plus a poem and a novella. The three books can be read in any order without spoiling one another. However you choose to read them, there is no doubt that the short stories add depth and further explanation to the events of the novel and I’m so glad I decided to read them all.
My favourite from the Evidence of Changes books was Promises to Keep (the novella), but there wasn’t a single one that wasn’t memorable. An inside view of a drug trip, an alarming exploration into the nature of time, a daughter, helpless to her father’s mutated legacy, and a monitoring of minute changes to the external world that may just signify something huge.
If you hadn’t guessed by now, I recommend the Eudaimonia series. It’s about the making of myths, the growth of half-truths, and a reality that is far stranger than we are capable of knowing right now. And I can’t help but want to be part of it.
You can buy all of the Eudaimonia books, and pre-order The Ghosts We Hide, here.