Thursday, October 24, 2019

Halloween Horror Novel a Shivery, Spine-Tingling Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After a traumatic childhood under the chaotic care of his flighty, hippie-dippy mother, Will Conner flees his hometown with no intention of ever returning.  When she falls down a flight of stairs, however, he's forced to take a leave of absence from his job as an English professor in New York City to care for her.  As soon as Will arrives in Cape Ann—a small village north of Boston—the inherent strangeness of the place overwhelms him, flooding him with memories of the night one of his mother's spirit circle rituals went horribly wrong, leaving one man dead.  At five years old, Will didn't understand what was happening.  He still doesn't.  All he knows is something sinister was released that night almost thirty years ago, a malevolent presence that still has Will in its clutches.  If anyone can help him get rid of it, it's the witchy women of Cape Ann.

Despite constant warnings from the townspeople to go back to the city, Will can't leave his childhood home without getting some answers.  He's desperate to know what really happened the night the ritual went wrong, frantic to free himself from the presence that haunts him.  Answers lie with the original members of his mother's spirit circle, many of whom have died mysterious deaths over the ensuing decades, but no one's willing to talk.  With the help of Samantha "Sam" Hall, his odd childhood pal, Will is determined to get the answers he seeks.  He's been warned that digging into old secrets could cause even more danger and pain, but he will not stop, no matter what new horrors he unleashes in the tiny, cursed town of Cape Ann, Massachusetts ... 

There's nothing super original about Before the Devil Fell by Neil Olson, but it's a solid horror novel that would make for a shivery, spine-tingling Halloween read.  The atmospheric setting gives the book an appropriately spooky backdrop.  The tale also features interesting characters, a compelling plotline, and capable prose.  While I can't think of any real stand-out elements that make Before the Devil Fell unique or really memorable, it definitely kept me turning pages.  In the end, I liked it well enough, but I didn't love it.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a handful of F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Before the Devil Fell from the generous folks at Hanover Square Press (a division of Harlequin) in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

6 comments:

  1. Wow, this sounds good!

    I love ghost and horror stories, but I shy away from gore. Would you say this is gory?

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    Replies
    1. No, I wouldn't call it gory. It's got some violence and actually a lot of death, but most of it takes place off-page.

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  2. I kind of like the sound of this one. :D

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  3. This seems perfect for just before Halloween. I am not so good on creepy books though.

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  4. Sounds like this one follows the classic formula for this kind of novel, but that doesn't bother me at all because a good writer can turn that formula on its head just enough to make it just as frightening as if it were the first book of its type I ever read. I'll take a look at this one.

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  5. Sounds like a good Halloween season read, even if it's not my thing. I don't mind if something is not entirely original, as long as I was entertained.

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