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My Progress:

12 / 30 books. 40% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
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My Progress:

29 / 51 states. 57% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

26 / 50 books. 52% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

23 / 50 books. 46% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

48 / 50 books. 96% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

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41 / 52 books. 79% done!

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My Progress:

27 / 40 books. 68% done!

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15 / 40 books. 38% done!

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My Progress:

10 / 25 books. 40% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

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My Progress

13 / 26.2 miles. 50% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

26 / 100 books. 26% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

68 / 104 books. 65% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

44 / 52 books. 85% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

74 / 165 books. 45% done!
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)


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!
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