The Devil Crept In
By Ania Ahlborn
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date 2/7/17
An unforgettable horror novel from bestselling sensation Ania Ahlborn—hailed as a writer of “some of the most promising horror I’ve encountered in years” (New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire)—in which a small-town boy investigates the mysterious disappearance of his cousin and uncovers a terrifying secret kept hidden for years.
Young Jude Brighton has been missing for three days, and while the search for him is in full swing in the small town of Deer Valley, Oregon, the locals are starting to lose hope. They’re well aware that the first forty-eight hours are critical and after that, the odds usually point to a worst-case scenario. And despite Stevie Clark’s youth, he knows that, too; he’s seen the cop shows. He knows what each ticking moment may mean for Jude, his cousin and best friend.
That, and there was that boy, Max Larsen…the one from years ago, found dead after also disappearing under mysterious circumstances. And then there were the animals: pets gone missing out of yards. For years, the residents of Deer Valley have murmured about these unsolved crimes…and that a killer may still be lurking around their quiet town. Now, fear is reborn—and for Stevie, who is determined to find out what really happened to Jude, the awful truth may be too horrifying to imagine.
I am pretty sure that I am about to make a statement I have already made before, but if you are a fan of horror and not familiar with Ania Ahlborn, you are doing it completely wrong. Bass ackwards my friends. I discovered her work with Seed and was instantly hooked. The Neighbors is actually available on Kindle Unlimited if you are interested in testing the waters. I do recommend going for a swim.
*I received a copy of The Devil Crept In back in October from the author and publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.* I have patiently and not so patiently been sitting on this title so that I could post this review closer to the release date. Well this is as close as it gets, because I could no longer stand the wait. I have exerted my full amount of self-control and caved. I picked this up and devoured it like chocolate. And not that cheap shit you find on the end caps in the grocery. I am talking the sort of chocolate you can’t afford but buy anyways 😉 I do not even know where to start with this lovely addition to my shelves.
The Devil Crept In follows a young boy named Stevie Clark as he attempts to deal with the sudden disappearance of his cousin and only friend Jude. As the search ensues, Stevie is quickly convinced that there is much more happening with his cousin’s disappearance than anyone else seems willing to acknowledge. So he does what any loyal friend does and sets out to uncover the truth alone.
But what is the truth and why does he suddenly feel this may be connected to the case of Max Larsen who went missing so many years ago? And why doesn’t anyone in Deer Valley own a pet? Why are they also constantly missing and running away? There is not even a vet in Deer Valley! Sometimes the answer is more than we can ever think possible. It is more than we can handle. Does Stevie really want to uncover the truth?
The characters completely build this story. Don’t get me wrong, the plot is ridiculously creepy. But the ensemble that has been created to carry out this little tale of terror really help execute the events that occur in a manner only “they” could. Very much like a perfectly casted movie, this is a well-fitting group of individuals who manage to provide a certain air to The Devil Crept In with their eccentricity and uniqueness. They all come together beautifully. They construct the perfect atmosphere and set the stage. This is their world.
Our Protagonist Stevie happens to be carrying some heavy issues. You will soon learn that everyone in this novel is. While I do not recall his exact mental health conditions ever been specifically labeled, they are adamantly present. He stutters and has a continually need to finish sentences in rhymes. He also has suffered self-injury due to uncontrollable urges and struggles with occasional hallucinations. He exhibits several indicators of a psychotic disorder. His father left them and he now lives with his jerk of an older brother, passive mother, and her abusive boyfriend. It is easy to understand why Jude is his only friend. I adored Stevie. His character is so well written and conceived that you find yourself committed to his journey. I was emotionally engaged and attached to him from the very start. Sure, he is struggling, but this is a good kid making a solid effort with his hand in life. It is impossible not to root for him.
Jude is a bit of an enigma. The whole story surrounds his disappearance so he is placed under a veil. We build an initial impression through Stevie, but there is so much hinging on what has or is happening with him that I did not form the same connection. This felt intentional though. We know enough to derive that he has struggled with some anger issues after the loss of his father, and due to this, he has established a reputation around town as a troublemaker. In fact, many are convinced he has run off or is somehow responsible for his own disappearance.
This is where I stop. Certainly, you will discover that Stevie and Jude are not the only two characters of great significance. Believe me, I am purposely avoiding the discussion of some very key individuals at this point. In fact I am avoiding 90% of what I would normally be inclined to discuss in terms of a book. However, revelations and discoveries are what up the thrill factor and make this such an engrossing read.
It is gorgeously narrated from alternating POVs in a flawless manner. Broken into three parts, as you near the end of each section, a little more of the mystery unravels, pulling you further in. The storytelling is frighteningly beautiful. There are layered elements of grotesque horror, mystery, and even heartache packed into just under 400 pages that manage to somehow feel like so much more. The author’s writing is superb, never missing an opportunity to add an additional level of depth along the way. The Devil Crept In is a complex tale of several lives that will ultimately affect one another. It is rich and vivid, moving forward effortlessly. I felt as if it almost read itself. I was continually driven to know! Am I right? What the hell is happening? Add that the story takes place here in the North West and the deal has been sealed. This one is still sitting with me hard.
This is my first 5 star read of 2017. I do not even have to hesitate with that rating. I was left wanting nothing but more. I am highly recommending this to all fans of horror and thrillers.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐